The Lost Art of Renting Games: Blockbuster

Kids today will never understand...

I know it is irrelevant and it’s 2019, but I’m going to say it anyway; I miss Blockbuster. There was something magical about going into a Blockbuster as a kid, and I feel sorry that children of this day and age will have no idea what Blockbuster was or even the concept of how it worked for that matter. “What, you went into a store to find games or movies to rent, and if you couldn’t find it you had to settle for another?” Yep, that’s the way we had it back in the day. Simpler times.

Nowadays, video game rentals are pretty much non-existant. If you want to test out a game you can download the trial version and play it on your system. If you like it you can go out to the store and buy the disk or even buy a downloadable version on the system itself. In the rare chance that one does want to rent a game, Redbox is a solid option. You can literally go on their website, find a game, put in your ZIP code, and see which Redboxes near you currently have the game. That is pretty far out.

As a boy, I loved going into Blockbuster. The process would go something like this. Your parents would want to watch a movie or two, so you’d tag along to find something for you as well. I could get lost in a Blockbuster for hours, walking up and down each aisle, examining the box art on every movie and video game they had in the place. What’s a gremlin? I don’t know but it kind of looks freaky. Who is this Hellboy, and why would anyone watch a movie about him? The options inside of a Blockbuster were endless.

There were so many choices to make in the video game aisle. Do I get the same game that I have rented the past few weeks or do I go with a new one? These decisions were life and death for a child with nothing better to do. The worst thing ever was when you really wanted to test out a game and it wasn’t there. How was I going to live knowing that I couldn’t take home Mario Kart or Donkey Kong 64 that day? I’d have to find my second-best option, something that this generation doesn’t understand with all of the instant gratifications they receive. If the people growing up in today’s world want something, they want it immediately.

Once you had picked out whatever movies and video games you wanted, you checked them out at the register. This register was Heaven to a kid. Like in an actual movie theater, you had the options of limitless candy, treats, and popcorn. You would beg your mom for those Sno-Caps, or for that Baby Bottle Pop, or any of the other several options at your helm. For me, it was always pleading for a quarter for a gumball, with the hope that a blue one would roll out. It was almost always white or orange, two of the worst flavors, but a kid never loses hope.

One day, I’m going to be that parent telling my children they don’t realize how lucky they have it. I’ll be going on how back in my day, we didn’t all have internet at the palm of our hands and cars were once driven by people, not by themselves. Then I’ll tell them about how I had to go to rent movies and games in person, and they’ll look at me in awe as if I’m a pre-historic creature or something. I hope that at least there will be a Blockbuster museum or something in the future, because everyone deserves to experience Blockbuster once in their lifetime.

Grant Pfost, your gamer bro, enjoys long binges on the couch when he's not binge drinking like he's still in college. A connoisseur of tv and film, Grant hopes his articles will make you laugh, cry, and appreciate the little things in life.

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