Ah, video games – we hate to love them and love to give them as gifts. Unless we don’t know enough about them, that is. Let’s be honest – the games a first-grader might like are much different from those you’d give a high-school student or a hardcore gamer. With the holidays looming, parents, friends, aunts, uncles and grandparents want to know what they don’t know: what to buy – and where! Here are a few suggestions of L.A. video game stores whose profiles are as different as gamers themselves.
10937 Venice Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034
Hours: Mon.-Sun. 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
This is where the hardcore gamers hang out. Why? Because they geek out on all the hard-to-find stuff – games, consoles, accessories and more – they can find here. Another reason? GamePlay breaks the street dates for games, which means you can get your copy of a much-anticipated game early. This store offers a wide variety of games new and used.
12104 Sherman Way
North Hollywood, CA 91605
Hours: 11am to 7pm daily
Want a blast from the past? This is the place to go – we’ll call it Gamers’ Delight. It’s the kind of place that has every game – and game console – imaginable. So if you’re feeling a little nostalgic you can take your walk down memory lane here. And then bring it home with you. And if you want the latest and greatest? You can get it here, too. All delivered with true gamer authenticity.
11301 W Olympic Blvd Ste 104
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Hours: Mon.-Wed., Sun. 10 a.m. – 9 p.m., Thurs.-Sat .10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
This store is a Mecca for those looking for rare and/or imported games. Originally a place for gamers to buy and trade used games, Hyper Game now focuses on carrying the widest variety of imported and domestic games – both new and used. The prices are right (though some say they’re steep for the imports), and the variety is there – even for a smaller store.
Japan Video Games
1509 W Valley Blvd.
Alhambra, CA 91803
Hours: Mon-Fri 10 am – 7 pm; Sat 11 am – 6 pm
The name says it all, right? So say the fans of this independent video game store that specializes in imports. With more than 3,000 import products, this store says it carries products from brands including Sanei, CafeReo, Takaratomy, Pokemon Center, Jupiter and Joytron. And the self-identified geeks like it: this store has moved three times since its founding in 1991 – and many of its fans have followed. Every time. Come here for a wide range of imported games, hardware, accessories and more.
350 S. Lake Ave #112
Pasadena, CA 91101
Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Sun. 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Self-proclaimed geeks swear by this independent Pasadena retailer of new and used games, DVDs and CDs. While their primary business is DVDs, game fans love this store because they can often find obscure PC, Mac and console games at really good prices. And if you’re looking for fair trade-in value for games, DVDs and CDs, this is the place to go. In business since 1994, Interact is owned by Dave Sparks – who answered the phone when I called, and is lauded for his commitment to offering great service to his customers.
Play ‘n Trade
This Orange County-based chain is one of my favorites for one simple reason: you can play the games before you buy them. This is especially important for parents who want to make sure they approve of the game’s content, story line, etc. before it’s exposed to their children. And it’s equally helpful for friends and family members who want to really know what they’re giving as a gift to their favorite “kid” – young or old. At Play n Trade you can purchase new and old video games, trade in your games for credit, play in a tournament, and get your games and CDs repaired. They also have a loyalty program – the Insider Club – which offers discounts, as well as additional credit on trades to its members.
There are more than 30 locations in L.A. – you can find them here.
Hours: Vary by location but they are typical retail hours
This global chain is the big box store of gaming – with a wide range of console, PC and handheld video games – new and old. Often the location for major game launches, Gamestop allows you to pre-order much-anticipated games so you can reserve your copy before it sells out. Gamestop also publishes a gaming magazine – Game Informer – and offers a loyalty program via its Edge card.
Jennifer Vides is no hardcore gamer but loves her (kid’s) Wii. She blogs at JenniferVides.com.