Sheffield city centre is not the bustling and thriving space that it once was, in years past.
Many shops have moved out of the area, with some hanging on or moving away from Fargate and into the more recently developed Moor Market area.
But, should you ever find the time to wander further down Fargate and towards the Magistrates Courts, you will pass a rather unassuming building on the corner that is home to something really special.
Opposite Greggs and Argos is the National Videogame Museum which is, as the name suggests, a museum dedicated entirely to videogames – past and present. As soon as you enter the building, you can hear the familiar 8-bit videogame sounds that have become synonymous with classic consoles such as the Nes.
Once inside the main museum area, you will be greeted by the well-stocked gift shop – offering anything and everything that a gamer’s heart may desire! There are books telling you the history of video games, visual compendiums, merchandise such as mugs and stationary, posters, wall art… the list goes on and on.
During my visit, on a rather gloomy Friday afternoon, I was met by a friendly member of staff who ran through the ticket prices with me: £10 for a standard ticket, £8 for concessions. This threw me, I am used to paying through the nose for entrance to anything that counts as “culture”.
Once through to the main hall, I was surrounded by, well, video games! For £10 you can stay as long as you like and play every single game on offer – of which there are a lot – if you want.
And there is truly something for everyone; from your hardcore gamer that knows their Snes from their Nes, to someone who just fancies a mess-about on the arcades.
I was told by a member of staff that the museum was originally named the National Video Game Arcade and was situated in Nottingham before the team moved it across to Sheffield and chased museum status.
As it is now – or soon to be, officially – a museum, the National Videogame Museum is a registered charity and runs culture, educational and vocational programmes for people from various communities.
And to have a wander around the museum is truly a sight to behold, with literal walls of games in every direction. Fancy playing some Super Mario? They’ve got it! Sonic the Hedgehog? Check! Donkey Kong? Street Fighter? Ms Pac Man? Check, check, check!
And it is not just huge, international names on offer at the museum, either; you can play games made right here in Sheffield – and they looked like a blast, too.
Sadly, I did not get a chance to sit down and have a play with any of the games, but I did stare wistfully at Sonic the Hedgehog for a while and remember the fun that I used to have playing that game as a kid.
In one of the display boxes, which showcased rare or vintage games and consoles, I was also drawn to the many versions of Mortal Kombat, which I think will always be my favourite game (not least because I was so good at it back in the day!).
Though I have enjoyed dabbling in the world of videogames throughout the years, I would not consider myself “a gamer” and yet, despite this, I had a great time looking around and would love to go back.
So, if you are someone that eats, breathes and sleeps videogames and you have not yet been to the National Videogame Museum: make it your next stop, you will not regret it.