My wife takes my hand. “I know, dear. I know.”
It’s just something I have to say every once in a while. When I first moved to Michigan in 2000, I quickly found Media Play as my go-to geek hangout. It was a perfect one-stop-shopping experience for what I craved: books, movies, and video games. Every week I’d visit at least twice to comb the racks and find something new to take home. I became such a regular shopper, in fact, that many of the clerks and I knew each other fairly well.
Even with the insane ease of sites like Amazon when it comes to personal shopping these days, I do miss the tactile experience of wandering down an aisle and just browsing. Media Play is where I found so many of my favorite computer games in the 2000s, from Planescape: Torment to World of Warcraft. I remember the time when the call went out to reduce computer box sizes from these gargantuan creations to the now-sleek little packages we’re used to. I wasn’t a fan at the time, mostly because it would mess up how the boxes looked on my shelf, but I soon adapted.
Before I ever got into MMOs, I was at least aware of them thanks to Media Play. Almost every trip I’d pick up an EverQuest or Asheron’s Call box and muse about diving into online RPGs. I don’t know what held me back, exactly, other than a fear of being addicted and the crudeness of the graphics. But when City of Heroes released, I drove to Media Play on my way to work that morning to get a copy so that I could devour the manual on my lunch break and then play it the minute I went home.
All of the Media Plays went bankrupt in 2006, which absolutely bummed me out. The last couple months I visited often (now with my wife) to pick over the dwindling supplies and say goodbye to the store. The only other store that offered the same mixture of geek goods in the area was Best Buy, and that wasn’t nearly as conveniently located. Gamestop is the devil, there were no EB games in the area, and Circuit City had also closed down. So when Media Play finally closed its doors, I fully converted to online shopping.
So yeah, some days I miss Media Play. Not that I’d be going there much these days if it was open, but you know how it is — you want your favorite places to endure whether or not you visit them. What were some of your favorite stores over the years?