Remember when video game stores were more than “just a store”?

Remember when video game stores were more than “just a store”?

Remember when video game stores were more than just retailers dealing exclusively in video games and merchandise? When I was a kid, I loved visiting Video Games Heaven or the Virgin Megastores as they had test areas, events, and a great community atmosphere. Sure, they were still retail stores, but the focus felt more on the culture/community rather than mass sales.

This year I was lucky enough to relive this experience in Mildura, Victoria. During my busy schedule of water sliding, swimming, and just fun in general, I ventured to Mildura Central (the plaza) to spend a JB Hifi gift voucher. I was surprised to see a Gametraders store (as I’d thought them extinct), so I ventured inside for a look. The first thing to greet me was the inevitable merchandise. You know the stuff – plushies, statues, and various items designed to capitalise on a gamer’s love for a particular game, series, or genre. However, this was different. In addition to the usual current video game items they had old stuff, rare stuff, pop culture stuff, anime stuff… all sorts of stuff!

My interest piqued, I ventured further inside and found that they not only stocked video games, but were also well supplied with tabletop and card games. They had both new and second-hand sections, great for those who don’t want to paint their own minis or for people seeking a specific Magic The Gathering card. I then realised that the store had an additional room I’d not noticed from the outside. Upon entering, I saw rows of tables in a scene that would be very familiar to anyone who has ever attended a tabletop game event.

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Amazing! This little shop not only catered to all that we love here at Another Dungeon, but they actively encouraged the gaming community by providing a place to play. Alongside the rows of tables were a couple of tabletop setups (open field and ruined modern city settings) and a cosplay section complete with purchasable costumes, parts, and change rooms. As it was about 10am on a Tuesday, I wasn’t expecting the place to be packed; however, I did see two games of Magic, a Call of Cthulu session, and another game I didn’t recognise. After speaking with some of the players, I learnt that Gametraders not only provides a place for these games, but hosts regular events as well.

At this time, I was approached by a staff member who asked if they could help with anything or if there was something I’d like to play. I was interested in figure painting after trying my hand at PAX AUS, so asked about that. Surprisingly, they had a decent assortment of Citadel paints, plastic cutters, brushes, workstations, and so on. They didn’t have the starter kit I was after, but offered to get it in for me or make up something similar with the parts they had.

Before leaving, I took in the rest of the store. Alongside the standard video game stuff, they had an extensive range of second-hand gear; and I’m not talking $90 copies of the latest Call of Duty. They had console and games ranging from the original Game Boy all the way up to current-gen stuff; and the prices weren’t too bad either. Certainly comparable to what items would go for on eBay! Adding to the appeal, they had numerous old consoles setup so that customers could test or just play the games on offer.

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As you may be able to tell, I was impressed. I can’t say I’ve ever wanted to write an article about a retail store before, so well done to Gametraders Mildura. The atmosphere you’ve created is welcoming and reminded me of the tabletop section at PAX Australia 2014. It pervaded both customers and staff alike, creating a really pleasant visit. Here was a place where gamer interests were realised and encouraged, and all were welcome. I’m not sure if the other remaining Gametraders stores are like this (I know the one at Fountain Gate, Victoria wasn’t), but if you’re ever in Mildura, make sure you pop in for a look. It’s well worth your time and support.

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There are two things I love in life… playing games and my family. I work three jobs; one to pay the bills, another as a video game designer at C117 Games, and, of course, here – at Another Dungeon.

I own almost every console since the Atari 7800 and am proud of my extensive collection of games. I’m more of a single or coop player but I do dabble in multiplayer on the odd occasion. Tabletop wise I prefer strategic games like Five Tribes or Small World. If you want to have a game or just chat feel free to add me, PM me or email me.

  • If they don’t ask you about scratch protection, I’m there!

    • Dave C Haldane

      Well they do sell card sheaths to protect your cards from damage… deal breaker?

      • They can be useful. We bought a card game called ‘Love Letter’ twice due to some very minor wear and tear that affected the gameplay. We now keep the cards in plastic sleeves. They’re very slippery now!

        • Dave C Haldane

          Where did you find it and was it reasonably priced? I refused to pay over $20 for it. If you can find a cheap copy for me I’ll give you a tokennnnnnnn!

          • Just wait til PAX this year. It’ll be $12 again there.

          • My wife placed a bulk order of games from Amazon US. Their board game prices are ridiculously cheap, but you need to buy enough to justify the shipping cost. The pouch version of love letter is currently US$6.84! gamesparadise.com.au have the Kanai Edition for AU$17.52 plus shipping. I’ll let you know next time we do a bulk order!

    • Or putting a preorder on something you have no interest in. Or, like Big Game Sales Store the other day did to me – two days before it came out – offered a pre order for Captain Toad.

      • Dave C Haldane

        I nearly pre-ordered Captain Toad the day before it came out. JB couldn’t tell me what their “pre-order special offer” was so I just waited. Saved myself $30 😀

  • Mr Mister Jan

    I used to work for a local place back in Canberra (Computer Games World FTW) and it was awesome. We had a great community made up of customers and staff. Most of us are all still in regular contact 20 odd years later.
    I appreciate that EB has a place but they just don’t have any charm or feeling of belonging when you’re there. Only a true game store can do that.

  • Dave C Haldane

    One of the pics I wanted to use in the article but didn’t have room for 🙂 Of all the games he asks to try it’s Angry Birds on PlayStation… seriously?!

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