I mentioned a while ago that we were considering working with a local game store to hold some tournaments. We had heard about a place in Redmond that did that sort of thing on a regular basis called Famcom. We went to check it out though and the place was a fucking pit. Let me paint you a picture.
The first thing you notice is the smell, like rotting food mixed with dust mixed with shit. Garbage is everywhere, sometimes piled up in cardboard boxes sometimes just piled up. Newspapers, magazines, bits of food and all sorts of other crap are strewn about the store forcing you to walk like a World War II soldier navigating a mine field. A quick scan of the merchandise reveals a wide range of gaming hardware and software, however none of it is being taken care of. Behind the counter I can see a pile of Turbo Graphix 16’s and some 3DO’s. A shelf full of 32x’s appears to have fallen over years ago sending the black bean shaped add on’s spilling across the floor. Layers of dust over every item imply that the contents of this store have remained in this sad state for months or perhaps years.
A Sega Master system in its original box lays partially open in one corner. Crushed under the weight of a pile of magazines from the 80’s its Styrofoam interior is cracking and warping. Something brown is leaking down the wall onto a Neo-Geo machine whose controllers are hanging from the shelf by their cables. There is what looks like the innards of arcade machines scattered around the store. Picture tubes and mother boards piled up in the corners. The walls are decorated with pictures of porn stars. Busty ladies with “fuck me” eyes are watching you from every direction. Every surface in the store is sticky and when you lift up your feet they resist as though you’re walking in chewed gum.
At the time I said that the venue was too small to host PA related functions because I didn’t want to be rude. I had no intention of ever going back there but the guy who runs the joint sent me a mail yesterday saying that he has cleaned the place up and had some new games. He wanted to know if we were still interested in working with them. I decided to see if he had really gotten his act together and I went over there yesterday with my friend Robert. If anything the place has gotten worse. He has added a slew of arcade machines to a store that was already too small for the amount of merchandise and garbage he was keeping there. These new machines are placed haphazardly around the store. In order to power this new hardware he has snaked dozens of extension cables across the floor making it a rat’s nest of wires and filth. A vacuum cleaner sits on its side near the Guilty Gear machine and surrounded by garbage. The image it creates is like some kind of modern art piece and for a second I wonder if the owner isn’t perhaps an artistic genius and I have unknowingly stepped into his latest installation.
I stumble towards the back room where I have been told Soul Calibur 2 resides. This back room is like something you would find in a porn shop. Everything is sticky and the presence of porn posters on every wall makes me question just what exactly it is that my hands are sticking to as I grab hold of the SC2 joystick. I make a mental note to never touch my face with my hand again as I start up a game with Robert. The front of the arcade machine falls off and strikes us in the shins while we are playing so we take the opportunity to inspect its insides. This is an old California Speed machine that has had its RGB monitor replaced with an old television. So old in fact that the Playstation 2 inside which is running the Japanese version of SC2 is hooked up to it via a Pelican RF switch because it has no RCA jacks. Robert and I attempt to leave via the back door which is open but blocked by an old car up on blocks and a pile of metal shelves. We are forced to make our way back through the store in order to exit through the front door. I see some young kids maybe nine or ten playing puzzle fighter and I wonder to myself if their parents have any idea what kind of place they are hanging out in. There is a box of oranges by the door on the way out and I am scared and disgusted by the possibilities for their presence.
It has always been my dream to run my own game store/ arcade and to see someone treating their store in such a way is enough to make me sick. Scott posted a rant a few days ago about how he was disgusted by his neighbors treatment of their dog and how he was considering turning them in. When I see the way these video games are being treated I feel the same way. They are not dusted or organized. They are not displayed in a way that would facilitate their purchase by customers. They are not loved.
I spent some time considering the possibility of getting some kind of small business loan and purchasing the store from him. I had dreams of fixing the place up and making it the first Penny Arcade game store. I asked him how much his store was worth to him including merchandise minus the porn and garbage, but he is apparently not interested in selling it. As Robert and I walked across the street to the Jack in the Box in order to wash our hands we discussed how horrible it would be to have to clean that place up after purchasing it though. I can not even imagine the sorts of creatures you would disturb upon clearing out that filth. I imagine at some point the garbage will become sentient, not unlike the Trash Heap from Fraggle Rock and people will travel from the ends of the earth in order to receive its sage advice. Until then though his store is a pit and I will never set foot in it again.