by Sarah A. Peterson-Camacho
There’s a new game in town—a game store, that is! Fresno’s Tower District is now home to GoBack Gaming, a throwback game shop big on 90s nostalgia and classic trading card games. Kings River Life caught up with owners Victor Gutierrez and Yvonne Stever to chat about Pokémon, the 90s heyday of trading cards, and the future of going back.
Kings River Life: What is GoBack Gaming’s origin story?
Yvonne Stever: GoBack Gaming was a dream Victor has had for the last five years. He has helped other stores run Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) events and had been wanting to open a store for some time. Victor likes to be called GoBack Man, which is a nickname he made up in 2007, and put GoBack on most things he did in everyday life. He now goes by “Professor GoBack,” and he felt GoBack Gaming was the perfect way for players who knew who he was to realize that he had opened a store.
Victor Gutierrez: Yes. I have been playing the Pokémon TCG since I was in the sixth grade. During middle school, I also started to play other TCGs like Yu-Gi-Oh. Once I got into high school, I met many people who also enjoyed playing TCGs, and I’m still friends with many of them to this date.
KRL: Did you grow up gaming?
KRL: How have games and gaming culture changed since the 1990s?
VG: So, growing up in the 90s, there weren’t very many people who wanted to play card games; it was considered unpopular. As time went on, more and more people got interested in Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh, and we saw entire communities growing. Eventually there were other card games in school, like Duel Masters and Zatch Bell!. There were about three super popular card shops in Fresno and Clovis. Now there are about eighteen different shops that support TCGs in the Valley. There are entire communities for most of the games which give players plenty of options.
KRL: What do you miss most about the 1990s?
VG: The main thing I personally miss about the 90s was that most players home-brewed their decks. Since there were no real websites that posted deck lists, most players did their best to figure out how to properly build their deck, and would get input from other players. This was a good time for new players to be mentored by veteran players, and new ideas were always brewing.
KRL: What kinds of cards do you sell? What are your bestsellers?
VG: We sell most TCGs that are available, including TCG’s that started off as Kickstarter games. We sell Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Magic: The Gathering, which are considered the Big 3. We also sell Weiß Schwarz, which is our bestseller. It’s a card game based mainly on Japanese anime such as Attack on Titan, Seven Deadly Sins, Is It Wrong to Pick Up a Girl in a Dungeon, and many more! We carry English and Japanese versions of these games.
KRL: What has the community response been like?
VG: The community response to our store has been amazing. We still get new customers in every day, and most still have the same response, which is they are glad they no longer have to drive across town to fuel their hobby. They also say it’s nice to just walk to a store instead of driving to one.
KRL: What kinds of events has GoBack Gaming hosted?
VG: We hold weekly events for our most popular card games. We also run Pre-Release events for card games, before the newest sets come out. This means our customers get to buy products before the official release; it’s one of the benefits of being an LGS (Local Game Store).
KRL: Any upcoming events you’d like our readers to know about?
VG: We will be running the Pokémon Pre-Release for Scarlet and Violet for the Pokémon TCG in March. Players will be able to get their hands on the newest Pokémon set two weeks before it officially comes out.
KRL: What are your favorite cards to collect?
VG: My all-time favorite cards to collect are Crobats in the Pokémon trading card game. Crobat is my favorite Pokémon, and I just love having as many as I can get.
For more information on GoBack Gaming and its future events, please visit their Facebook page.
Professor Goback is the one who helped teach my kids how to play Pokémon TCG. He’s a good guy and runs a good store.
I have known Professor Goback since High school and I’m lucky to call him my best friend. Victor had this vision all the way back than. Wouldn’t it be cool to open a card shop and he made it his reality.