It’s a long ol' drive from London to Doncaster but the promise of an entire hall stacked high with retro gaming goodies makes the 7-hour round trip worth it.
On arrival to Doncaster Dome last weekend, I marvelled at the notable queue patiently waiting to gain entry into the market. Observing that it wasn’t just 40-somethings like me attempting to buy back the games and consoles that defined my generation, but a queue made up of younger folk too, waiting excitedly to get their hands on pieces of gaming history.
If your aim is to procure retro games from yester-year then you’re garenteed to find them at a good price here. Stall after stall offer jam-packed creates of games, ranging from the Atari VCS starting from £3 to SNES and Mega Drive classics for not much more.
Both mint with manual or lovingly repackaged cart-only’s for a little less.
In contrast serious collectors have a welcomed place at the Video Game Market too.
I spotted some great rarities; a boxed Neo Geo with three games, the collectable Sony Bravia TV complete with built in PS2 and a stunning N64 Disk Drive which I was rather tempted by had I not already exceeded the spend limit I had set myself.
If merch is more your thing then you’re also catered for too; anime and manga toys make a minor appearance alongside video game related clothing and prints by talented artists.
There’s also vinyl toys and figurines displayed amongst the pile-em-high boxes of 80’s/90’s pop-culture toys, board games and trinkets.
Admittedly I did find the lack of private sellers this time around to be a bit of a loss to the market in comparison to my previous visit.
There were a lot more for-profit traders this time around - although I completely understand the attraction for them to sell here. Whilst always present, sadly I felt the now obvious majority of professional resellers tainted the community feel that had made the previous incarnation of the Video Game Market special.
There was something endearing about buying an item from a personal collection, with the seller safe in the knowledge that their once prized possession was going to a good home.
Since changing hands the Video Game Market is soon to become a three-times-a-year occurrence, rather than it’s previous annual gathering which I fear will further corporatise it.
I appreciate that retro gaming has become a lucrative market, but fear the new frequency of the event could effect its previous endearing assemble of the like-minded originally curated from a love of gaming, to being a soulless money-making enterprise.
I also fear the quality and availability of stock suffering from it’s new regularity, making it no longer worth any significant commute unless you’re already local.
I really hope I’m wrong!
Having said that, in it’s present state it’s still currently worth the trip if you’re thinking of attending.
- If you're looking for collectables, then arriving early is a must. You snooze, you lose!
- Bring cash. Understandably few stalls accept card payments. One positive to this is that it helps you stick to a budget!
- If you don't ask you don't get! Haggling politely knocked £10 off of a Dreamcast and Gamecube consoles I purchased from the same seller. I heard others haggle too. They can only say no, right!?
- If you see something you really want, it's best not to umm and ahh. Chances are it'll be gone by the time you return and there's nothing worse than spotting that coveted item in the arms of another!
- ...having said that, some stalls are extortionately overpriced. Namely the ones by the entrance taking advantage of the first footfall. Shop around if the items you're after aren't all that rare.
- If you have a prepared a shopping list, it's worth checking out what the items sell for on eBay to ensure you're getting a good deal. Most sellers are competitive, but its best to attend knowledgeable so you don't pay over the odds.
- And finally, take your time to soak up the atmosphere, make like-minded friends and nose around at least twice - you'll be surprised by how much you missed the first walk around!
It's not everyday you get to attend a market dedicate to the glue that binds us all together and for that I'm grateful.
I just hope it remembers it's jeans and gamer tee roots and doesn't get too carried away in it's seemingly new found corporate suit and tie.