As of 1:28pm today, I was gainfully employed. I had been for almost nine years- all with GameStop. I had helped any myriad number of customers on a day-to-day basis. I had made friends, contacts, social connections, established commercial connections, and cross-promoted with the better of them. I had indoctrinated myself into the knowledge that over three thousand days spent with this company entitled me to say I – literally - made a living playing games.
By 1:31pm, my service was severed. I hope you noticed how diplomatic I’m being there. There’s a reason: I have no ill-will about this. It is so oppressively easy to claim victimization these days, and I- for one- want nothing to do with this. Whether it is a new marketing approach, downloadable content scheduled well before a game’s release, or a company’s endeavor to grasp straws at a growing digital market, it is far too easy to cry wolf. The issues I had encountered were that of complex policy, and making the wrong decisions on implementation.
That’s it. See that part where I take accountability for my own actions despite less-than-savory conditions? This isn’t some Goldman Sachs shenanigans.
I would further like to spend two minutes on this endearing love letter to my last employer: GameStop is not Beelzebub incarnate. Honestly, they are people trying to deal with a changing shaft of corporate demands that leave the retail operations bound from aptly aiding customers. The move to digital, game guarantees, the reservation process- they are all encumbrances on our shopping experience, but how much of that experience is based on an outdated shopping style?
The retailer hasn’t fawned over the foot-traffic in nearly two decades. Once the nineties kicked in, the old ways kicked out. Traditional palling around was replaced with bartering tactics and ‘open-ended engagement’. Conversational approaches from big box retailers were reduced to curt greetings, poured over a pile of informative directions- what would later sum up to be the most useful conversation you could have with the sales associate. Meanwhile, the folks who understood the concept of “people first; product later,” were relegated to any shops beginning with an ‘h’- namely, hobby, head, hair, and occasionally, hell.
The internet, instant messenger, and text messaging ruined our conversational strengths. As the consumer acclimated to two-sentence inquires, the retailer adjusted to one sentence replies. Then compounded Wikipedia cross-references. Then added in Amazon price-matching. Then added in Metacritic. Then, the retailer was replaced with a computer altogether.
Which brings me to the head of my argument: I am not emotionally distraught, because I could see where the wind is blowing. I am frustrated that I did not push back sooner, but I did not, so I have no right to claim fault for where things have come from- Only where I can guide them to. To look at things like “bad” game endings and expect that the industry is going to listen now, is as effective as crossing my fingers that my job can’t be replaced with a computer. Barging the storefronts in an angry mass will motivate the industry as much as a mammoth could trudge through tar.
Those that sell believe the buyers have gone weak. Not stupid, not ignorant, not even apathetic: that they have simply become too weak to push back. Pushing back with angry forums, self-entitled denial, or even burning a product you’ve already purchased is what would fall under the traditional banner of what angry and weak consumers do. You have bought what they’d offer, and if not, they’ll keep pummeling you with it until you crush under the weight of a thousand suns and buy.
The smart consumers organize. They can talk, coordinate, eloquently detail fine points of a brand’s successes, or, failures. They can do all of this to such a dry and fine point, that to not agree with them would be an insult to their own lifestyle. Money talks, I get it. This is what I challenge you to, consumers: remember that you talk too. Not whine; not scream; not calling yourself out as the victim. Talk. Use your brain to make that mouth useful for more than loud, Polynesian skypes at two in the morning (I’m talking to you, neighbors). Coordinate your efforts, create interest groups, and helm your complaints in a manner that will blindside this shopper-centric world.
Otherwise, you can’t complain about being a victim.