With the release of Pokemon Go, it was all too fitting that a video game store was labeled as a Gym.
I sat in Video Game Heaven with my good friend Roslyn, the manager for Chesapeake’s location. A huge video game franchise had deemed this independent video game shop as, well, a game itself. It was too perfect, I had to challenge it.
“Good luck,” she tells me.
While playing there in Video Game Heaven, I fondly remembered how I first encountered them.
It was two years ago, on a weekend that celebrated all manner of anime and geek culture – the first Ring of Fire Con. Attendees and vendors alike dressed up in costumes – there were photo shoots, all kinds of panels, an artist alley, and plenty of nerd merch on which to spend your money.
First, I was at trivia.
“What is the Killing Curse in Harry Potter?”
“Finish this quote: ‘Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi…’”
“What speed must the Deloreon hit before it can time travel?”
Such questions were posed as the hosts joked with the audience. Everyone’s energy was palpable, when a new friend handed me a paper.
“There’s a party later,” he said. “See you there?”
Scribbled on the back was a room number.
“Sure, see you there.”
I walked upstairs dressed as Cubone, a character from Pokemon. Entering the room, plenty had already gathered. I recognized someone from trivia earlier. As it would turn out, his name was Brock (and whoever likes Pokemon can make their own joke here).
“What are you doing at the con?” I asked.
“Helping vend for Video Game Heaven. They threw trivia earlier.”
It was then somebody picked up a mic. I noticed amps set up in the corner, a Mac, and three singers. One of which wore a Power Glove, an old Nintendo controller. Another had a retro console on a gold chain around his neck. This certainly caught my attention.
“Everyone give it up for the Nerdlucks!”
Woos ensued. The crowd circled around the singers. I later came to learn that this band was named after the aliens from the movie Space Jam.
I wasn’t prepared.
Raps overlaying old school video game beats and electronic inspired instrumentals filled the night. Songs such as “I RULE, HYRULE,” “Nerd Swag,” and lyrics like “They say I’m legendary, unnecessarily hard to find like a holographic Charizard in 1999” all killed me.
Fittingly, the gold chained singer was one of Video Game Heaven’s managers. I looked around the room and thought,
These guys do nerd concerts?
These guys do geek trivia?
These guys all sell video games?
Everyone there was somehow a part of the business. It was clear that a passion for gaming drove this collective of people to create not just a shop, but a culture.
A year later, that culture was brought to Ghent.
The newest location of Video Game Heaven opened on Colonial Ave. It is nestled closely to Cafe Stella, and, appropriately, Local Heroes Comics. Brock Childress, the first I met that night, is the manager of that shop. He, along with COO Nicholas Simmons and their crew, brings new and vintage gaming to the world.
Such is Video Game Heaven, where the souls of old games are given new life. Bring your old games to trade for new ones. It’s a lovely concept that started with one woman.
22 years ago, this woman traversed from yard sale to yard sale in pursuit of used games, consoles, and accessories. After, she flipped them at a small shop in a flea market.
The business grew, and was passed down to her son, Dave Leary. The first official Video Game Heaven opened in Chesapeake. Today, it is managed by Roslyn Rosmus, a sweetheart and geek at heart (go see her!). Altogether, there are three locations: Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, and Norfolk.
When I asked COO Nick Simmons for an insider’s look, he spoke of the struggle against the corporate world and the philosophy of VGH. He emphasized giving the best deals for buying and selling, as well as inclusivity.
“We’re all gamers, and gamers are a huge pool of people… but what unites us is our love of the art form. So we do our absolute best to be as inclusive as we can… Vintage, Retro, Classic, Current, we carry it all, anything video game related we want, have, and carry.”
This same Nick is the host for Geek Night Trivia. Now pairing with O’Connor Brewing, VGH creates new geek inspired questions for you to answer with beer in hand. Relatedly, O’Connor’s will be hosting VGH’s 23rd birthday next week on July 31st. The party also doubles as a celebration for the new Harry Potter book release.
The concerts continue as well. VGH hosts nerdcore legends such as Mega Ran, Coolzey, Schaffer the Darklord, and, of course, the Nerdlucks. (See that retro-console-chained-manager at the Virginia Beach store! It’s also a Pokemon Gym!)
The employees of VGH are closely linked with each other and their fellow geek shops – not only in business, but in real friendship. They support each other at work, and outside of work. And it continues through to the customers.
This is all to say, we are glad to have them in Norfolk. Welcome, Video Game Heaven, to Ghent.
For more on VGH, click here.