Brand new to the Stony Brook area, The Revolution gaming store is anything but your ordinary, corporate warehouse filled with commercial zombies and customer-service peddling robots.
This is the mentality that fuels The Revolution, as well as founder Michael Auricchio, who is against the direction corporate America has taken video gaming. An avid gamer since childhood, Auricchio’s first Super Nintendo Entertainment System was the beginning of his relationship with gaming and the Nintendo brand. This relationship was one of the main factors in his decision to open his own retail store.
“I was in first grade and I got a Super NES and that was pretty much it,” said Auricchio. “I had an older brother so it was funny because I’m pretty good at games, I guess, so they always got upset with me.”
Another factor in what Auricchio calls his “crazy decision” to open a store was his father, who worked in retail for most of his life. Auricchio and his friends were employed at his father’s pharmacies, which eventually led to managerial positions that Auricchio never really enjoyed.
The money gained from those positions, though, was what gave him the capital to open The Revolution and make it the unique gaming experience it is today.
Multiple gaming stations are set up around the store, complete with large-screen televisions and any game system a customer would want to play. Complemented by plastic, green backdrops, on which iconic characters from the Super Mario series race, these stations are also the setting for their weekly Saturday tournaments, which Auricchio calls his favorite day of the week.
“I have a winner wall for all my winners who win my tournaments, every time they win they get their picture up on the wall, they get a prize from the store, whether it be a t-shirt, a hat, a keychain, and they get bragging rights,” said Auricchio. “They get to defend their title for free, so next time we run that specific tournament that they won, they can come and play for free and defend their title, the branded champ.”
But the store is not the only thing decked out in gaming gear. Even the bathrooms have the gaming charisma typical of The Revolution. Classic images of game characters line the walls, with a few ships from the Star Wars series hanging from the ceiling.
“The best thing to have in something like this, which I have to note on my little community board, is the friends and family that helped me, that got me here because I definitely could not do this alone,” said Auricchio. “I have a great network of friends and family that really stepped up and helped me out with everything, from picking up things to getting good prices on things, to just elbow grease.”
With competition from bigger companies like GameStop and Best Buy, there was a concern of how big of a profit they would turn, but The Revolution has something other than a friendly, knowledgeable staff to set them apart.
Keeping with his anti-corporate views, starting a franchise is not in the interest of Auricchio for the future of The Revolution.
“This is for Three Village,” said Auricchio. “If expansion is my long term goal, then my short term goal is getting into the green and getting to the point where it’s profitable and it’s working. I would rather not open multiple stores; it’s what we’re fighting here at Revolution. We’re fighting the franchises and fighting the corporations.”
In terms of pre-ordered games and new releases, The Revolution has a unique plan for giving their customers what they want in that aspect as well. Aside from tournaments, the game stations are also used for release nights, where customers can play the games that came prior to the new release in the series, or if it’s a new series, play other games in anticipation.
“We make releases a little more fun. You’re not waiting in line in the cold, you’re inside playing the last release of it or playing games if it’s a brand new game that no one’s ever heard of and we all want,” said Auricchio.
The new shop can even be called a small community, especially on nights like these. Three Village residents, young and old, come out for gatherings, like the Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 release. Auricchio had the room playing the first Black Ops while they waited, and at midnight, customers ripped open their games right in the store and played with fellow customers and employees.
Customer service is something that Auricchio holds in high regard, a trait he says he inherited from his father. With the warm welcome of old-school arcade machines at the front of the store, and an even warmer welcome from its employees, corporate America may have met their match with Stony Brook’s own Revolution.