I Spy an Independent Games Store!

Unlike the large chain stores like Rumbelows or Woolworths, the independent game retailer is a great place to go for expert advice on games and related equipment.

Andy Pryer aka @clammylizard takes a nostalgic adventure into the gaming & computer stores of the 1980s....

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It's also a meeting place and a lively hub for like-minded gamers. There are many sights and sounds which make a visit to your local 'Indi' a unique experience, but before you can observe the likely scenarios unfolding within, you must first make your way there with your full compliment of cash. You'll need a minimum of £1.99 to secure a purchase.

To maximise your spending once at your destination, it's best to try not to be distracted by the other shops en route, who will be eager to get their hands on your pocket money.

Newsagents pose the biggest threat to your neon velcro-fastened wallet as they deliberately stock wears intended to leach your gaming funds. All will stock temptations such as Whizzer & Chips and Commando comics as well as confectionary like Fruit Salads, Black Jacks, Refreshers and little boxes of white candy cigarettes with superheroes on the front. Some larger newsagents may increase their gambit to lighten your pockets by exposing Star Wars or Action Force figures for sale. These are very difficult to resist if you make eye contact, so best to avoid these emporiums all together if you want to make the computer game shop worth the trip.

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The most dastardly weapon the the newsagent's arsenal though is the wire carousel full of budget range computer games on tape. Once spotted, these are impossible to resist flicking through, but you must summon the willpower to avoid an actual purchase - at least at this stage of the excursion. No matter what you find on this display, be it Paperboy or Gauntlet, you must master your excitement and RESIST.

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You must be strong and remember your objective which is to arrive at the indi store with cash to drop. You may console yourself that you can collect it on your return if you have sufficient funds remaining.

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Leaving the temptation of the many newsagents safely behind you, you may now press on to the Independent Game Shop. Before you enter the premises there are some protocols which you'd be wise to observe:

1. Ensure that your jacket is open just enough show the logo of your chosen computer format emblazoned on your t-shirt. Your allegiances are very important to everyone inside so it's important to display your clan colours.

2. Get your arguments straight before you enter. Whatever your chosen system, someone will try and convince you that it's the 'wrong' one and 'theirs' is superior. Be ready to counter their challenges.

3. Ensure you free your cash from any greetings cards before you enter the store. You'll never pass as cool while fumbling with a birthday card featuring a vintage car and the legend 'Love Grandma'.

So now your patience and determination will be rewarded. You may now elbow your way into the shop and play the greatest game ever played: hunting through the cornucopia of wonder and selecting your prize. Now that you're inside, look out for the following:

1. The young 'expert' who acts like he works in the shop, and cannot be dissuaded from circulating around the punters and imparting his advice on which games to play (despite not actually owning a computer himself).

2. Someone trying to return a game because the commodore plus/4 graphics didn't match the arcade screenshots on the case.

3. A 13 year old carefully surveying the shelves to select his game as if the fate of all humanity hinges on his choice.

4. A kid who doesn't own a game system and treats the shop like a free arcade. Sometimes found combined with item 1.

5. A mother returning a game she purchased in the wrong format

6. Children trying to scrounge free posters

7. A gaggle of teenagers systematically approaching each customer trying to exchange their store gift vouchers for cash

8. A bedroom coder trying to flog the shop his home produced spectrum game with frightful cover art.

9. A bewildered old lady escorting her grandchildren and making occasional, unhelpful suggestions in a vain attempt to assist in selecting a game and leave the shop as quickly as possible

10. A dad, eyeing up Sam Fox Strip Poker and trying to decide if he can get away with playing it on his child's computer.

Article by Andy Pryer aka @clammylizard 

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