News

Downtown F.C. Goes Old School With Video Game Store Opening

By Brian Indre

SUPER BIT OWNER Chris Jackson takes his lifelong interest in gaming and is turning it into a business. He hopes to bring back the communal aspect found in the arcades of yesteryear with its opening. (Photo: Brian Indre)

While everything in the City of Falls Church seems to have an eye toward the future, one new business looks to keep it retro in the heart of downtown.

Super Bit Video Games will open this Tuesday, March 17, at the old Direct Jewelers building on the corner of Route 29 and Route 7.

Next door to Compleat Strategist (a store that specializes in board, tabletop and strategy games, etc.), Super Bit owner Chris Jackson already feels at home with his neighbors who have already been asking about what games he will have for sale.

Jackson, 39, calls himself a lifelong gamer and, over the last five years or so, he got heavily into collecting and playing retro video games.

Having previously worked as a web developer for USAID in Arlington and Washington D.C., his hobby began to take on a different light.

“Once you start to get into a hobby, it’s sort of natural for your mind to progress into thinking, ‘What would be cooler than collecting games, but to have your own store some day?’ ” said Jackson.

Jackson grew up in Syracuse but moved to Charlottesville during his high school years. In 2002 he moved to Alexandria, where he still resides.

The seed had been planted in his mind for some time to open his own store, and it just so happens that his circumstances are right to give it a try, Jackson explains. He hopes that his passion can be shared with the Falls Church community, and overall serve as a valuable life experience.

In a time when newer technology seems to consume our every waking moment, retro video games from the 1980s and 90s (such as original Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and the numerous game consoles that came after), are feeding the nostalgia from a simpler time — and what may seem counterintuitive to some, the simpler games from yesteryear have shown a resurgence in interest even amongst modern gamers.

Retro video games have showed a steady increase in sales over the last few years, which led to the game industry releasing things such as new consoles that have 30 or so of the original retro games already built in, like the smaller-in-size but original look of the first Nintendo console, called the NES Classic Edition.

But with many games built into a device, or even having the ability to download and relive these old games on your PC as possibility, it’s just not the same.

Much like streaming your favorite music, something is lost in the newer technology. A big part that’s missing is the human interaction; having a common place where like minded people can congregate, share their passion and find out what others are interested in, the old fashioned way.

So to further feed that nostalgia, Jackson’s vision for his shop will be a place where customers can browse stacks of games, exclusive toys, and other memorabilia, buy candy and try out games that he will have in rotation on a few setup consoles.

Jackson says there will be games for all age groups at Super Bit.

He explains that part of the appeal is that a lot of these older games are inexpensive, so you buy an old system and a bunch of games for a relatively low price compared to much more expensive new game consoles and games.

“It’s a different experience when you can come in and buy a N64 and a couple games for a hundred bucks and go home happy and relive the nostalgia while the kids will experience something totally new,” Jackson said.

For those who were around in the early days of video games, as well as video stores and record shops, they probably have fond memories of being able to walk up and down isles with the ability to touch and see the cover art and ask questions to employees that live and breath it.

“In my mind, you used to go to Blockbuster or the likes and rent a game and grab some candy, it was a very exciting experience,” Jackson says.

Jackson will be the sole employee on day one, but if things are good, perhaps more help will be needed later on.

“Ideally, in time the shop would also like to host game tournaments and events such as a game exchange,” said Jackson.