Gamestop is a company that many gamers either love or they hate. Gamers are vocal about their adverse thoughts on the company, but what does a part time employee think?
This is what I hope to be a multi-part blog series on my observations and experiences working for one of the largest video game retailers in the world. I have been there for about a year, and I have seen some pretty interesting things from the customers that come in and how they act inside the store.
I see some really interesting people when I work, and I must say that many gamer stereotypes are highly present in a normal days operations. You get the soccer moms and their annoying spoiled children, the hardcore gamer, the collector and the sketchy people trading in games for cash. Trust me, this is the norm and it stopped being interesting the first day. What really excites me is when I get the off-beat customers who generally seem interested in what you have to tell them. Or, the ones that break the stereotypical mold that is the norm.
Just the other day, a customer who was in her mid 40s, give or take, came in and wanted to buy a copy of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. Trying to make small talk, I asked her if the game was for her child or for a gift. She gave a small chuckle and smiled at me. "No, this game is for me" she told me. This was surprising, because she just did not seem to be the type of woman that would play this game. It was a slow night, so I asked what other games she played, and she told me. "What do I play? I am mainly a PC gamer, and right now I am getting back into Oblivion. My Dark Elf just upgraded his stealth, so I can sneak around Skingrad pickpocketing".
After she left (I spared her the reserve + subscription stuff because how nice she was), I realized how mainstream gaming really has become. I know games are advertised as much a movies and music and all of that, but the fact that it is now reaching into the older demographics is a nice change of pace. This woman is playing a hardcore RPG that requires time and a fair amount of skill. My parents can barely operate a computer let alone sneak around with finesse and pickpocket NPCs.
We get all sorts of gamers at my store, and as a result I do have to adapt my service to accommodate them. This sounds extremely superficial, and yes it is. I put on a facade when talking with many people, but I do it because I like to observe these people. Too often you get the stereotype nerdy gamer image, but when you actually look, you see everyone and every clique. The way these people (some, not all) talk about games is a really enriching experience.
Coming to this site, you easily get opinions from other gamers. Each and every user has their own way of gaming and their own habits. But, this is a "gamers" website, so everyone here is accustomed to games and talking about them. At Gamestop, you get the normal customer who does not have this experience that we do. So, when they tell me how amazing a certain game is, or tell me why they did not like it, you get this other voice that you never hear. How does the rich executive feel about Ratchet and Clank? How does the high school jock feel about FEAR 2? You can not get this anywhere else. While customers can be jerks (that comes with a customer service job), the few that actually engage you in conversation can truly offer you a new perspective on things, something which I realized I was sorely lacking in.
Yes, Gamestop is a company that does things wrong sometimes. But, they do things right, and I have no right to complain whatsoever. I have a job that pays my bills, and I work at a place that caters to a hobby of mine. What do i get out of working here, though? The people that come in and care about games and actually are interested.
Those customers that do sketchy cash trades, though? Do not get me started on them.