Running a video game store seems like a tough business. GameStop is barely surviving, and all of the used-game shops in my area closed down over the last few years. But Pink Gorilla Games in Seattle is getting by, and co-owner Kelsey Lewin stops by How Games Make Money this week to talk about that.
Lewin also explains what it was like to grow into a retro-gaming expert slowly over a matter of years. And that knowledge helped in her other role as the co-director of the Video Game History Foundation. Tune in to learn all about that and more.
Lewin has worked in used games for years, and over that time she’s tracked how it has changed.
“It’s been a pretty straightforward progression of people first being really into Super Nintendo and Genesis-era stuff and then people being into N64 and PS1,” said Lewin. “What happens is you have people who are kind of leaving home for the first time and getting their own money to spend on their childhood again. And that’s one of the biggest drivers of price fluctuations.”
Right now, those customers are looking for GameCube and Dreamcast games. People who were children in 2000 are 25 to 35 years old now.
“And people don’t really remember that the GameCube sold pretty poorly,” said Lewin. “So you have a lack of supply and high demand, and everyone knows what that does to prices.”
The Game Informer archaeology dig
As co-director of the Video Game History Foundation, Lewin is looking for ways to preserve the industry’s past. This involves gathering promotional and development materials and then finding a way to keep them safe for researchers.
All of that takes money, of course, and the VGHF is looking for ways to raise funds. That’ll go toward hiring librarians and other staff to catalog and present fascinating texts and documents.
But where do you even find those kinds of historically significant items in the first place? Well, how about a nearly 30-year-old video game magazine’s storage closet?
“I like to call it an archaeology trip because it basically is,” said Lewin. “We went to Game Informer Magazine, which has been around now since 1991, and they’ve only moved offices once, and it was very early on there in Minneapolis. And they had been just kind of throwing everything that they’ve ever received as a press outlet into a room, which is amazing. No one else did that.”
Lewin says that VGHF has asked nearly every other publication for similar material, but Game Informer was special. It is in Minnesota where space is easier to come by than cities like San Francisco.
“So we sent in the troops,” said Lewin. “We had a team of volunteers, and we were there for an entire month digitizing everything that they’ve ever been sent.”
Most of what they found was from the ’90s through the 2000s. This was before the time of the digital press kit that I now get as a Dropbox folder in my email. But it’s a relatively complete archive of the general communications that publishers had with the media through one of its most important eras.
Now the VGHF has to figure out how to actually sort through all of that content. And also how to make it publicly available. But those are challenges Lewin is ready and willing to take on.