Around Thanksgiving time, these annual customers call endlessly looking for games that I've never heard of, often games that can only be bought online from a single-product company unable to be picked up by the trade. Worse, the games recommended, if I've heard of them, are usually inferior to the ones I've got. We're not just talking about mass market schlock like Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit (is that even a game?), but obscure specialty titles that inexplicably make it on their list. Maybe they were sent free copies? Lately, pirate games especially tend to be bought for their pretty pieces, with no thought to their game play.
I've got a gift guide handout in the store from a newspaper from 2004 (you should read this). People will often comment how it's a bit out of date, but it's not like Carcassonne or Settlers of Catan have suddenly gone out of style. I work in specialty games because things move a bit slower, although not as slow as some think.
I've found that many of these annual customers are simply shopping off these special magazine lists because they feel safe. They won't take my word for it. Who am I? Some guy who works at a game store? What could I possibly know about games? I'm probably trying to sell them my overstock, right? Then again, I've got customers who send their relatives down with instructions of "Ask Gary, he knows what I like." Somewhere in the middle there should be a solid list of good games.
Some good game gift guides to hand relatives and friends:
- Critical Gamer's Holiday Gift Guide (2006)
- The 2004 Good Gift Games Guide
- The 2006 Good Gift Games Guide (2004 is a better list, but this is good too)
- Board Game Gift Guide (from boardgamegeek.com) Note that despite what the articles says, some of these are unavailable (but at least worthy of desire)
- Slashdot Guide (mostly amusing arguments)
And finally, as your game store guy, for the love of god, if you shop at a game store throughout the year, please, please, tell your family and friends to buy your gifts at your game store. This minor point tends to elude some of my younger customers. We offer shopping lists towards the holidays with our address (and a map) so they can hand them directly to their gift giving loved one. We also offer club points for gifts bought in their name.