Archive for February, 2007

Gamestop Employee

This is a post responding to our dear friend the Gamestop Employee. You can read his post here, and I’m not sure where the hell he is going to find sympothy but I do want to make sure that he feels that hassle he gets from Gamestop is nothin. I’m just going to go through his post point by point.

Pre-Orders

Everyone and their frickin mother knows how pre-orders works, just because we hate the employees harrassing us about pre-ordering shitty game #533 all the freaking time doesn’t mean we don’t know about the game and we don’t know about the pos pre-order “gift” they are throwing out. I mean seriously, Spider-Man 3 preorders? Do you really think anyone “doesn’t know what they are missing”? We are missing a shitty game, and we know it. You know what happens when there is a game we want? WE FUCKING CALL IN AND PRE-ORDER IT YA NEWB! How many people do you actually think are like “you know I thought spider-man 3 would be a crappy game, but now that you are giving me a poster, I think I’ll buy it because hell a poster for $50 is a deal!” Not a one person will ever come to this logic. It’s kind of ironic isn’t it, we complain about being harrassed about pre-ordering games we don’t want; you complain about being called all day about games we do want. Go figure. You know despite what you may think, we know what games we want, we know when they come out, we are full well aware we can pre-order and get a gift, and more importantly we don’t need you constantly telling us what we already know. Because well, we already know what we already know. Which brings us to….

Phone Calls

You are complaining basically here about doing your job. Did you honestly not realize when you worked at a game store that, surprise surprise people will actually call in to see if you have something in stock, and surprise surprise, usually when is least convenient for you (anything that can go wrong, will get used to it). In fact, I’m quite sure that most people who call have a webcam in your specific store and sit there and watch and wait until the very minute that you have 50 customers in store but only 1 employee. Sorry, it’s just what we do. Is it really a surprise that people call to see if you have a game in stock? Gamestop isn’t exactly a target here, they don’t have a ton of games and many gamers prefer to go to Gamestop, not because they have slightly more expensive titles or less games in stock than the competition, it’s more because we realize the shit we will be in if there are no more game specialty stores and Best Buy and Target become completely in control of distribution of games.

And guess, what people wanna know how much they can get for their used games without taking a trip. I mean seriously, do you really think that we want to drive all the way to your fricking store just to find out that you know what, you won’t even buy my copy of Spider Man 3 because you have 20 in stock now because guess what it’s a shitty game and you forced it onto a ton of people through preorders who now realize it to be a shitty game. It is your freaking job to answer the phone, do it, and be happy you have one cause many people don’t even get 7.15 an hour. Let alone that you get a freaking discount on games which as you know is the main reason anyone even works at Gamestop, so get over it. I worked at McDonald’s for 3 years, got paid I think at the most $5.65/hour and they don’t even give you a free $1 burger in a 12 hour shift, GET OVER YOURSELF. You think you are really drawing sympothy? Everyone has worked these jobs, and most have worked worse jobs than you… compared to McDonald’s you have a freaking dream job.

For the record, that person asking for the Wii Game, was likely asking for Wii Play. The fact that you don’t know this leads to a common problem that we have with gamestop and it’s employees in that you don’t know shit. I can tell you what game that person was talking about, I don’t need to harrass them about wanting it, and I don’t even work there where I get about 50 calls a day asking for that Wii Game. You know why they are asking for it? You know how hard it is to find a Wiimote? Seriously they pay you too much.

Injustice

Boo hoo, you don’t have shrink wrap machine or a TV. Why should I care? You realize that in every single job the corp won’t chip in for equipment that is vital to the job. My roommate is currently in a job that they won’t pay for pens, pencils, paper, or even a break room (at least you had a microwave at one time). And she works a desk job, so who cares about your “oh no my meal is cold” problem? You know how to fix that problem? Bring a sandwich! Your the idjut bringing hot meals even though you full well know that microwave don’t work!

You are whining that someone thought to open the UMD case of a PSP? How times do you actually see cases that aren’t supposed to come of a disc in the real world? Do DVD’s have a case? No. Do CD’s have a case? No. Do Games have a case? No. So why should this game have a case? <shrug> It was stupid of Sony to do, surely, but ya must see it coming from someone who had never heard of such a thing before. And about the difficulty in opening said UMD case? I’m sure it was difficult, but have ya not opened any commercial product in the last 10 years? I am sure the woman was sitting there complaining about how difficult they make things to open these days the entire time. I once had a CompUSA clerk complain to me that customers usually mangle the packaging… really what are they supposed to do? The things are freaking so glued together that I’ve broken scissors before trying to open the damn packages! How can you be so surprised that it if someone thinks it is a package that they might not be amazed or surprised that it is difficult to open? It is standard in this day and age!

Solution?

I didn’t notice a solution, I’m sure corporate gets plenty of phone calls too, and wouldn’t ya hate to have that person’s job as they are likely making only slightly more than you and all they do all day is deal with pissed off customers. Throughout the article, you imply that your job depends on those pre-orders, yet you never really say how or why? Do they fire you if you don’t meet a pre-order quota? Do you think gamestop will close your store if they don’t fill a quota? In both these cases, why would you even care? There are plenty of $7 an hour jobs in the sea, go find a different one! (BTW, since you seem so shocked by this job’s crappiness, let me share with you that they are all quite crappy just so you won’t be as disappointed with your next job). Or is it that you get a commission for the pre-order and the only way you can pay rent is by getting those commissions? (I doubt this is the case as you would have likely said it, it certainly could help sympothy out here!)

I’m not entirely sure what the point of your post even was. You think that people who are asking the stupid questions and hate the corp don’t know how shitty a clerk job is? Most of us work there at some point, it is a way of rights of sorts that everyone has to do the shitty jobs in order to get good ones. Your solution to make someone else’s job even worse isn’t helping because seriously how does that solve anything? What makes YOU more different than the guy answering the phone? That you are you? Am I supposed to be impressed with that? I actually feel more sorry for that guy than you because he probably feels more stuck because he is making slightly more and the slightly more jobs are more difficult to come by even if they are just as shitty. I do find it interesting that you leave out the discount on games entirely, as you surely are a gamer, and most gamers realize that is why you even work there so we realize this is the true perk of that job which really sets it apart from a job that would pay $8.50/an hour. Because we realize, you take full advantage by not only getting games before everyone else (and we fully realize it happens despite corporate policy), but by getting friends this discount too. Hell I worked at Nike for 2 yeras at $7.50/hour (a price I actually thought was really high for a clerk job and actually was the highest salary of any standard clerk in the entire mall, and the only discount I got was on sports shoes which I wouldn’t be caught dead in). Heck someone like me who doesn’t like the Corp will tell you that you are to blame for people complaining to you. You may not give a shit anymore about the company than me, but you chose to work there, and ethics should dictate your choices, which means on some level you do like company and you are every bit a part of it as those rule makers. If employees wouldn’t work there, then they wouldn’t have a business to run, and they may be forced to change not only how they treat customers, but how they treat employees and then everyone would win wouldn’t they?

But no, instead you write a pointless post which notes that you don’t know anything about games so I really think that you have a junior high education and probably should quit your job because someone who actually plays games deserves your job more than you. And yes it also makes me think that those execs who do nothing are just deserved their millions in salaries if a moron like you earns $7.50 an hour and doesn’t even understand the concepts of your own job.

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New fan & Domain

Well I finally got my fan, installed it, and now my computer seems to be running back at normal. I think the computer is getting hotter than it was when the water cooler was actually working, but hopefully this will work and it only needs to really work for games for another few months. After that I doubt my roommate will ever put a game in the system.

Over the weekend I registered about 4 or 5 domains. 1 was for my real name (which I won’t disclose here at this point), 2 are for a possible business name (which I also won’t be disclosing) and one is for this site. I also payed the money to get the domain to point towards wordpress so now if you want to go to this site, you just have to go to http://www.razakius.com and you will come here. It isn’t a huge deal but I thought it’d be nice to have one form of my online name registered.

Travel 1-20

I’ve been thinking about travel a lot lately and have been thinking of making a list of 100 places I’d like to go (or things I’d like to do, they are often combined) in my life. So what I wanted to do was present these places here, but instead of posting all of them, I am going to list them in chunks of 20. They won’t be ranked in any way, the numbering will be done mostly so I can keep track of how many I have. So the #1 is not my most wanted to travel place, just the one I likely thought of first. (which may have its own psychological connotations.)

Note that the point of these is to make them at least somewhat realistic. This isn’t a pipe dream list, it is a list of places that I think I could conceivably go to at some point in my life. Also keep in mind that many of these are natural places more than anything else as that is something that interests me.

  1. African Savannah (no specific part of it, as long as I get to see it).
  2. Amazon Rainforest
  3. Disney World (I’ve already been there once, but I’d like to go again another time, now that I’m older and without my mother).
  4. Norway (return to the homeland)
  5. Egypt (I have a huge facination with Egyptian history)
  6. Venise (would like to see it before it sinks)
  7. Hawaiin Black Sand Beaches (something cool about a black sand beach)
  8. Australian Coral Reef
  9. Tokyo (Preferably during the Tokyo Game Show)
  10. London
  11. The Ocean (I realize a few of my other picks would fulfill this one, however I have never seen the ocean despite the fact that I have been to Florida, and I would like to see it at least once).
  12. New York, NY
  13. Galapogos Island
  14. New Zealand
  15. Tazmania
  16. South Africa
  17. Philly (I’d like to go eat a real Philly Cheesesteak at some point)
  18. Buffalo, NY (same as above, just for Buffalo Wings)
  19. Beijing (The Forbidden City)
  20. Game Developer Conference

So there is my first 20. A lot of them are quite traditional, although I think a few are a little different.

New Fan

Well my new fan didn’t get here yesterday, not that I thought it really would but I hoped. So I don’t expect to have my computer back up in operation until at least by Monday evening, maybe even Tuesday. So until that point I am essentially forced into turning it on for 5 minutes at a time.

While this has all been happening, I started to wonder what I should get for my NEW computer this month. I think with these problems draining me of a good $60 for new fans on the old computer, I can’t put a ton of money into the new one, so I think that either leaves me with cabling or a hard drive. The positive about going for the hard drive is that things really aren’t gonna change that much in the next few months in the tech, probably won’t even go down in price much. However, because I have no SATA on my current computer, who knows if it will actually be testable on this computer and they could send me a dud which I wouldn’t even find out for 4 months and thus, would be unable to return it. That would totally suck. Maybe I should get a big fan and some cabling then, this stuff will be good both now and in 4 months.

Computer Acting Up

Ok my piece of crap water cooling system after months of malfunctioning I believe has finally broke. I am making this post during one of the few moments of the day that I am giving myself to do computer stuff before my computer overheats. I have already replaced the cooling mechanism on the video card, but was unable to change over the CPU because CompUSA did not carry CPU coolers for my rather old processor. I ordered a new one of newegg last night so hopefully that’ll make it by the weekend, but I’m not counting on it. Hopefully by taking the water cooling off the video card my computer won’t overheat quite as fast and will allow me to be able to get on to do maintenance and some minor homeworks.

My plan of attack right now (since I have a 3 page paper due in class on Friday) is to write the paper by hand and then use my few minutes to quickly type it in and print it, saving many many times along the way. Otherwise, the process of going to school library to do it would be both distracting, and difficult, forcing me to email the paper home to print on at home.

Anyway, kind of sucks to have to do this just before I am going to be getting a brand new computer anyway.

Weekly Response #3

In the second half of his book, James Paul Gee goes through the learning experience of a player playing a new game. He indicates how games in general use increasing difficulty and in-game tutorial systems in order to teach the player how to play, and give the player early successes. I wanted to use this section of his book and compare what Gee considered a good learning process for a game to World of Warcraft’s learning process.

Now, among MMO games, World of Warcraft has a reputation for being very new player friendly and having one of the better tutorial experiences. In fact it does follow Gee’s formula pretty well. However, one of the first differences that a new player will find that other people in this class have noticed is that players are not given a quest upon logging in the first time the way that players are with Von Croy’s teaching in Lara Craft. Instead, players are facing a number of non-player characters (NPCs) with shining exclamation marks over their heads and the player is expected to go interact with these NPCs to get the initial quests. If a player has difficulty with this, the player is also given a number of tool tips, which tell the player how to interact with the screen, how to enter combat and use skills, and even what the exclamation marks mean. Continue reading ‘Weekly Response #3’

Responsibility of Game Developers

One of my professors, Kurt Squire, started his class by relating a story that he had about a game that he played often back in the 80s. The game was Sid Meier’s Pirates. His story was that he played the game so often that when he got to this section of history class in his school, he didn’t quite understand why it seemed that he knew all about the history of pirates in the carribean and few others in his class did. Now I’m sure this little tale was a little bit of an exaturation. I am sure he full well knew that he knew this stuff because of the game, but it is still a very unique story on how we do learn from games, whether we mean to or not.

He used this as a way to start his course on learning in games. The premise seems to mostly be about how to teach in games. Mainly, how can we create a better learning environment for students through games. Now, I’d like to say I’m not entirely caring about the games for learning initiative. It is interesting, but it is not for me. I’d rather just play games for fun, that’s just me. However, this example that Squire put forward did give me some thought as to what is the responsibility of the game developers for honesty in games?

This seems like an irrelevant question, but it has serious ramifications. What if Meier decided not to research the history of the Carribean during the time frame that he wanted his game to be in and just made up everything in the name of being “fun.” Poor Mr. Squire would have walked into that class with all sorts of wrong information on the Carribean due to his playing that game, and what worse is he might have thought that the information was so correct that he may have even argued with the professor over the validity of the game. Thankfully, Meier did his homework and the game is fairly accurate, though likely not without its inconsistancies (by this article i do not intend that people be 100% correct, even historians debate certain points on history).

Even though I have little interest in learning through games, I do fully admit that games offer a deep sense of learning whether intentional or not. The sad fact is, is that through every piece of art, be they painting, literature, or film. People learn things. And people take these things that they learn as literal truths. How much do you think that William Shakespeare has changed the shape of the way people think of Anthony & Cleopatra due to a play, and one that was likely only loosely based on reality (like all Shakespeare’s plays were, he knew of historical events, but wasn’t worried about being accurate….. still to this day, many people think his historic plays are historically accurate).

This fact offers us, as the developers, a lot of power. And as we know from Spider-Man, with great power comes great responsibility. So what is this responsibility we have? Do we have a responsibility to be accurate about our games? Do we have a responsibility to have a real disclaimer to warn consumers if we are not? Or at the very least do we have a responsibility to be accurate in historical games that give the user a sense of being a historical game?

I am sure many in the industry would say that in fact, we do not have this responsibility. Many would even say that if Shakespeare wasn’t worried about it, why should they. And they do have a point to a certain degree. On the other hand, perhaps Shakespeare had this same responsibility and failed to live up to it. The cost of this was many misinformed people, moreso of that day than today, but many of the myths that he created still persist. Do not forget, that in Shakespeare’s time, most everyone was illiterate and thus the main sources of education to those people came from the church and plays. If you think about it, this isn’t entirely off from where things are today. As kids pay less and less attention in class, they turn to television and video games more and more for their education. As a child of the 80s, I can with all honesty say that yes, my education was formed probably just as much by television as it was by school.

This is not to say that we should take this all the way. I don’t think that Super Mario Bros. is in need of a disclaimer warning that not everything that occurs in it is true. There are some games in which are so blatantly fictional that this is not a problem.  But what about a game like Grand Theft Auto, a game which is incredibly fictional but is close enough to the truth that a person could very easily think this is how things operate in some parts of the world and decides that it is ok to DO these things. Now this is not to say that even this always works. There will always be people who believe everything they see. I am sure there are people who think that there is a plumber out there named Mario who saves princesses by jumping on mushrooms and that this isn’t abnormal for a plumber’s job. However, this is true in every industry. There are actually people who think that “The Young & The Restless” is a documentary about real people.

So what can we do in the industry if we are making a game that is close to reality? First of all, we need to research what we make. I know many designers actually do, Will Wright for instance is known for reading books to get his inspiration on games (those factual types of books, not those fictional ones). So we should read books on the subject that we are making games on. If you are making a game that is based on recent history, like one of the many WW2 games coming out, try to talk to someone who lived in the battle you are trying to duplicate. Hell if you are making the next GTA, talk to a frickin gang member for a change if you have to. But research, and if you know something isn’t right, make sure you inform the consumer that what you are creating isn’t entirely factual. And not in the EULA which I’m sure has all that in it, but an actual disclaimer that the consumer has a chance at reading.