SWR: Virgin Games Centre

Shrink-Wrapped Recall – An occasional series about memories of old game shops.

(Tip of the hat to the Duke Mitchell Film Club for unearthing this advert)

The history of roleplaying games is inescapably post-apocalyptic. Anyone who knows anything about the origins of the hobby will have heard about early editions of D&D breaking through to the mainstream, becoming a fad, finding their way into every American shop, and eventually turning up in the opening scene to ET. We all know this history, we carry it within us.

The strange thing is that (despite dealing with different people, different places, different times, and different economic conditions) every subsequent popular history of RPGs seems to have maintained that post-apocalyptic vibe. We are always surveying the ruins of a collapsed empire or an imploded boom.

That post-apocalyptic vibe was also present the first time I went to a shop to buy an actual RPG. The shop in question was a local chain bookstore and while they did carry a load of gaming materials, they were all stacked on top of a shelving unit and you had to borrow a stool to get anywhere near them. I remember my friend scratching his head and muttering that the last time he had been there, the D&D books had had an entire section to themselves.

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