After-action report: visit to Game Point in Conway, AR

The boy and I happened to have time to kill in Conway this afternoon (while mom was at a work-related function – things being what they are right now, she’s about the only one with work-related functions to attend), and not far from our hotel was a massive store with all sorts of video game logos in the windows: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii… whoa, wait, a vintage Atari logo? Since Little E is already my video gaming buddy (it just so happens that most of the games reviewed in Phosphor Dot Fossils these days are picked by him almost at random, which explains why recent reviews there have been such an eclectic mix) and an avowed Mario fan, we made it a point to visit this place called Game Point.

Game Point
Sadly, this photo was taken as we were back at the car, so it doesn’t show the giant Atari logo

It turns out that inside, this store might just be the happiest place on Earth – well, for me circa 10 years ago.

I have a shocking confession to make: I no longer collect video games. My priorities made a sharp right turn when the twin factors of fatherhood and unemployment were the two big things going in my life. Now, I’m still a dad (and the dad of a huge Super Mario Little E @ Game Pointdevotee, no less), and I’m once again unemployed (not my idea this time), but I do still love me some games. I’ve just gotten past the obsessive/compulsive need to buy them all the time. Grey areas of intellectual property ownership aside, emulation does just fine for me. It takes up less space. It’s less stuff to have to maintain. It’s less stuff to have to break out cleaning swabs and alcohol in an attempt to fend off the inevitable advances of physical age. It would seem that I’m starting to go grey, so why should my game collection fare better than I do?

In short: I just want to play some games, and chronicle their history as a neato sideline (I like to look into the history of the games I play, to see if there’s a way to peek into the designer’s head). I’m long over the urge to gather cartridges and… what? Put them away and dust them occasionally because I’m playing the games via emulation anyway?

If I was still into that, however, Game Point is an awesome enabler of such an addiction. They have a friendly staff (even when it comes to dealing with an excited 4-year-old who just wants someone to climb up there and get that plush Super Mario mushroom for him), a gigantic selection (though I found the Atari logo in the window to be a bit of a red herring – I didn’t see anything older than Game Boy or SNES on the shop floor), and the place is just neat to look at. Little E was a bit taken aback by the giant statue of the Incredible Hulk, and the life-size statue of Master Chief. Once he laid eyes on the giant Mario statue, however, his beef min was duly calmed.

And! They have an actual working Pac-Man/Galaga upright in there. He was really excited about that. “This is just like what they had when I was a kid,” I said as I grossly oversimplified for his benefit. And for the first time in at least a decade, I put a quarter into a Pac-Man machine and played. Badly, because the newly-purchased magic mushroom kept on bouncing into the screen, propelled by its new owner.

Little E @ Game Point
Thankfully, this mushroom completely diverted his attention from the big stuffed Yoshi that was almost big enough to be ridden

If you’re in Conway, drop by Game Point and take a look around. I almost caved into the urge to grab some used PS1 titles that I was missing, but having spent $15 on Little E’s new power-up, I decided to hold off on any Daddy Shopping (especially since daddy can’t honestly say he has the cash on hand to justify it right now). Little E was excitedly clutching his mushroom all the way home, and is sleeping next to/on it as I type this. Happy boy + daddy’s blast from the past = mission accomplished.

Also! They’re holding a giveaway for a bunch of store credit through the end of October. Go sign up. If I win, then look out – giant Yoshi’s coming home for Christmas!

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