Video Game News & Discussion 2.0


Get off my lawn, ya Whipper Snapper!

I’d add Funcoland to that list as well.


Funcoland was a free arcade and free babysitting.

I guess you could buy games there.


Well, all of the above. In the town I grew up, Funcoland was pretty much the only dedicated video game store we had back in the 90s. As such, they had a better selection than the alternatives, of which… I’m not sure if we even had Toys ‘R’ Us or even Wal-Mart at the time, actually… There was Sears… and a couple of local chains… and a kiosk in the mall, and that was about it, I think.

Mail order? You’d have to order from some questionable company found in the back of a video game magazine. Admittedly, I found a good one in Vermont that had a lot of obscure stuff, but their magazine ads certainly had the “mom and pop amateur hour” feel to them.


Wow. In Michigan, even from day one Funcoland was the “low-rent” option for games. Parents would just dump their kids there for hours of free babysitting, and everyone actually bought games elsewhere.

Once I sold a game to Funcoland. They gave me like $20 for Final Fantasy 1. I literally bought it back from them for $5 months later. It still even had my save game on it. (I still have that cart).

Funcoland was seen as the bottom of the barrel. People actually bought all their games at Toys R Us or Sears (both of which had huge selections) or even Children’s Palace. The Toys R Us had basically every Nintendo game, even very old ones.

I remember even at the tail end of the SNES area, Toys R Us had basically every NES, SNES, Sega Mastersystem, and Sega Genesis game. Balloon Fight was there at the same time as Chrono Trigger.

When Children’s Palace finally went bankrupt, they had a 90% off everything madhouse sale. It was fucking nuts in there.

We went, and the videogame aisle was empty.

It turned out they moved all of them to another more secure area by the front of the store. No one realized this, and we found it untouched. We bought literally every SNES game they had for basically nothing.


So in New York City you never go anywhere at all except the grocery store or a Duane Reade (or equivalent)? No dining out or hitting a pop-up for some cool local wares, or events or doing anything along the streets at all where one might at some point stroll past the entrance to a GameStop?

Not that I’d ever cross that threshold nor expect you to either; GameStop is very trash. but I would just guess there’s a lot more opportunity someone could say “I was in the area so I stopped in for a cheeky peak” than just those times they going out for shopping.

In any case I likes Funcoland. It was where we would go for used Nintendo cuz buying the carts new was out of the question. I had to do chores for my games money and I wasn’t gonna waste it at the big stores.

Then my mom got a job assistant managing a BlockBuster and we were able to freely rent whatever we wanted and then occasionally buy them used at steep discount.

But Funcoland was the other place. Once it became a Software Etc, the downfall began. Then again not much actually changed. But it was a simpler time and a more friendly vibe.


I walk past Gamestops all the time. There are a ton in NYC. There is even one not very far from my home. I literally never go into it. I just walk past the same as if I were walking past any other store that is useless to me.

All my recent memories of going to Gamestop involve being at a mall near a convention. I think at PAX West long ago a DS game came out right around PAX time, and I tried to get it at the Gamestop. I forget if that was a success. Also at Anime Boston we were bored with nothing to do so we went to the Gamestop and the B&N in the mall without buying anything. Same thing happened at an Otakon long ago. I think I also shopped at the Gamestop in Beacon maybe two times before buying games on Amazon/Steam was the thing it is today.


I eat out all the time. But why would I go to a store while I’m out? Retail isn’t open at night, and what do I need to buy? I walk to the restaurant, eat, and walk back. Maybe I take the subway to/from the place. But the goal is to eat out, maybe hit a bar or a movie: not to go shopping.

I’ve walked past gamestops on my way to places. But it’s usually night, so they’re closed, or I’m on my way somewhere and don’t have time to stop anywhere else.

I only buy things I decided in advance I needed. I know what games are coming out, and I just order them online immediately when I decide I want them.

All I’m really saying is that stores don’t offer me anything, and aren’t a value-add to other necessary travel like they were. When I lived in the burbs, I’d have to drive to a strip mall or commerce area to shop for anything or even to eat out. Since I was out anyway, and it was an investment to be so, it made sense to hit other shops along the way.

Going to the strip mall to buy x? Might as well hit the gamestop, Dragon’s Den, and the hardware store since they’re nearby. Or, several of us would drive somewhere and be stuck waiting while one person bought something the rest didn’t care about. Nothing to do but wander into another store: it’s not like New York where there’s a cafe or bar to hang out in. Not like New York where I can just go home on my own instead of waiting.

Now, I live in the middle of everything. There’s no reason for me to go anywhere but my destination. :wink:


To put a real fine point on it, when I leave my apartment to go to a commercial enterprise of any kind, it’s almost always one of:

  • Eating out
  • Going to a bar/lounge
  • Attending an experience (movie, play, concert, sporting event, etc…)

The rare exception is specialty goods that require in-store expertise and/or physical inspection of the item in question. Almost all of these boil down to:

  • Ski maintenance
  • Bike maintenance
  • Ski equipment
  • Specialty sports clothing

I don’t visit any other commercial zones on purpose.



In my home town of Dartmouth, MA, at the time, Funcoland was a bit of both – a “babysitting” spot for kids and the one place that had a large and varied game selection. But Dartmouth was pretty lacking in a lot of the other major chains too at the time. The only major, national retailers we had were Sears and JC Penney, both in the same mall. Fast food restaurants were limited to McDonald’s, Burger King, and Subway. We didn’t have any of the big national pizza chains either (not that I’d choose them over some of the local mom-and-pop places). Of course, now that same area in town (US Route 6) has become pretty much strip mall central with just about every big box store you can think of.

For a while, my first choices for buying games consisted of either a local chain called The Toy Works (which eventually was bought by KB Toys and then went under) and Child World, which was part of the same chain as Children’s Palace, and also went under. Both actually had pretty solid selections of games, except for some of the more obscure ones.

Once Toys R Us finally opened up, it got almost all of my gaming business, but there was a multi-year gap between when the above toy stores went under and the Toys R Us opened. The local Sears didn’t have much of a selection as most of its games were in a pretty tiny kiosk near the children’s clothing department for some reason. There was a local department store chain called Ann and Hope that had an okay selection in its electronics department (which was rather good for a store of its nature, if I remember correctly) and was my usual first choice. However, they pretty much only carried that season’s top titles from the top publishers, so sometimes I’d fall back on to Funcoland if they didn’t have something I was looking for.

Sadly the local Child World’s game department was already pretty much lacking of any of the good games I cared about at the time Child World/Children’s Palace went under, so I couldn’t luck out in the way you did.

Funny thing is, looking up its history, Game Stop is Funcoland. Through a bunch of mergers and spin-offs and whatnot, Funcoland eventually morphed into the modern Game Stop.


Ouch. We had those plus Taco Bell, Arby’s, and White Castle. Until we moved to Sterling Heights where Burger King and Taco Bell were both disallowed for reasons.


Taco Bell only opened up in my town in 1993 or so, the beginning of my senior year of high school, if I remember correctly.

When I was really young, we had a couple of [presumably] local fast food chains that consisted of maybe a single-digit number of locations in the area, but they also eventually closed down.


I think the real difference is that Southeast Michigan is actually very densely populated, and is in the direct orbit of Detroit. Even in its degraded form, Detroit is a huge American city.


I also grew up in MA and can confirm that, slightly west of that, the situation was pretty much the same, though we did have EB and Babbages in the Emerald Square Mall, with the Funcoland just outside in a plaza. All were pretty much viewed the same, in terms of getting games. My favorite moment was picking up a stack of late-era nintendo powers for a penny each for some reason or another.

And yeah, I think the biggest fast-ish food near me was Frendly’s, Dunkies, and Papa Ginos. The rest was way out of town or local mom-and-pop stuff.


That would make a difference. I lived in a part of Massachusetts sandwiched between Rhode Island and Cape Cod. Providence, RI was the closest decent-sized city at about 30-45 minutes away, followed by Boston at about hour away, but we were still far enough from both of them that we didn’t get any of the benefits of being in their orbits.

I’ve heard the area I grew up in referred as “The Armpit of New England” based on its location and the fact that Cape Code looks a bit like an arm. I’ve also heard it referred to as “New England’s Toilet” as it’s the area people from New York and Connecticut would stop to go to the bathroom while driving out to Cape Cod.

Funny thing is, it was a coastal town with some nice beaches and wasn’t a bad place to grow up if you didn’t mind the lack of big national chains. We even had a legitimate, if small, state university there (I often used its library when researching stuff for high school term papers).

@Neito Oh, I forgot about Friendly’s and Dunkies. I didn’t count Papa Ginos as it’s a pretty local chain to New England, but we had those too. Then again, Friendly’s and Dunkies are also HQ’d in Massachusetts. Sounds like you grew up pretty much on the other side of Rhode Island from where I grew up. EB and Babbages did eventually show up at the Dartmouth Mall, but I think it wasn’t until I was in college in the mid to late 90s. Yes, I’m old.


More or less. I grew up in Foxboro, across town from the stadium. The basic difference of our childhoods would roughly be that I grew up knowing 95 as the major road into Boston and you knew 24.


Not sure if this is big news or not, but given our recent discussion of Destiny 2, I thought I’d post this:

"Seattle-area game developer Bungie will soon become the sole publisher and handler of the Destiny online-shooter series that it developed in partnership with publisher Activision. Bungie announced the news on Thursday via a blog post titled “Our destiny,” in which the studio declared that plans were already in motion “for Activision to transfer publishing rights for Destiny.” The post begins with a specific framing: that during the game’s plotting phase in 2010, in order “to launch a game of that magnitude, we needed the support of an established publishing partner.”


There are definitely lots of big things happening at Activision/Blizzard. Lots of execs on the way out. Lots of other people abandoning ship. Lots of changes in the products. They went through all that trouble to add Destiny to not long ago, and they are already doing a 180. Doesn’t look good.


If you have told me even two or three years ago that Blizzard would be shutting down Heroes of the Storm, potentially getting rid of monthly tournaments for Hearthstone, etc., I wouldn’t have believed you. Blizzard always seemed like such a juggernaut, even though they’ve never released that many games.

In general, and for years now, it seems like a lot of the creative leaders at these game companies are jumping ship.


There have always been a small number of people coming and going, which is natural anywhere. But right now you’ve got Morhaime on the way out, so that’s a totally different situation.

Also, the eSports changes I think are some of the only changes they are making that are good. Not enough people play or cares about HotS, so I don’t know why they still have it. Hearthstone eSport formats have changed significantly almost every single year, in both positive and negative ways. They are trying to bring it closer to Overwatch’s league style, which is good. Even if it ends up being far from perfect, it’s good that they aren’t afraid to make big changes and experiment to find something that works really well.


I agree. I just wonder if eSports will ever be as big as people think it will be, but that could just be my bias.

Stepping away from Blizzard though, I wonder what this means for Bungie. I didn’t see it listed in the Ars article, but I read somewhere else that a Chinese company (NetEast?) gave Bungie $100 million, so they’re probably not worried about cash, but I think the days of Bungie as a premier boutique developer are probably over.