Michael Auricchio remembers getting his first Nintendo video game system as a Communion present when he was 6 years old. After playing Super Mario Brothers for the first time, he was hooked.
And when he wasn’t playing video games at home, Auricchio spent countless hours ringing up customers at his parents’ pharmacy, Seaport Chemists. Patrons dubbed the youngster behind the register “The Mayor of Port Jefferson.”
Now, the 28-year-old’s childhood has come full circle as he spends his days ringing up customers at his Stony Brook hybrid video game arcade and retail store, The Revolution.
“Playing in the same room with someone has always been better,” said Auricchio, of Stony Brook. “I’m a big people person. I enjoy hanging out with people.”
The 2002 Ward Melville High School grad’s career path is as eclectic as his video game collection. His love of jazz music paved the way for him to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston. But he dropped out and returned to Long Island after his father, Carmine Auricchio, died of a brain aneurysm in 2004.
After returning to Long Island, Auricchio pursued a number of careers, from selling cars and car insurance to various retail jobs. But he never forgot his love for video games and what they meant to him growing up.
Auricchio’s vision for The Revolution evolved out of his own disappointment in other video game stores on Long Island. He found it difficult to shop at stores like GameStop, where employees were constantly trying to upsell new items.
“It’s all about having fun,” Auricchio said. “I feel like the corporation world and the franchise world has sucked the fun out of video games.”
So Auricchio modeled his store on what he always wanted to see as a gamer himself. On the retail side, Auricchio sells a wide selection of modern and classic game titles, ranging from “Call of Duty” and “NHL ‘13” to retro hits like “Sonic the Hedgehog” and “Street Fighter II” for Sega Genesis.
Many of the games in the store come from Auricchio’s own personal collection of titles and classic systems like the Atari 2600 and TurboGrafx.
For customers looking to recapture the feel of a video arcade from the '90s, The Revolution has gaming stations equipped with plasma TVs and projector screens surrounded by plush leather chairs.
Customers can play either their own games or a title in the store on any of the 11 video game systems Auricchio has connected to the screens.
“It’s a clean environment and it’s for all ages,” said Alex Davila, 50, of Selden, whose son Joshua has competed in video game tournaments at the store. “It keeps all these young kids off the streets.”
Auricchio hosts frequent game tournaments, such as last week’s Mario Kart tournament. Players ranged in age from 12 to 31 and featured three sets of four players on three screens. The winning player received a free T-shirt or bobblehead and their picture on the store’s wall of champions.
“I’ve never had this many people playing before,” said Auricchio, during last weekend’s tourney. “This is what I wanted.”
Reigning Mario Kart Champion Thomas Borgia, 18, of East Setauket, won the competition, successfully defending his title. Borgia won the store’s first Mario Kart tournament just two weeks ago.
“I just grew up with [video games] so it’s a big part of my life,” said Borgia. “I like the thrill. I like winning.”