For eight years now, Video Games New York has stood at its current location on East 6th Street as a testament to the love and dedication of individuals who truly care about gaming. And as many other outlets get swallowed up by big chains like Game Stop and used game sections continue to vanish, Video Games New York continues to be a place where people can not only purchase a long lost favorite but also find a sense of community with other game enthusiasts.
We recently spoke to manager Dan Maston, who’s been managing Video Games New York “longer than we’ve been working here.” He helped restructure their business at East 6th Street in 2006 after moving from their last location on St. Marks Place, and the store has since outlived many other big outlets to become one of NYC’s biggest hub for all things classic gaming.
Though the store is small, every inch of space is utilized to strategically display rows upon rows of game paraphernalia. There are entire walls devoted to Sega Genesis, NES, and Atari cartridges, as well as a smattering of new and used replacement parts game consoles and arcade cabinets. Perhaps the most intriguing thing on display though are their vintage game consoles, which runs the gamut from Sega Saturn to Nintendo’s Virtual Boy (if you’re reading this now, your keen eyesight is evident of the fact that you’ve probably never strapped on this short-lived console’s primitive 3D goggles.)
Maston says that, unlike other businesses, Video Games New York is just as much about looking around as it is about the purchasing. “The past 5 years here have been dedicated to building a sub culture of video games,” he said, and even though they “are still a business,” it is a place where “you could bring your date here, you could bring your friend here, you could bring your kid and just walk in and show’em stuff.” Amongst the many video production rentals they’ve done for “next to nothing,” this easy going mentality is also reflected by the many video shoots they’ve allowed in their store for free “just because it’s fun.”
Video Games New York hasn’t always been one of the only game oases in NYC though. When he originally moved to the city from Ohio, Maston says “I would just walk downtown from store to store to store, and they used to have so much stuff. It was amazing. Then they all became game/cell phone stores, and then they all became accessory/”We Buy Gold”, and then they just all closed down.” Now, in addition to Video Games New York, a few other stores he mentioned that still deliver classic games include J&L Trading, Game Express in Fordham, and 8-Bit and Up, also in the East Village. In line with the pathos that have helped make Video Games New York a world wide favorite, Maston maintains friendly relations with most of these stores, stating that “There’s not many left so we all kind of know each other.”
And though Maston states that it would be “difficult” for new mom and pop game stores to open in today’s game market, he feels that the “tangible items” sold by stores like Video Games New York will remain in demand due to their longer life span compared to that of new, largely downloadable content. As he puts it, their continued success is due in part to the fact that “The bottom line is that if you have a physical copy, you’ll always be able to play it.”