CHICAGO -- Video retailers are missing out on a lucrative business opportunity by not selling more games, said Rick Karpel, executive vice president of the Video Software Dealers Association, Encino, Calif. The game rental market is estimated at more than $1 billion, said Karpel at VSDA's Videogame and New Technology Conference here recently. But "video retailers have barely scratched the surface of the enormous potential of the video game market," he said. Because most customers who rent games do so to sample products, game sales are a natural extension of the rental business, he said. "If a kid returns a game he rented and wants to buy his own copy, why should you send him to the Toys R Us across town?" Karpel asked. "If a customer rents a game and likes it, he wants to keep going. If he's got to return it to your store, and you have the game for sale at the right price, he's very likely to buy it from you -- new or used," he said. "As an industry, we are losing hundreds of millions of dollars because we aren't selling enough games," said Karpel. Many of the problems video retailers have with the games business come about because retailers are not yet an important distribution channel to the games manufacturers, he said. "Most of these companies are growing at breakneck speed and the demands on [the top executives'] time are very great. So it won't be easy to convince them to take the time to listen to our concerns and to learn about how our industry works," he said. Video retailers need to learn more about the games themselves, he noted. "Many of you got into this business because you love movies. You watch a lot of movies, read a lot about movies and, in general, educate yourselves about the product," he said. "On the other hand, very few video retailers know much about video games and even fewer actually play video games. As a result, there is a lack of video game product awareness in our industry," said Karpel.