These days I doubt very many people make their gaming choices based on simply perusing the stacks of available titles and making choices on box art and descriptions on the back. A lot of my choices were made in such a way and in the early to mid 90's there was no better place to do this than the MASSIVE gaming section of Toys R Us.
I would go to Toys R Us well into my 20's without a clue as to what I was there to buy. I had no plan on genre let alone what specific title I was there to buy. You need to keep in mind that the internet was still in its infancy at that point in time and streaming video clips wasn't going to happen either. Even if you had the internet, it was going to take you ages to find any information on any specific game as we were all still reading magazines back at that point and the magazines for the most part couldn't be depended on because the popular ones were most likely paid by game makers to say nice things about particular titles even if what they were saying wasn't necessarily true. This is still true today as well as I have noted many times in there being a massive disparity between "professional reviews" and "user reviews" for many games, most notibly anything that is made by Square-Enix and especially Final Fantasy.
Myself and my gaming nerd friends would often spend hours in this part of the store, reviewing each of the game slips and making our choice based on the game photos, box art, and descriptions. Some of the bigger titles would have display units where you could try out the games as well but obviously this wouldn't apply to titles like RPG's, which were usually my favorites.
I'm not gonna say that all my choices were good ones because the marketing teams were often capable of convincing you to buy a game by using some devious tactics such as only including cutscene photos and not really including much of the actual gameplay photos. I ended up with some real stinkers and if you look at the prices for the games above and do a little math you will see that games were actually far more expensive than they are now. $60 in 1992 would be nearly $120 today according to official inflation records and all the games pictured above were Sega Genesis games.
Because at that time I was working piddlly jobs most likely for minimum wage, this was a very important decision because I didn't have rich parents that were going to shell out money for me - I had to earn my own.
I was too young to remember it but Toys R Us had used this strategy for many years as you can see in the above photo where basically everything is Atari. They didn't really have much in the way of competition in the early 80's.
It was a great time to be alive in gaming because the industry was very different than it is today. These days I only have 1 game box in my house for my PS4 despite owning around 60 games. It is also very easy for us to see tons of game footage before making a decision on which game to buy.
It was an exciting and somewhat nerve-wracking experience because it could also go terribly wrong for you. Since at that time I was probably making something like $5-$7 an hour making a poor decision meant that I was going to have to wash a LOT more dishes before I was going to be able to get another one!
Did you experience this time? If so, I'd love to hear about it in the comments!