Confessions of a Game Store Clerk - Part One

GamesRadar: Starting from the beginning... what made you want to work at a videogame store in the first place?

Employee #1: Who wouldn't want to spend their days hanging out with friends, talking about videogames and getting paid to do it?

Employee #2: I thought it would be fun. I thought I knew enough about games that I could be informative when customers had questions about them...

Employee #3: I wasn't really looking for a job in gaming, but since I bought a lot of games, I figured it would be good to get a discount.

Employee #4: I got really tired of working at Hollywood Video. That place sucks ass.

GamesRadar: Was the job what you expected going in?

#1: Well, it was kinda scary to see how fanatical some people are when it comes to videogames...

Employee #5: People are less informed than I would have thought, too. I'd go so far as to say ignorant.

Employee #6: And there was a good deal of responsibility and duties expected for a job that starts out paying minimum wage.

Employee #7: Yeah, a lot of boring and tedious work - daily price changes, inventory counts and then the whole "no gaming while on the clock" policy.

GamesRadar: If you're not supposed to be playing games, what do you do in an average day?

#6: Clock in, stand around and BS with other employees about the moronic customers that had come in prior to my clocking in, organize the store, sell stuff, attempt to get reservations for games that aren't out yet, sell some more stuff, clean the store, close out the register, and clock out.

#4: Deal with stupid kids that ask 20+ questions and then don't buy anything.

#2: Or there are a lot of questions from uninformed people, usually middle aged women, who are just in there to buy some random game for their kids.

#5: You show up, do the system counts, put out 1,000 bin games and scan tickets which were always wrong. Then get interrupted to take a swing set to a customer's car every half hour. Fun.

GamesRadar: Clearly, you don't or didn't all work at the same chain. So what do most game stores or game store sections have in common? Describe the average.

#6: All game stores are exactly alike. If you've walked into one, you've walked into all of them: gaudy, mostly neon advertisements plastered to all available wall space boasting not-so-great deals on crap no one wants; games and guides scattered everywhere by customers whose Mommies never taught them to put things back when they're done with them; all employees gathered behind the counter engaged in intense discussion over the latest nerdy topic; little kids fighting over the demo unit until they're scooped up by mothers who are now done shopping... "Thanks for babysitting my kids for free." You get the idea.

GamesRadar: Flipping the mirror, how would you guys describe the average game store employee?

#7: We are jaded gamers that thought it'd be great fun to play games at work, but forgot the work part of the equation.

#3: True... good employees know that even though we deal with games, it's still a business. You have to be up to date on your product. Be able to talk to people intelligently and have a good work ethic. Then there are the people that come in everyday to ask for applications who think that all we do is sit around and play games.

GamesRadar: That's definitely a popular stereotype. What other assumptions do people make about you?

#1: That we're all single, nerdy and pasty pale from never venturing outdoors during the day. Socially inept and our lives revolve around videogames.

#4: People think we don't have a life and play Dungeons & Dragons after work.

#6: Yeah... geeky girlfriend-less males that get paid to stand around and play videogames all day.

#2: Or that we're condescending jerks... which is true in many cases. Especially after the 50th phone call that day asking if we have any Nintendo Wiis in stock.

GamesRadar: So those assumptions are untrue?

#6: There is very little "playing" involved in the job.

#4: The "don't have a life" part...

#5: Yeah... that I wouldn't have a lot of friends, or a girlfriend, or enjoy partying. That I'm supposed to be socially incompetent...

#1: If we didn't know how to talk to people, we wouldn't last very long.

GamesRadar: Then which stereotype is most accurate?

#1: Our lives do revolve around videogames. It takes a certain kind of person to rationalize that putting up with some of the most annoying customers on the face of the planet is worth a near-inconsequential discount on videogames.

#7: We are into gaming enough that we work at a game store and we're probably some of the few people that get excited about things like standees and mint copies.

#5: I do play a lot of games. I have a lot of videogame shirts. I am a huge nerd, yes.

#3: Well, most of us are nerds, but that doesn't mean we don't have lives. I love to play games and read books as well as go out to the bar with my girlfriend.

GamesRadar: Going back to your average work day... when the store's not crazy busy, what do you and your coworkers do to pass time?

#2: Talk about games that we want.

Employee #8: Talk shit to each other... in a loving way.

#7: Ever seen High Fidelity? Like that but with videogames. We pose hypothetical situations and top five lists.

#1: Once, we had a contest to see who could draw the best using their non-dominant hand. It was also a lot of fun to put demo discs in the microwave.

#6: At one point, the store was trying to sell these generic Nintendo beanie babies – Mario, Yoshi, some guy from Banjo Kazooie... We used to lob them at each other like hand grenades. It was awesome! One time, Mario made it out the front doors, skidded across the polished mall thoroughfare, and came to rest on the carpet inside the adjacent StrideRite.

Charlie Barratt
I enjoy sunshine, the company of kittens and turning frowns upside down. I am also a fan of sarcasm. Let's be friends!