Welcome to another edition of Paula’s Games Ramblings; you can find the previous ramblings here.
December is a busy time for everyone with the run-up to Christmas Day. Parents are helping Father Christmas choose the right gifts for their children. Grandparents are wondering what latest gadget to buy for their grandchildren.
Working For a Living
In the late 1990s and into the 2000s, I worked in a large video game store. Anyone from the UK will recognise the name GAME. For American readers, GAME was formerly called Electronics Boutique or EB Games.
I’d started with the company as a temporary Christmas Sales Assistant. After that, I was kept on as a full-time sales assistant after Christmas and finally worked my way up to management.
Lead-up to Christmas
The working hours were long in the lead-up to Christmas, and we didn’t have a day off for the whole month of December before the big day. So starting as Christmas temporary staff was like a baptism of fire in a bustling store.
Since it was the ’90s, we were selling the top consoles and games of the day. So there was the first PlayStation, Nintendo’s N64 and the Dreamcast. Then a few years later, it all changed, and it was the next-gen consoles we were selling, such as PlayStation 2, Gamecube, and so on. With the store all decorated for Christmas and the staff wearing Christmas hats, it was fun to be working in that environment.
We used to have all sorts of folk come into the store looking for that perfect gaming gift, from non-gaming parents who didn’t know what they were buying to Grannies looking to buy the latest blockbuster video game or console for wee Jimmy.
I could always spot a customer that had never set foot in a video game store; there was a wide-eyed look from them as if they had been chased into a cave by a monster.
As sales assistants, it was our job to describe what each console or game did to unknowledgeable parents. Some of the questions I was asked were amazing; most non-gamers didn’t have a clue about what they were buying. In addition, we were trained to sell add on’s, like memory cards; remember those? And additional controllers, strategy guides and gaming accessories.
The lead-up to Christmas was always hectic; the store was packed daily with eager shoppers. On days of big new releases such as Grand Theft Auto, we held special midnight openings until 2 am so that customers could collect their preorders.
Grand Theft Auto is an 18-rated game in the UK, but that didn’t stop young kids from wanting to buy it. Unfortunately I had to disappoint many a young one who was just tall enough that I could see them over the counter by saying sorry, I can’t sell you that game as you are underage.
During Christmas week, the store got so busy we had to close the door and stop people coming in for health and safety reasons. So instead, we had to allow a few people in at a time as some customers left.
When 6 pm came we would be glad to close the store. The last few reluctant shoppers were ushered out of the door. The cash registers were counted and tallied. When the staff had tidied the store, it was time to lock up and go home for the night. It was great fun in those days. I have always enjoyed working with the public. But especially when it incorporated video games, which have always been a big part of my life!