Live Action Games is CU’s largest vintage video game store where you can buy-sell-trade classic and modern video games and systems in downtown Champaign. CCP spoke with Owner Adrian Astorina.
First off, Happy 7th Anniversary to Live Action Games! Tell us about yourself and when you opened Live Action Games.
My family is originally from Australia. We moved here for my dad’s work for the U of I as a back end computer guy. It wasn’t my idea to open a business; someone suggested it to me. They said, “You have a shitty job, you should open a business” and I said “Video game store!” and 6 months later we had a video game store. We’ll be celebrating our 7 year anniversary on July 1st.
As the shop owner of CU’s largest vintage video game store, what does a typical day look like in your role?
This place runs itself; it’s pretty easy. People can bring me stuff (video games) they don’t want that’s lying around the house, then we check the condition, and then we make an offer. We can either do cash or store credit, but that’s pretty much how we get all of our inventory.
Your shop has been reviewed as one of the best retro game stores in the Midwest. How do you ensure that you have such a strong and wide selection of games in-stock?
I can’t really control it too much… I mean, if it comes in, it comes in. We have other places in town and close to town that do the same thing as we do, so it’s a battle of how much can I pay you for something vs. how much somebody else is and how much I feel like is enough to pay you to not insult you.. It’s this whole thing, you know? People are going to go where they go and it is what it is.
You participated last year in the Parade of Lights. Can you tell me a bit more about that?
That was our first year doing that. We were a part of a kids’ scavenger hunt before the parade. We had a lot of people walk through here that didn’t know about our shop before. And generally, when people go downtown they go over there (towards Neil and Walnut St), so it was nice to have people venture on this side of University Avenue.
You also recently won the Champaign #ShopLocal photo promotion. Which photo did you submit?
Me and my buddy doing a high five. We were doing a high five sale and we got it in the air. It took way too long to take that photo. It was a really good photo, but I’ve got a whole reel of us screwing up. I guess I don’t have really great hand-eye coordination, and there were some times where I would almost smack him in the face while doing it. It was great.
We understand you will soon be moving to a new location downtown where you have purchased a building (and will live there too!). What inspired your move and interest in living downtown? What do you think makes downtown so special?
I’m assuming rent here is going to start going up if they build the MTD rink (“The Yards” development project) behind us. So, for us, it just seemed like the better choice to buy a building where it’s going to be cheaper than renting a spot. I like that there’s live music playing in downtown and it’s nice because I can just walk everywhere and do anything I need.
*Update: Live Action Games is now located at 111 N. Market Street in Downtown.
What are some of your favorite Downtown spots?
I went to Sam’s Cafe for breakfast yesterday, which was pretty killer. I just walked there, it’s nice.
How do you choose which Limited Run games to highlight in-store?
We buy ‘em all. Whatever they release, we buy, and we’re the only store in Illinois that does that. It’s our little exclusive at this point. So we don’t pick and choose; we just do everything. We also don’t sell online – it’s all local. I figure that if we sell online, there’s a lot of good stuff that won’t be traded back into the store. So, if I get a really hard to find/rare game and I sell it locally and the person wants to trade it in, it’s more likely to come back to the store than with someone from another state.
How has Live Action Games benefited from Champaign Center Partnership?
This is my first year as a renewing member. Last year, CCP came to us and said “Let’s do this!” and it’s been pretty kickass since then. They’ve done a wonderful job increasing our store’s visibility and exposure in the downtown community.
Finally, what is your personal favorite video game?
I will always say Final Fantasy Tactics on PlayStation 1.