If you’ve been following entertainment news lately, Blockbuster Video is closing.

Realistically, it’s simply a sign of the times. Every year, physical media (movies, games, music, books) dwindles smaller and smaller as it all makes way for an eventual digital format. 10 years from now, we may not even have “physical copy” anymore. Even five years from now, it may be possible. It’s hard to say.

And it makes sense. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video…. And for those who still want a physical something, there’s Redbox. Mom ‘N’ Pop video stores have been dying out for years, having been slowly edged out in the past by the tsunami known as Blockbuster, and now in no small irony, Blockbuster is now feeling that same pain.

This is the actual Blockbuster Video from my small hometown, taken in 2009. Between that and another big local video store called Movieland, they were the “Coke and Pepsi” choices in my town. And I actually worked at this store in the mid 1990’s.

Before then, I went to Movieland to rent my NES games (not to mention they had one of the best arcades in town). There was something so magical as a kid being able to spend a weekend with a handful of new games, or staying the night at a friend’s house for an all-night gaming session. Sure, they eventually got Genesis games in stock, meaning I was no longer regulated to good grades and chores to try a new game out. This was an era before gamers had a chance to download demos, so this was the only way we got to play without buying. Life was good, and eventually Blockbuster came in, big, bold, and aggressive. And it was just different enough for me to love that as well.

And so if it wasn’t Movieland, it was Blockbuster for NES and Genesis games. And eventually Super Nintendo. And as an employee (along with several other friends that worked there), we each got five free movie/game rentals a week. Coupled between four or five of us, that was a LOT of games (and anime, and kung fu, and a few sleazy late-night cable style movies because we were in our late teens and thought that made us awesome). These nights were usually over at my house.

I was one of the few (if not only) people in my town to be able to take advantage of Sega CD rentals. That saved a lot of time protecting me from the thought that FMV video games were “cool” (though I have a disgusting soft spot for the cheesy acting and obnoxious carriage drivers of Dracula Unleashed). I remembered the Blockbuster Video World Game Championships back in 1994. I was also one of the firsts to get a Playstation, and got to sample a lot of the new “next generation” games with my friends. I got my copy of Super Metroid from Blockbuster.

A lot of memories….

Sure, the concept of the video store is dying. And there are services where you can buy games instantly via your computer or console. And my friends and I don’t have nights where we crash at each others houses anymore because we’ve grown up and gotten jobs and families since then. And truth be told, I haven’t really stepped in a video store in years. I play online with friends on the same console that I stream Netflix episodes of Breaking Bad and Doctor Who on. And maybe one day this concept will be a relic as well.

I haven’t had a chance to go home again to my small town since I heard that it truly was “over” for Blockbuster. Movieland closed years ago, and I may not get the chance to say good-bye here either, what with the stores closing by the end of the year. For all I know, the store may already be closed. I think that’s why I took that picture on my last visit: I just sort of knew that the era of the video store would be ending soon, and wanted to remember, because damn it all if the Blockbuster closing announcement didn’t just hit me in a nostalgic spot. It was part of my childhood. It was a lot of happy memories made from hanging out with my friends. It was my second job when I first entered the workforce. As a kid in a small town, before internet, before jobs, and after school, it was a part of life. Part of my own gaming history.

As I said, the video store has become a relic of a bygone era, but now that it’s gone, I find that I’m going to miss it….

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Filed under: general gamingretro gaming