224: Behind the Counter at GameStop

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Behind the Counter at GameStop

Ever since he was a young boy, Jason Fanelli had a dream: to sell games at a specialty retailer like GameStop. Over a decade later, that dream finally became a reality. But would actually working behind the counter live up to his expectations?

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I've always gone to my local EB Games and gotten whatever new title had cought my eye. But, they stoped being interested in PC games after gamestop bought them out. And i've heared lots of negativity about gamestop. I still go in there to get my new games but, I seem to have lost my respect for the store. Sorry, to sound like a PC Gaming elitist but, its the only platform that I actually have any good games on.

It seems that It'd be great to work there for keeping up to date on whats happening, but how do you deal with the anti-gaming mothers and the whiny little kids? (My friends sister works at the game section of Futureshop) just curious to see if you have any funny stories about that.

I can't help but feel like having to work selling games and know all about them regardless of whether or not I've played them like that would have quite a negative effect on my personal gaming.

I'm also surprised by the lack of mention about grievances provided by a lot of gamespot employees (see Zero Originality).

This article was kind of a slope toward disappointment. The title seemed interesting enough. I used to work at a Gamestop a few years ago during a break between undergrad and law school. When I saw it was by an acting manager, I figured it might be a little slanted, but hey, there's plenty of anti-gamestop stuff out there already so let's hear both sides.

It ended up being cloyingly naive and one-sided. Someone really expected working at a store that sells games would somehow plug them into the "industry"? Come on. Working at Blockbuster doesn't plug you into the film industry, and essentially Gamestop cycles games through almost as many hands as a rental store (at least they hope to).

All in all, it would have been more interesting to hear someone who actively wanted (and still seems to want) to be a part of a much-reviled company say something to address the critics. If the writer is so upbeat, I don't want to force him to look at the company's dirty laundry, but he has to be aware of it. And I think someone so keen on the job might have an interesting perspective.

Oh well, not this time.

G-Mang:
I can't help but feel like having to work selling games and know all about them regardless of whether or not I've played them like that would have quite a negative effect on my personal gaming.

While I don't work for GameStop, I can tell you as a retailer myself that knowing everything about games is something I'd be doing even if I wasn't. In fact, I was doing all this, reading articles and magazines, consuming news voraciously, all of that I was doing before I got my job. And it's why how I'm a retailer now: it was my step in the door!

The only negative impact it's had on me is that I don't enjoy my time as a customer in a game store like I used to. I could spend hours in EBGames (back when they were called Electronics Boutique, I tell you!), just browsing, or maybe talking to the employees there if it was quiet. Now, I know the library of any standard game retailer back to front with a glance. I know all the new titles, what they're like, what people're buying, and what they're scorning.

And that provides some very interesting insights. Wii is well and truly -king-, in terms of numbers sold. Sports games have some seriously hardcore fans, and will absolutely turn a profit. Used games... they're not just good moneymakers, they're crucial to a retailer's success. These are things I might have disagreed with, or outright disbelieved, had I not worked where I do. I can also tell you that the population of gamers on The Escapist is -nothing- like the total gaming demographic, since Wii and DS rocked up.

What hasn't changed, and I don't see it changing anytime soon, is my love of gaming, and even moreso, my love of games. Knowing who made what, what companies just merged together or split, knowing -how- a game works doesn't detract; it enhances. But most importantly, games are still engines designed for FUN! And I get that out of them in spades, for so many reasons.

Jason, you wrote a great article. Gaming isn't my hobby, it's my life. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

how do you feel about having to sell disc doctors and push preorders?

Nice Article Jason. I had wanted to get a job at an EB back in the day, but the EB by me always had a long list of people waiting for a job there. Still I have spent many afternoons and evenings talking about games and helping various Mom's and Dad's pick out the best games for their kids.

Eudaemonian:

All in all, it would have been more interesting to hear someone who actively wanted (and still seems to want) to be a part of a much-reviled company say something to address the critics. If the writer is so upbeat, I don't want to force him to look at the company's dirty laundry, but he has to be aware of it. And I think someone so keen on the job might have an interesting perspective.

Oh well, not this time.

I'm just left wondering how much the Escapist was paid for this article.

I hope it was a good chunk of change.

The crowds at game conventions are already a deterrent, Add a legion of fruitcakes who work at Gamestop and it'll be like Idiocracy. They should just open up their own little convention as suggested; unless of course those meetings are really Bilderberg like conclaves where they figure out new ways of ripping off gamers. Then I can see why they wouldn't want their minimum wage grunts know how much money the company is really pulling in.

The employees tend to be great at Gamestop. It's the executives who are clueless about gaming.

Yeah, but he didn't even tell us if he has "Battletoads" for the Wii.

GonzoGamer:

I'm just left wondering how much the Escapist was paid for this article.

I hope it was a good chunk of change.

I'm not sure I'd go that far, but it is disappointing that they thought a virtually contentless article that reads like a PR release from Gamestop was a good idea. I tend to find that poor judgment is a better and more common explanation for things than genuine treachery.

wow, my roommate and i bought risen from you last week :) small world

I'll admit this article sounded like a recruitment advert for Gamestop. Yet nothing was mentioned about giving a total pittance to the gamers who try to trade in used games. Which is not a nice way to treat "the people who keep gaming alive" as the article would have us believe.

I don't mind the store taking home a profit - that's capitalism for you. But when they rip the customers off like that is nothing short of insulting. But sadly, as the gamers do choose to trade with Gamestop - nothing can be done about it because it's all done willingly.

There is an alternative to this in the form of selling your games online - but that's no guaranty that you'll get a sale. But if you do, you'll get far more money for your game. (And sweet FA if you don't.)

I guess the equation all boils down to:

Gamestop will definitely give you something for your games - a pittance and convenience.
Internet will give you more money, but more trouble in the form of postage and packing.

Gamestop would probably receive far more trade-ins if they didn't give such a pittance to the gamer for them.

Yay! What a nice thing to see! As an Eb Games / GameStop AssMan myself its awesome to see another write out just how Neat it really is to be on the other side of the counter!

I noticed that there were no children in ovens, no burning effigys, torturous screams from the back room, Subtle red horns growning from the forehead, etc..

Yay! I too am envyous of the vendor show. To not only go to a semi-personalized 'e3' for Eb/Gamestop managers, but to be wined and dined by the big three and more also seems very tantalizing! I cant wait till I get to bring home my own swag box to pass around to the kids at my store :)

Its a dirty job, but hey... I get to do it, you other schmucks can wait your turn :)

Eudaemonian:

GonzoGamer:

I'm just left wondering how much the Escapist was paid for this article.

I hope it was a good chunk of change.

I'm not sure I'd go that far, but it is disappointing that they thought a virtually contentless article that reads like a PR release from Gamestop was a good idea. I tend to find that poor judgment is a better and more common explanation for things than genuine treachery.

Don't get me wrong, I don't resent the escapist for taking kickbacks (if that's what was involved here) for publishing some questionable credible articles. I'm just saying that I hope that if that was the case, they made a lot of money.

That and I Hate Gamestop. As a consumer I generally don't like the price gouging or the pre-order scam, but it's the morons who work there that prevent me from shopping there anymore.

I read to the part where it said "Halo and Madden".
Then I figured I'd rather watch Screwattack's Nametags.

Drakey:
Yay! What a nice thing to see! As an Eb Games / GameStop AssMan myself its awesome to see another write out just how Neat it really is to be on the other side of the counter!

I noticed that there were no children in ovens, no burning effigys, torturous screams from the back room, Subtle red horns growning from the forehead, etc..

Yay! I too am envyous of the vendor show. To not only go to a semi-personalized 'e3' for Eb/Gamestop managers, but to be wined and dined by the big three and more also seems very tantalizing! I cant wait till I get to bring home my own swag box to pass around to the kids at my store :)

Its a dirty job, but hey... I get to do it, you other schmucks can wait your turn :)

This post is so enthusiastic that I really want it to be sarcastic, but I'm pretty sure it isn't. I'm really surprised that the "wow I work at a game store" euphoria persists for more than a couple week in the face of the reality of retail hell.

I guess I'm glad someone is doing these "dirty jobs". Then again, there's literally a gamestop every couple of blocks, so I could probably do without most of them. As for us "other schmucks", I can't speak for anyone but myself, but the year I took off before grad school working at a Gamestop made me enthusiastic. Not about Gamestop like this guy, but about going back and getting a real job before I got stuck into the sort of complacency that I see far too many people trapped in.

Well, Thank you Eudaemonian. Since the world has to many lawers already, I have chosen (yes 'Chosen') employment in retail. And it doesnt hurt or anything either:) Cheers to chosen career paths!

Drakey:
Well, Thank you Eudaemonian. Since the world has to many lawers already, I have chosen (yes 'Chosen') employment in retail. And it doesnt hurt or anything either:) Cheers to chosen career paths!

If you enjoy it, more power to you, but what do you say to all the criticisms of the company that are literally everywhere on the internet? Do you think they're false? Do you just not care?

We didn't get to hear this in Jason's article, but you seem just as hyped about your job, so maybe you can add some insight here.

I have a hard time understanding why someone would enjoy a demanding, low-pay job working for a company that's arguably hurting the industry that they care about. If you really do enjoy it, then fine. You don't have to explain it to me or anyone else. But when you call everyone else schmucks and assume they would want your job, I think that suggests you would be willing to explain why.

Ah, and yes, the world does have enough lawyers in aggregate, evidenced by layoffs in New York, but as it turns out my neck of the woods could use at least one more.

This would be an easy job for me, as I'm enthusiastic about gaming.I also think i'm good with people, which would endlessly help.

I have a sudden urge to buy my games from this Jason fellow!

Dead Space was developed by Visceral Games, the same studio behind The Godfather; but if my knowledge came solely from GameStop, I would think it was just EA behind both titles.

This is something that needs to be addressed ASAP, because the thinking behind consumer buying could be swayed away from the store if its an excellent game made by a third party with solid game development history, if only to not be bought on impulse buy because of the big evil publisher that market the game with their big evil publishing ways (like giving a third party lots of money to make the game, the dirtbags).... which until 18 months ago was EA.

Sometime I wonder whether I make any sense at all.

I always wanted a job around video games but unfortunately I think it would water down my view on games and that's pretty bad if that happens. In Australia I'd love to have guys like Jason run EB Games store because everyone who works at the ones here need the computer to tell them everything, probably to urinate too lol.

An interesting read, however, I don't understand how some people can be that interested in retail.

In relation to the comments about Gamestop / EB Games giving a pittance to gamers for their used games...
It's true that I don't like the small amount given for trade ins, or the small reduction in cost for buying used games.
However, I can see how EB Games has gotten away with their rates for so long, not having any decent competition
in used sales from other retail store chains until just recently.

I will admit that I don't know what the retail situation is like in the US. (I'm Canadian)
I find that used game sales at Blockbuster, buying games online from amazon.ca,
or getting them on steam seems to be the smarter way to buy games.

Oh man, I know almost exactly how this guy feels. I worked at GameStop for awhile, as a seasonal hire and it was a great experience but he brings up some good points. It really does take away from your gaming time, all the while adding to your broad knowledge of games as a whole. He mentions finding out about games/series by other employees - I've experience that too. I would've never known what the hell Fatal Frame or Katamari were if my (then) manager hadn't have said, "Hey, check this out!"

Behind the scenes, when no one's in the store, it's still busy for GameStop employees... "gutting" & price tagging all of the used games, making sure that everything is in alphabetical order in their respective areas (I really hate you people who pulled a game case up to look at it just to set it down wherever is most convenient instead of putting it back where you got it). All the while, you gotta be on your feet and ready to help someone the moment they walk in the door.

While I enjoyed the rewarding experience of working at GameStop like the author, for me it was a limited time experience.

I will try to offer some insite, and thank you for asking Eudaemonian.

To start, I appologize to anyone who may have taken the 'Schmucks' comment on a serious note, my intentions were certainly meant in a much more playful way.

To explain a little bit about my enthusiasm to work in retail, I enjoy being around people. The nice thing about Eb/GameStop, is that many of its patrons have a certain level of working cognative thinking that can be as entertaining as it is informative. This doesnt hold true for all cases, however; it makes a day go by nicely. After all, our industry is about entertainment:)

On the subject of Eb/GameStop as a big retailer as a whole, I dont always agree with every decision that comes down the pipe, however I do understand them. During my time with Eb/Gamestop I have learned that although a Utpic idea of its place in the world market might include Higher trade in values, or for some idealists, no pre-owned program at all, Eb/GameStop does try to be fair across the board. They have Customers on the frontline, Publishers and vendors who want thier products to be purchased and enjoyed by those customers, and shareholders who would also like thier own return on thier investments.

Its a never ending balancing act. I would have to say that I love the idea that the company is very community driven. I would gander that about 70%-85% (not fact checked) of the used games selection at an Eb/Gamestop is from the local consumer base... you (possibly) and your neighbors. Its like a hub of local gamers itching to try out the latest greatest, to the moldy oldie classics that can only be found used, as they are no longer published.

Eb/Gamestop carries Librarys upon volumes of entertainment, stories, information, hard work, and hard fun. Its mesmerizing just how much content is waiting to be enjoyed and devoured by those who want it. I see it much like a used record or book store, its a thrill because everything a gamer might be passionate about may verywell be sitting patiently for them to take home and enjoy.

I also Love the preowned program for more than just availablity of hard to find games. It offers the consumer a chance to resell a property (even if its more like an end user license) equally with others.

Thanks again for asking, and I hope this post offers some insite as to why I (and others) might find joy in working frontline retail in the Games industry :)

jrr:
how do you feel about having to sell disc doctors and push preorders?

this^ oh, and those little plastic disk covers that were supposed to be put on while the game was INSIDE THE CONSOLE.

Though to be fair, EB Games did have the only copy of Metal Gear Solid 3: Subs., too bad I found out later that the online portion had shutdown for MGO.

also, I like the EB Games/Gamestop covers for games they don't have the original cases for.

G-Mang:
I'm also surprised by the lack of mention about grievances provided by a lot of gamestop employees (see Zero Originality).

Same here. That's how I found out about the Escapist.

On a related note to this article, people signed up applications for playing games there when in fact that game retail is only there to SELL. Irregardless if any product functions decently, they are here to sell. That's why most people who go to gamestop are people who has no knowledge of gaming. At other times, GameStop employees aren't even gamers at all.

@Drakey

No offense, but that doesn't really answer my question. Why would an increase in market share cause a company to become anything but more ruthless?

I understand that a Gamestop store may collect gamers together to some extent, but I don't think we can really give the company much credit for that. It's a side effect, and not one they would much care about if it cost them a penny.

There's all this talk about the industry, and you can certainly get informed about games by working in a games store, but I think references to "the games industry" are erroneous. You are in the retail sales industry. Gamestop employees have much more in common with retail employees selling different products than they are, and indeed more in common with used car salesmen and pawnbrokers, than they do with anyone genuinely involved in "the games industry." As people have pointed out, and in my personal experience, sales skills are what are valued in a "Game Advisor" more than anything else. Game knowledge is useful if it can be presented convincingly and selectively, but BS Gaming Nonsense seemed to work just as well for the buxom Asst. Manager I worked with. Her numbers were good and no one cared that she couldn't tell Final Fantasy from Final Fight (or even put them in alphabetical order correctly).

GameStop doesn't make money by being friendly, gathering gamers together into a community, and providing useful information. It's a company. It's out to make money for its shareholders. I don't fault it for that, but I fault anyone who views it as something more favorably than a money machine. There are better stores, there are good employees, there are compassionate managers, but the machinery as a whole is designed to get people to pay money in advance for games (functionally an interest-free loan to the store), sell games for far less than they are worth (almost always in store credit), and buy used games in dubious condition for more than they could be acquired elsewhere.

It's quite good at what it does. You can't blame businesses for making money, but you can be a smart consumer and choose what's best for you, just like the business chooses what's best for itself. I couldn't put up with "choosing" to be part of a retail machine that rips off its customers as a core business model. Being encouraged to talk people into giving their games up for a pittance, buying "new" games that had been opened and oftentimes played, or fork over cash months in advance just so we would hold their game for 48 hours (maybe).

The series of videos linked at the beginning of this thread say it well (though somewhat more dramatically than I'd like to). I just don't see why employees and customers of gamestop would continue to choose that situation when there are better alternatives for all concerned (except people with gamestop stock).

I wanna get a part-time job at game, nut cba going to the office and getting a National Insurance Slip. To did go there for work experience and it was quite wholesome.

I'm sorry, but that article was....well written but it shows that he is an employee and thus can't bad mouth his job or have criticism with his company. Also, with the timing of the article and it's overall positive tone...it seems to me it most likely being used as a recruiting tool to get some more seasonal people at their stores.

I think a job at a game store would be fun, to be surrounded by what you love and to be around those who understand games as a job would be good.

Funny Coincidence, I am going to finalize employment at a gamestop in my area on Thursday, and just got the news today.... Weird

Eudaemonian:
I understand that a Gamestop store may collect gamers together to some extent, but I don't think we can really give the company much credit for that. It's a side effect, and not one they would much care about if it cost them a penny.

I do have to disagree with this. Bullet point #1 in retail marketing (as I understand it) is Get People in the Store. While it is true that getting people together is a side effect of getting people in the store, getting people together gets them BACK in the store. Repeat business is hugely important, and retail chains like Gamestop pay plenty of money to accomplish this and like-minded tasks (see: tournaments).

There's all this talk about the industry, and you can certainly get informed about games by working in a games store, but I think references to "the games industry" are erroneous. You are in the retail sales industry.

While true in spirit, this does have some limitations based in semantics. Related industries are part of the industry whole; when people talk about "how well the game industry is doing" it relates to how well games sell - in which case it must undoubtedly pass through merchant hands. Merchants therefore have at least some, if not a large impact on "the industry"; the distinction is vague. Especially since store managers get perks like the conference mentioned in the article.

I do agree that Gamestop employees shouldn't get a swelled head or big ideas about being "part of the industry". They are at best fringe members.

GameStop doesn't make money by being friendly, gathering gamers together into a community, and providing useful information.

Not entirely true. If the company is known to spread misinformation, for instance, people will avoid it.

One thing people seem to misunderstand about the retail industry is that while used-car-salesman tactics may be lucrative in the short run, they are NOT sustainable. Being a big company isn't about turning a quick buck but remaining relevant and profitable over the next 10 years.

Now I'm not saying Gamestop is perfect; far from it. But a lot of the bad press it gets is blown out of proportion, conditional, or outright undeserved. If there are better alternatives, go to them. Let them drive Gamestop into the ground.

Gunner 51:
I'll admit this article sounded like a recruitment advert for Gamestop.

Probably not the author's fault. I expect he had to ask approval from GameStop before submitting this piece. (And even if he didn't, I imagine he's smart enough to work out what sorts of comments would damage his career.)

pneuma08:

One thing people seem to misunderstand about the retail industry is that while used-car-salesman tactics may be lucrative in the short run, they are NOT sustainable. Being a big company isn't about turning a quick buck but remaining relevant and profitable over the next 10 years.

Now I'm not saying Gamestop is perfect; far from it. But a lot of the bad press it gets is blown out of proportion, conditional, or outright undeserved. If there are better alternatives, go to them. Let them drive Gamestop into the ground.

Dispute, in specific terms, the veracity of the charges I have leveled against the store then, if you think they're undeserved. As long as people are not particularly price-conscious and discerning, their tactics will work indefinitely. They've been doing the same stuff for years now and yet people continue to shop there. I can't explain it via anything but ignorance and laziness, and unfortunately the gaming marketplace has plenty of both. Little kids who aren't picky about prices cause mummy's picking up the bill, people buying gifts, and (my personal favorite, while I worked there) people who didn't have a bunch of money who genuinely believed they were getting a good deal by trading and buying used games. They thought they were being responsible trading in for credit, because they just had no business sense at all.

Let them reap their profits while they can, and I suspect it will be for a good long time. But don't think that just because practices are seedy to the intelligent mind that they're a "quick buck". They've been running the same scam for quite a while, with the same criticisms being leveraged, and they still evidently have people lining up out the door to work for them, take their laughable "trade" values, and hand over their money so that Gamestop can earn interest on it.

It's completely staggering.

Dom Camus:

Gunner 51:
I'll admit this article sounded like a recruitment advert for Gamestop.

Probably not the author's fault. I expect he had to ask approval from GameStop before submitting this piece. (And even if he didn't, I imagine he's smart enough to work out what sorts of comments would damage his career.)

Then why write the post at all? I mean, the headline could read: "Guy who can't say otherwise says he likes his job" That's not really much of a story.

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