Recently, Teuthida posted in the TRI forums a tongue in cheek post about being a woman gamer in her local game store:
Are you a male employee at a game store? Do you find women who walk into your store scary? Are you simply revolted by the games they play, such as Unreal Tournament, World of Warcraft, and Evil Genius? Fear not! Here’s a list of ways you can deal with them to ensure they never enter your store again!
1.) Loudly assume that any game they buy is either a.) for their boyfriend (if they’re 20 or younger), b.) for their husband/son (if they’re old), or c.) for their brother (if they’re ugly and/or fat).
1a.) For bonus points, don’t say this to the girl in question; say it to another male employee. Examples: “Hey, another girl got roped into World of Warcraft by her boyfriend!” “Looks like somebody’s brother is having a birthday!”
2.) Wave off any concerns she has about store security. If she notices that her copy of World of Warcraft is open, just tell her that they’re ALL open, and not to worry about it.
3.) If they show knowledge of security issues such as copy protection or CD-keys, change the subject to the girliness of their handbags or jackets! Example: “We keep the CD-keys in the back room so you won’t just put the box in your little paisley purse and walk out with it.” This way, you accuse the girl of being a thief AND alert her to the fact that you’ve noticed her extremely feminine femaleness, which does NOT belong in your store!
4.) Regardless of who chose the game and who paid for the game, if there’s a man standing near her, attempt to hand the game to him once she pays for it. Bonus points if this man turns out to be a total stranger!
Congratulations! You’re well on your way to making your store a place where you can happily obstruct the “girl games” part of your store (containing such wussy games as “World of Warcraft”, “Age of Empires III”, and “Portal”) while you sit in the corner and eat pizza, and where girls will never bother you again!
We all had a good laugh, and several people (male and female) stood up for her decision to unabashedly never buy anything from this particular game store again.
Normally, I’d not give something like this a second thought, but recently Gamestop has released an instructional training video for their employees on how to talk to woman customers.
GameStop staffers were subjected to “Understanding And Selling To Our Expanded Audience” in advance of the “Sharpen The Mind, Shape The Body” campaign—which has since expired—the sales effort that would give buyers of Wii Fit or My Fitness Coach a free subscription to Cosmo or Good Housekeeping.
I actually sat through the video. It was… enlightening.
What did I learn from this?
- Games are for men! Women are a new “expanded audience”.
- All women are well dressed, carry purses, and don’t wear ratty t-shirts. (Looks at self, just having returned from workout. Uh. Right.)
- Games make women scared, and Game Stores affect them so much that they can’t understand normal speech, so you must affect a pretentious and condescending false friendliness in order to make them comfortable, and not rely on jargon such as “game” when introducing yourself.
- Obviously women buying video games will buy more if they get a “woman’s magazine” – especially if they are concerned about their (shh… weight or body type… shh – don’t say that out loud).
- Women who come into the store to buy one thing (hunters) can easily be turned into compulsive shoppers, spending more than they originally wanted (gatherers) and tricked into buying extra stuff, just by being friendly and trying to introduce them to “other things”.
Of course women aren’t interested in games because they’re fun or well made. They just want to read “ladies magazines” and play wii-fit to get all skinny for swimsuit season.
Nevermind that this plays into huge cultural stereotypes about female intelligence – they’re saying this target audience is women aged 25 to 54. I know some people in their 50’s that play WoW. Guess what? Their demographic is just as varied in likes, dislikes, abilities, skill, and devotion as any other group of people.
I’m a 25 year old woman who regularly goes into game stores dressed however I feel like dressing or happen to have been dressed that day (some days? jeans and a ratty t-shirt. others? professional businesswear). Why does my outfit make any difference?
For that matter, why does my GENDER make any difference?
Why should anyone hawk to me a promotion about buying a game like Wii-Fit or My Fitness Coach if I’m there to buy a second Warcraft box, or an advance copy of another game, a gift card, a poster, or possibly to pre-order Diablo III when that happens. What business is it for the seller of video games to pitch a promotion for a game console that I don’t own, just because I happen not to posses a Y chromosome?
Honestly? I can’t see any.
If I’m there wanting to buy Wii games… I’ll buy them – and I’m perfectly capable of reading promotional posters (I happen to find this particular promotion condescending, stereotypical, and awful, but if it’s a poster, I’m free to read it and ignore it). I don’t go into a game store for fitness advice – nor do I go into a game store to be a special cupcake and get offers on “ladies magazines” that I don’t read.
I go into a game store to buy games.
Just like every other person that plays games in this world – Male, Female, Young, Old, Human, or Martian. It’s 2009. Young women my age and older grew up around games, we know what they are, what we like, what we don’t. Not all of us want to play Mittens the Kitten’s Amazing Adventure, or Wii-Fit, or The Sims, or Unreal Tournament, or Counterstrike, or LotRO, or World of Warcraft, or whatever other games are out there.
Lose the BS approach, and treat customers like customers. Because you’ve lost one today.