After complaining about the state of most video game shops on the high street, I thought I’d show some examples of places that manage to get video game shopping done right.
I think the most important thing about games shopping is the experience of it, a lot of shops have lost this now, but one particular shop still feels magical every single time.
So I thought I’d start with my favourite games shop ever: R-Games in Westgate Street, Gloucester.
The Nintendo Cabinet
One of the first things that greets you as you enter is the shop is a fantastic display of Nintendo games in a glass cabinet. After seeing so many tatty, rubbish games in hundreds of different shops it’s wonderful to see a tidy, and a very special collection of games on display. Now these aren’t for sale sadly, but it helps to set the mood. Often you’ll see people stood in front of this cabinet in awe, chatting about their gaming past or pointing out their favourite games.
I particularly like all the NES games on the bottom shelf, they’re quite tricky to track down in such nice condition apart from ebay. It really feels like you’re looking in on someone’s personal collection, and I approve of games being on display in this way. Let’s face it most games collections are hidden away, rather than appreciated by many.
Current Gen Titles
Most of my second hand game shopping is done here. R Games stocks all the current gen games for very reasonable prices (some of the best in Gloucester I think). Games brought from here are always in fantastic condition, as well as being clean and tidy. The chaps in the store are always happy for you to test any of the games out in the store, and the entire shop is very relaxed so you don’t feel hurried along like in larger stores.
There are games and DVDs in here that you usually won’t find anywhere else, the employees here are knowledgeable and helpful, and this seems to help them buy in genuinely decent stuff, rather than anything and everything Joe public brings in. It’s worth mentioning that the shop itself it quite small, but every spare space is filled with gaming trinkets, action figures, posters, cuddly toys, even all the inserts from games long gone, it’s all fabulous nostalgia.
The museum pieces
There is always some gaming merchandise in here that will surprise you, behind the counter especially, as this is where they tend to keep the really rare games on display (Panzer Dragoon Saga anyone?) Nearly every item behind the counter is a gamer’s dream. It’s nice to see such rare games in the flesh, on display rather than hidden away in a cupboard. R Games is a fantastic shop, but I think it’s also the nearest thing we have locally to a gaming museum.
Nearly every items in this shop brings back memories. All the adverts from the 1990s, all the boxes, and shop POS, perhaps they play on this constant sense of nostalgia by keeping most of the retro consoles in stock, as well as definitive collections of all their games available for sale. I like knowing that if I needed a particular retro console or game I could come here and find it, it’s extremely reassuring.
Retro consoles and games
Quite honestly the amount of retro games and consoles in this shop puts the vast majority of high street shops to shame. But part of the reason it works here is because no one else is really doing this anymore. This shop feels like the shops I was in as a child, before all the corporate franchises came in and demolished the high street. In this shop at least it’s different, you get knowledgeable, helpful gamers behind the counter and a smile when you come in.
The pride and personality behind the shop really shows, and while I have no doubt that they’re partly supported by an ebay shop as well, it’s wonderful to have retro and current games in a brick and mortar shop rather than one a computer, it’s the sort of thing that every shop should be doing.
Handhelds and DVDs
There is also quite a collection of specialist DVD titles, particularly anime and music DVDs for the so inclined. It’s nice to have lots of interests which are normally deemed too niche in another shops properly represented and appreciated here.
The handheld game collection is also fairly complete. I can’t think of many other places that support the Gameboy Advance and Colour so exhaustively. This is a great place to pick up cart based games, but it’s also nice to see games in their original boxes, as immaculate as the day they were brought. I certainly approve of the choice and variety the shop provides.
Attention to detail
You can really see how all the old game inserts are used in the shop here. Best of all, all the way around the top of the shop are old console boxes, and all their various different iterations also, so a Japanese Saturn box, next to an Atari Jaguar and Famicom.
I also believe you can judge a good games shop on how they store their controllers, in here they are all beautifully tied and displayed rather than stuck into little bags in bargain bins.
Simply put R Games is my favourite games shop and has been for an extremely long time, hopefully you can see why from the pictures I’ve taken. It goes against the tide stocking things that most places wouldn’t bother to, and in doing so creates a unique games shop that matches the personality of it’s customers. It has become the tidemark upon which I judge every other games shop I walk into.
Not just because of it’s contents, but the sublime service, friendly staff and wonderful prices. I’ll have a hard time trying to find other shops to write about after this one.