HoP Idol II: Memoirs of a Game Store Staffer

Woo,  I’ve survived another day and am pleased to bring you the next contender in this week’s challenge- Gartenzing of “Gaming All Areas.”  This week he’ll be posting his own version of the always famous “Musings…” post from the perspective of not THE (WO)MAN, but rather the humble drone at the game store.  Enjoy….

Memoirs of a Game Store Staffer

Hi all. Well, for this week’s challenge in the HoP Idol contest, I’m using the regular “Musings of a
Game Store Owner” as inspiration. Now, I’ve never owned a game store, but I have worked in a
few over the years (Independents, as well as various Games Workshops) so here’s a Top 10 of my
memorable moments serving hobbyists…

Since I got to pick the pic, I decided on something every British writer could identify with- a David Letterman reference- suck it Jools Holland

10). Let us start with the fact that each day, every day I got paid, was spent doing the hobby. I was
reading, writing, painting, playing- and getting cash in my bank account at the end of each week
(with a good chance that the store would see the greater portion of it.) This was a bit of a double
edged sword though- when your hobby becomes your job, you need to find a new hobby. I tried
handing out “Ideal Home” magazines to Big Issue vendors for a while, but in the end turned to
Paintballing…. anyway, those were good days. Now moving on to specifics…

9). When you work in a games store, you need to run events. Not just table-top, but whatever is on-
the job of a good staff member is to keep people enthusiastic so that they enjoy themselves. Bear
in mind that it doesn’t matter what the system is- you need to find the enthusiasm. Sometimes, it
works the other way around (unless it’s a Tragic: the Saddening event) as I experienced during a Star
wars RPG campaign. I’m not a fan of the current Star wars RPG, but when the players come up with
a no-Jedi rule, except for the Ewok character, you know you are on to a winner. The best bit- his
Destiny was to find Boba Fett’s helmet (for what nefarious purpose, we were never sure.)

8). Recruiting new players to the hobby is always a special moment- seeing their first newly-built
models, or teaching new painting techniques. Of course sometimes it goes horribly wrong- letting
people build their own figures has its own dangers. A personal favourite was an army that had us
stumped for weeks- it had a general feel of wrongness. Dan had been building his Space marine
army for a little while, and when he started coming in to play, we couldn’t figure out why they didn’t
look right. The parts were all in the right place, they’d all been cleaned up properly, they’d been
posed correctly- it was only when he painted them that we realised the torso’s on all of the Marines
were upside down. And lo- the Turtle Marine was born

7). One of the most common customers that I had the pleasure of as a staffer were “Yummy
Mummies.” They always helped brighten a slow day. Especially when we had products like
Gorkamorka, and its expansion, Digganob (“You’d like a bigger what, sorry?”)

6). Of course not all of the customers are welcome. There were always the groups wanting to poke
fun at the Geeks. It’s a good staffers job to deal with them, to look after the actual, proper human
beings (sorry, customers) in the store. It’s like a comedian dealing with hecklers, and I had the
pleasure of working with a true master of the art at one point. When a crowd of, for want of a better
term, fucktards came in and started making the assertion that hobbyists universally enjoyed same-
sex relationships, he pointed out they THEY were wearing “Man United” shirts, and were going to
see a game at the “Man Arena”, where two groups of grown men would, at regular intervals, kiss
and hug each other to the applause of the crowd.

5). This is actually one from an old colleague, which rang a few bells. Every now and again, I was
forced to deal with thieves, or the results of thievery. This was his experience:

“…I was in the shop on my own while the manager was off/doing something else (I think I was doing
Thursdays for him for a few months so that he had a day off or something) and a girl/young woman
took a role-play book off the shelf and came up to the counter asking for a refund. She said ‘the other
guy’ had said it would be alright so I phoned him (the manager) and he told me to lock her in the
shop. I tried to do this but she pushed her way out and I wasn’t sure of my legal position so didn’t
try too hard to stop her but I had the book at this point. Then the manager turned up and called the
police to let them know that someone was around trying it on….”

Awesome.

4). Thinking again of events, staffers learn quickly that disaster is around every corner. Especially if
you do your job right. This is never more true than when DM’ing RPG games. During a long-running
Warhammer Fantasy Role-play campaign (third, not the current board game “RPG”) I’d manage to
instil the players with a healthy dose of fear and paranoia in the game. Of course, when the whole
campaign hinged on a meeting with an underworld gang boss, it didn’t help when fear and paranoia
led them too dismembering him, placing him in a barrel with just his head sticking out of the top and
then setting the warehouse to explode…. they never did find out who the main protagonist was….

3). The eternal challenge, of course, is dealing with people who insist on gaming on the cheap.
Not on a budget- just on the cheap. Like Rodger. Now, here was a pleasant young chap, incredibly
enthusiastic, and he spent a crap-ton of money in the store each month. Where was he heap? Glue.
He wouldn’t buy glue. This resulted in his army being stuck together with Blu-Tac. This, of course,
led to house rule stating that any model whose parts fell off during a game being declared dead, and
the “Rulebook Round”, where players could slam the rulebook into the table as hard as possible at
the start of each of their turns.

2). There is a daily challenge to every staffer’s ego- the store. People don’t come to a game store for
the staff- they come for the shinnies’ on the shelf and the pretty models on the table. To combat
this, we would make themed tables for each themed release. The first time we did this was for 3 rd Ed
40K City Fight- an ambitious project, which we stayed up all night for. Of course, staying up all night
meant that we would need lots of supplies- PVA, foam board, MDF, tools, Egg-box cartons, straws,
beer. We spent hours mixing them all together into a true work of art for the gamers the next day.
Really. It looked exactly like 4’ of board covered in a massive heap of shit- easily would have won a
Turner Prize nomination!

1) Outside of the day-to-day life in a game store, is the rare occasion when the staff needs to go to
an event. Most of the work is pretty similar, especially with GW- it’s just a different venue in which
to practice being a Prostitute (at least in the sense that you smile convincingly at strangers while
fucking them out of their money.) However, it’s the journey that makes it special. My strongest
memory is of travelling from Reading to Bristol. We left Reading at 6pm, after dropping off the stall
at the relevant spots, and proceeded to follow the Satellite Navigation back to the M4. Of course,
on the outskirts of Reading, the TomTom died, and as the driver I faced with the option of a) left
or b) right. I opened it to a vote of the other 2 people in the van, as I turned off the TomTom and
activated what swiftly came to be known as Twatellite Navigation (TwatNav for short). The steady
stream of instructions from this marvellous technology resulted in us making it to the Newbury
Bypass, 45 minutes away from Reading and 90 miles from our intended destination, in the short

short time of 3 hours…. No, I haven’t forgiven either of them!

Well, it’s been a fun trip down memory lane for me. Just please, do your local shop staff a solid, and
next time you go in, buy them a coffee and a sarnie- they deserve it, the poor sods!

Comments, as always, are welcome…

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