RIP Video Game Centre

Today was a pretty meaningless day in the grand scheme of things. For most gamers it simply represented the return to the grind after an extended weekend of GTA IV, but it was a sad day for the hardcore gaming community of Bournemouth, and for those regulars from all around the country: today was the last day of trading for the Video Game Centre.

Video Game Centre

Since it opened in 1993, it was one of the biggest sellers in the country of import games and game-related oddities. No one misses the days of £90 SNES imports, but back in the day this place had a huge pool of regulars who were willing to spend that sort of money on the latest and greatest but also who would spend all their Saturday afternoons in there, just talking games. As someone growing up as a gaming obsessive at the time, it was heaven.

Alas, the Internet happened, as did supermarkets and their loss-leading games, and the pool of regulars started to dry up. Internet forums have become the hangout of the hardcore gamer, and the number of people who are willing to spend only a couple of quid under the RRP for a place to break street date has dwindled.

Looking at that photo, taken circa 2002, just makes me come over all nostalgic. The new games on the TVs, the Shenmue poster on the door there, whole import sections for every console. Next to the TVs you can see the accessories, with everything from the expected official controllers and AV cables to the handy weird stuff from Japan and Hong Kong that’s been impossible to find since Lik-Sang disappeared. And above and to the left of the PAL N64 games on the back wall you can see AES and Neo-Geo CD games – where can you get those without braving the bootleg minefield of eBay?

I miss the independent retailers in general. Where is there for people to get knowledgeable advice from people who’ve actually played the game, to try it before they buy and to get help with importing and modding hardware? And when I do shop in a physical retailer, I like to do it without being given the hard sell on extended warranties, official guides, and shitty, own-brand controllers. This was one of the last ones, and it had been one of the best.

So it looks like I’m going completely online now, and I can be happy with my favoured sites for both imports and PAL games. It’s just a shame that I can no longer pop in for a chat about the latest Edge scores…

14 thoughts on “RIP Video Game Centre

  1. I was the Video games centre’s 1st customer way back when Martin Bean had set it up in the corner of his parents baby/mother shop, one asian sega megadrive and a copy of New zealand story was what i brought for the sum of £140, yeah that was a cool place, god knows how many thousands i pumped into that place

  2. i loved working there it was fun untill tesco fucked it up

  3. I opened November 1st 1990. I sold up on August 1st 2003. I miss it too :)

  4. Ha ha tesco’s mate???? just economics buddy that sent it on its way, anyhow when Martin sold it on it became a bit of a shit pit, over priced understocked and err never vacuumed/cleaned full of crap jamma pcb’s that you can get for nothing on emulators

  5. I use to love going here in the late 90’s , Seeing all those Import saturn games behind the counter, I just get all my imports from Play Asia now which is a shame as it was fun actually going to a shop.

    Anyway martin ill be coming to the baby centre soon to have a look at the Icandy apple ;)

    Also andy did you use to go to madisons in bournemouth ? I always thought you looked familiar.

  6. I use to love going here in the late 90’s , Seeing all those Import Saturn games behind the counter, I just get all my imports from Play Asia now which is a shame as it was fun actually going to a shop.

    Also id always get my consoles modded at the VGC , Always good value and top workmanship

    Anyway martin ill be coming to the baby centre soon to have a look at the Icandy apple ;)

    Also andy did you use to go to madisons in bournemouth ? I always thought you looked familiar.

  7. VGC was the first importer I used back in 1995-6, I had a Saturn then and UK games were slow in being released not to mention crappy UK ports so bought my first Jap saturn from there and continued buying there jap sat games as they had all the rare titles as well, also bought my US N64 there too, traded with them up until about 2002 when I started loosing interest in games as Sega pulled the plug, so many old school game shops are out of business now, I think Raven-Games are still going though god know how

  8. Also I used to love those long fax’s of prices lists and what’s new in…very helpful

  9. Great shop bought my Famicom from when it was just the corner of a baby store. And when Martin moved it was even better all the staff were great spent hours in there talking games trying games spent £90 on Jap Street Fighter but well worth it to be able to get it early and about £200 on Fatal Fury for the neo geo. And yes when the guy took over from Martin it went way down hill he didint have a clue or personallity or cleanliness but you got out in time Martin. Great days

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