105: Tabletop Gaming and the Hypnic Jerk

Tabletop Gaming and the Hypnic Jerk

"In the mid '90s, the CRPG snowball turned into an avalanche, which led some to wonder whatever happened to all those great game ideas they used to see in stores like Perfidium. After Blizzard struck it big, the name of the game became "Chase WoW," and so the videogame industry sent a hypnic jerk along the length of its ancestry, hoping something would twitch. And something did."

Russ Pitts explores the death and rebirth of the game store.

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I have to say the only place in my neck of the woods is one of those Perfidium style stores. You walk in and are completely ignored. If you have the fortitude to ask questions of the shop keep, you either get ignored or are grudgingly acknowledged after a few minutes... I hate going there.

The one thing I like about those 'Perfidium' style stores is that they don't bother me unless I need help. If I want help I'll ask and they'll help me, if I don't they leave me to look around. That's how a store should be. Sure, there are a few stores that have grumpy owners, but those are easy to avoid. But some stores have an actual policy: "You must greet the customer, you must have a happy disposition, you must ask if you can help them find something". I hate that - it's a corporate version of The Stepford Wives. If I needed their help I have the intelligence to ask them. If I want to talk to them I should be the one to make that decision - not them. If I don't say 'Hi' it means I want them to leave me the hell alone.

I'm tired of this meet and greet nonsense in stores. I just feel the whole "We know best how to direct the customer" is inherently disrespectful. In some stores I've been approached by four people before I've even reached the area of the store that I'm looking for - it's ridiculous. In some cases I've had to ask my wife to run interference for me so that I can look for what I want without being distracted. This happens often in Circuit City, but it's happened in game stores too.

Another thing that's annoying is that the 'meet and greet' policy is actually bad for business: if someone helps you find what you're looking for right away it curtails any browsing activities that might happen while you're searching for the product you want. The thing is, with this policy in place if you go looking for one thing you'll be likely to get it and nothing else. If you go in a store that doesn't have a 'meet and greet' policy, you'll probably end up with the item you came for and a few other things.

'Meet and greet' annoys customers like me and it cuts profits. It's a ridiculous and oppressive system that's completely unnecessary.

Talk about stereotyping!

Maybe it's just this way in the USA...

The stores I used to frequent were never like this. The shopkeeps were friendly on the whole, the stores cluttered but not dirty, and the players were friendly, if not welcoming.

The thing I really don't get about this article is this: what on Earth does it have to do with the woman in the picture laying in bed?

I've been to both, the Perfidium of now, and of then, and I definately prefer the more open feeling. Im my neck of the woods, the one gaming store is always alive in the evenings. Every evening, something's going on, and it's become part of my routine. It's the inviting atmosphere that brought me in, and it keeps me coming back time and time again.

Beery:
The thing I really don't get about this article is this: what on Earth does it have to do with the woman in the picture laying in bed?

I think it's because a hypnic jerk is (from the article): "When you first fall asleep, your body slows. The human brain, although an incredible machine, is also sometimes dumb. When it senses the slowing of your heart rate and breathing, it has to ask itself "have I died?" to which, without any evidence to the contrary, it can find no answer. So it sends a signal down the nervous system to see if you're dead. If you aren't, your muscles jerk, and the brain receives a positive, reassuring stimulus."

I read his point as being that it's a good metaphor for his feelings upon walking into another open and welcoming type game shop.

Cheeze_Pavilion:

Beery:
The thing I really don't get about this article is this: what on Earth does it have to do with the woman in the picture laying in bed?

I think it's because a hypnic jerk is (from the article): "When you first fall asleep, your body slows. The human brain, although an incredible machine, is also sometimes dumb. When it senses the slowing of your heart rate and breathing, it has to ask itself "have I died?" to which, without any evidence to the contrary, it can find no answer. So it sends a signal down the nervous system to see if you're dead. If you aren't, your muscles jerk, and the brain receives a positive, reassuring stimulus."

I read his point as being that it's a good metaphor for his feelings upon walking into another open and welcoming type game shop.

The image was taken from the metaphorical use of the hypnic jerk, but I intended it more as a metaphor for the industry than the feeling i get when walking into a game store. How the industry, fearing it may be dead, sends a runner back along its ancestry, looking for new ideas in the game store. But I like your interpretation, too. It is kind of how I feel when I need a game fix, and get into a great store like Forbidden Planet. Good stuff.

Beautiful article there, Russ.

There is a store much like this in my area.
Discordia games. They have the meet and greet set up entirely voluntarily, most of the workers do it because they wan't you to feel welcome, one does it simply out of habit from working at Wizards of the Coast.
The store is a wonderful, friendly and inviting enviorment if you play card games.
Unfortunately for table top games it's evolved into hunched obese children who have never kissed a girl that are verging on their 20s, and the men of old who are equally (if not more) as obese. The old playing with the new is a good sight, however these old men will start telling you a story about their halfling rogue they had 20 years ago, and not stop....EVER.
I some times wondered if that was what I was going to be. So I started dating. :P
Anyhow, it basically came down to anti-social children and older gentlemen obsessed with the past.

Then there is the worse of it all. The middle ground.
Men between 21 and 35 who game, only talk about their character with a ridiculous name and the never ending story that is their life, simply criticise everyne else and never have an open chair. They are quick to pick on new comers even at the cost of losing all their players. But the others stay simpy because they don't fit into the other groups, and this being their only group. They seek knowledge and new experience in gaming, but are too stuck up to seek other's input and advice, much less accept it when given.

It's not so much as we're all outsiders anymore, as a casual friendly gamer has very little space left with the shut-in, obseesors and flat-out assholes who play....
Even the workers who pretend to be friendly shoot down joining your game with some BS about them only wanting to devote their time to one game, even as you watch them join 3 that very same day.....

The gaming industry hasn't changed, it was us....

Beery:
The one thing I like about those 'Perfidium' style stores is that they don't bother me unless I need help. If I want help I'll ask and they'll help me, if I don't they leave me to look around. That's how a store should be.

... you must ask if you can help them find something". I'm tired of this meet and greet nonsense in stores. I just feel the whole "We know best how to direct the customer" is inherently disrespectful.

As an owner of a gaming store, I respectfully disagree with these sentiments. When a new customer comes into my store, I give them a moment to browse, then let them know if they have any questions, feel free to ask. If I don't at least try to talk to them it shows, from my side of the equation, that I don't care if you find something that interests you or not. It's not that I think the new person is unintelligent - it's that I respect that sometimes people want to find what they're looking for in as short of a time as possible.

Once the new customer starts settling in to the area of the store they feel comfortable in, then I can help show them related things they may not otherwise have been aware of. Is it a fine line between being helpful and being a nuissance? Yes, but it's a line I'd rather walk on than have the person feel as though they are intruding on my hallowed ground - How DARE they!

 

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