Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Fear and Loathing ... in my store

To follow up on what I said yesterday, I've noticed muggle customers are often uncomfortable in the store. It's well lit, with wide aisles, good signage, appropriate odor, and friendly staff, but the subject matter can be intimidating.

The game center can be a place of wonder when you learn that there's a little community center in the back of the store. I had an older customer look on as people played, exclaiming, "I'll be damned." For the uninitiated, however, it can seem like a scary den of pedophilia! This is now a culture in which parents don't allow their children to visit other children's homes, so the idea of a public space that's not state sponsored is threatening. "What do they do back there???"

Most latch onto the familiar, usually what frightens them most. With a quarter of the store dedicated to miniature games, with signs for Flames of War and Warhammer, they often latch onto the theme of war. "Oh, you sell war games," they say, as if I'm a lackey of the Bush administration. I'm one of those people who believe that play is a gateway to understanding, rather than a gateway to deviancy. If you play war games, you learn there are high costs to war, and hopefully you're a little less likely endorse it. People who have no concept of these things are more likely to jump in, aka chickenhawks.

Others will fixate on Dungeons & Dragons, although it's not fashionable to appear to be a religious reactionary, so most of those concerns aren't voiced. It's usually another family member that has a problem with those games. I'll tell cautious parents, "You know what happens with kids who play Dungeons & Dragons?" I'll let their eyes get big for a moment and then continue, "They go to college." I love the fact that the Israeli military considers D&D players to be a security threat. They found their minds have been conditioned to more easily accept new ideas, and are "more easily susceptible to external factors". One article describes it as a "Do ask, don't tell" policy, in which you should deny your D&D playing unless you want a low security clearance and a trip to the psychiatrist.

Others muggles will latch onto the collectible element, focusing on card games and miniatures. Of all the arguments against games, this one is most valid in my mind. There's a gambling aspect to collectible games that I don't care for. That they're aimed at children too young to understand is a bit disconcerting.

The only solution I know of for fear and loathing is familiarity and kindness. If they can get around their preconceptions and I can get around my own irritation and annoyance, we can have interesting conversations. I've wondered if perhaps I should bring my coffee maker out to the sales floor and offer cookies and coffee. How suspicious would that look?


  1. "You know what happens with kids who play Dungeons & Dragons?" ... "They go to college."

    you forgot to add the part where a good lot of them come back from college as weirdos who only communicate with other DND players and that they have a hard time dealing with the fact that things don't work out the way they want or expect them to work. lol...

    then again thats true for most everyone... except for inanimate carbon rods... dang those rods and their inanimate carbony ways...

    ...actually if you want you can pay me to wander the store as an example of what happens to children who don't get immersed in the neato myriad of stuff available at your store...

    "Hi I'm Frank... I didn't play dungeons and dragons until my suppossed adult life and now i'm a creature thirsting for some sort of social activity that is both cerebral and jovial... woooooo!"

    I'll even forget to bathe or change my underwear for free.

  2. "I've wondered if perhaps I should bring my coffee maker out to the sales floor and offer cookies and coffee."

    This is of course genius Gary. Every day in December you should do this.
    I assume December is treating you well, since your post volume has decreased slightly. Hopefully not because of hangover from your Thanksgiving cold...

  3. I posted less often when I was sick after Thanksgiving. There's also a big lull during that time, so I didn't have much to say (imagine that).

    I expect to post less often after for the rest of December. If past sales are any indication, my holiday sales season should begin tomorrow and last through at least the first week of January.