The Power Up visits iconic game store VideoGamesNewYork

Our host Narz is bringing you a breakdown of everything happening in the world of gaming, introducing you to rising stars in the industry and special guests every episode in this collab with Complex Networks.

In this episode of The Power Up, Jennifer “Narz” Vargas made a pilgrimage to VideoGamesNewYork (VGNY).

VGNY is a brick-and-mortar video game store in the East Village and a New York City institution. The indie store is famed for its impressive inventory which includes rare and imported titles which are hard to find anywhere else.

Narz remembers a time when getting the latest big game drop meant camping out in front of a store. But today, virtually every video game from blockbuster to indie titles can be downloaded from online stores.

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And mobile games have yet another flexible function: they can be played everywhere. Games like Among Us, PUBG Mobile and Pokémon Go compromise a sub-industry within games which has generated over $63 billion in profits.

With the breakneck popularity of mobile gaming, faster internet connections and expanding hard drive space, it seems that physical game copies will become relics of the past.

So how does a store like VideoGamesNewYork adapt and survive in these times?

“The physicality of it,” Daniel Mastin, Manager of VGNY, explained to The Power Up. “You know, the medium itself is something people seek after. You know, where digital stuff comes and goes, but to actually own it, to own a physical copy that no one can take from you is very important.”

Mastin was referencing the tenuous concept of ownership that modern gamers have with the products they buy. Consumers don’t really own the games they buy from digital stores. It’s more accurate to say that they simply have a license to play them, one that platforms can revoke for a broad number of reasons.

But if you own an N64 and a cartridge of Super Mario 64, it’s yours. Nintendo can’t take the cartridge away from you and you won’t lose your ability to play it if it gets pulled off a digital market.

Preserving this legacy is why VGNY isn’t just a store. It’s also a manufacturer.

“A store like this, we’ve branched into actual production,” Mastin said. “So now we’re actually helping to produce games onto physical media for future generations.”

VGNY is also a video game museum of sorts. The store is filled with valuable rare gaming finds such as items signed by legendary designers such as Hideo Kojima (Metal Gear Solid, Death Stranding) and Shigeru Miyamoto (basically everything you love from Nintendo). Many of these pieces don’t have price tags and are put on display for cultural purposes.

Then Narz hit the streets to talk to New Yorkers about their favorite mobile games. They referenced a broad list of games ranging from PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and BitLife.

As for what they wanted to see ported over to mobile, their desires were similarly diverse. Some of the titles mentioned were FIFA, Spider-Man and Super Smash Bros.

After playing some Nintendo Switch games with pedestrians, Narz wrapped up The Power Up with some heartfelt words to say about living in New York City during the pandemic.

“This city will never die,” Narz said. “No hurricane or pandemic will ever stop  us from pulsating. With ambition, perseverance, and a healthy dose of mobile gaming, nothing can stop us.”

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If you liked this piece, check out when The Power Up spoke with Latinx in Gaming about what diversity in gaming means both in representation and behind the scenes.

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