The Gamer’s Conscience 11.03.03

Geoffrey, you’ve let me down.

You and your whimsically long neck have let me down. Your image as a retail God, while once omnipotent in your grace, has now has almost brought me to the brink of insanity. Your temple has forsaken my wallet as well as any remnant of sane thought, as this previous week’s promotion in your pseudo-holy “R Zone” lured me into its hallowed halls once again. For a total of 1 hour, across one of your stores within comfortable freeway-aided driving distance, my resolve as a hardened cash-strapped student then dwindled into the wreckless abandon known to only a ravenous wage-earner with paycheck in hand.

Buy 2 Get 1 Free, baby. PS2 or X-Box. Sweet candy indeed.

See, Geoffrey, you know my poison. Offer me 3 fifty-dollar games for the price of only 2, and you’ve got me- hook, line, and sinker. Since video games are my only real vocation outside of listening to good metal and making an ass out of myself in public in the company of equally obnoxious friends, it’s great to know that you’re out there. You and that mega corporation that allies itself with continue to do me a service- a service for which I shall, from card-swipe to bank deposit, be indebted to you. When anybody, be it human or evolved equestrian, can offer me a substantial discount on my gaming habit, it is indeed a happy day. From your existence in the digital domain mentioned above, to your sometimes two-story temples of warehouse bliss, it’s you Geoffrey- you, that once a year facilitates my gaming habit.

And for that I thank you.

However, I take issue with those who you choose to staff your temple of temporary retail discount. The caliber of those from the proletariat you deem worthy to orchestrate every whim of my brick-and-mortar buying experience. You see, Jeff- if I can call you Jeff, in my recent pilgrimages to your temples I have come to question the competence of your clergy, the very pawns of your good deeds; dare I say it, the saints of the stockroom. It is these very same men and women of your fine retail establishment that are charged with making my experience a great and memorable one, if not for their own satisfaction of selling me my drug of choice then at least to create an atmosphere of hospitality and helpfulness that I would choose to return to in the future. It wasn’t always like this, Jeff. Let me tell you my story.

This past Wednesday, I finally decided that I would indeed take advantage of your offer. After some hard and painstaking deliberation, I decided on the following: Xenosaga: Episode 1 ($29.99), Panzer Dragoon Orta (also $29.99), and Kingdom Hearts ($19.99), with KH being the freebie. All of these games had been out for at least a year, but since I had waited so patiently, I’d be able to procure them from you, Jeff. That’s right: through the science of rounding upwards, 30+30+20(-20)=60 dollars total, bringing the average cost of the games at hand to 20 bones a piece. To think, Jeff, that I would be able to bring all three of these games home for 20 dollars off the combined price of 80 dollars would have been something great to behold. So with my newly formed plan in action, I decided that I would make the pilgrimage before the week was out. But just to be sure, I decided to give your retail clergy a ring- just to see if they had what I was looking for.

At first, the representative seemed quite knowledgeable about the contents of the temple. As before any heavy endeavor involving your kinsman, Jeff, I sort of tensed up while I awaiting a response:

Retail Worker of the Temple: Geoffrey’s Temple, can I help you?
Frederick Badlissi: Oh, divine spirit of gaming thrift and utmost cleanliness! If you find it so in your power, it is three games I seek from your-
RWoT: OK. Let me transfer you to the “R Zone.”
FB: Fair seraph, your guidance is appreciated!
RWot: Uh huh!

I was then put on hold, listening to A Whole New World as found on the Aladdin Soundtrack. Now I’m not one to mention this, Jeff, but might I suggest your musical picks be more pleasing to your buying public. I know you like good music too, but perhaps we are in agreement that the world isn’t ready to hear Good Riddance’s rendition of Kiss’ classic track I Stole Your Love. After one verse had passed, I was on my way to validate my claim:

RWoT: R Zone. How can I help you?
FB: Three games, kind monk. Xenosaga and Kingdom Hearts for the PS2, and Panzer Dragoon Orta for the X-Box.

After a tense 10 seconds, your monk had honestly bestowed the following:

RWoT: Kingdom Hearts isn’t in stock, but we’ve got both of the others! one copy of Panzer Dragoon to be exact. I can put it on hold for ya.
FB: You have done your Giraffe God proud, monk. Do place Panzer Dragoon on hold, and I shall procure it from the temple tomorrow! Please put it under the name “Fred.”
RWoT: OK, Fred. I’ll do that.

Alas, KH would not be my own, but would easily be replaced by a Greatest Hits title or Platinum Whatever one. But PDO and Xenosaga would be mine! Jeff, despite your omnipotence, you could not fathom the degree of happiness and zeal your monk had extended me when I learned that I would be getting PDO and Xenosaga in one fell swoop. Perhaps giraffes such as yourself experience such an ecstasy on par with getting down and dirty with other giraffes- this I can only speculate. But rest assured- the good deal that you offered me, and the lone copy of PDO your monk promised me were a boon I just couldn’t pass up. So as that Friday slowly faded into Saturday, I braved the traffic to enter your temple.

But that Saturday, Jeff, there would be no love in the temple. You let me down. No- rather specifically, your trained and royal order of monks let me down. For you see, as a faithful disciple of your teachings and offerings, I found nothing but lies and material entrapment. Observe!

FB: Kind non-secular liege! I have come to claim Xenosaga and Panzer Dragoon Orta as my own!
RWoT #1: What the hell did that guy just say??!?
FB: I called you yesterday and a fellow monk had set Panzer Dragoon Orta aside for me- t’was your last copy.
RWoT #2: Hmmm! I think he means he called yesterday to have us hold it. It should be here.

I’m tellin’ ya right now, Jeff. The air was thick. Damned thick- probably due to the little children running through the halls, or maybe the spoiled children of those who can’t appreciate the holy sanctity of your temple walls. These elements could not break my will. No- not the heathen brats. The only thing that could have broken that thick atmosphere was the fateful cry of the retail monks. Their collective utterance was as if death himself had condemned me to a fate worse than anything he could have done. This, dear Jeff, was where your monks had killed my faith:

RWoT: There’s no copies of Panzer Dragoon left. Sorry, holmes.

And with that first and final blow to all of that week’s expectations, I became silent. That, Jeff, is where I lost my faith. Your monks had spent the whole of 5 minutes checking their cabinets to find it, but to no avail. Sadly, I had to pay more than I thought I would have to, as Jak II and Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven brought the unexpected tab a little higher.

You see, amongst your vast propensity to run a spotless and fruitful organization, you failed to do the one thing that could have saved the day for myself and countless other patrons: keep the good titles that people will want stocked to meet demand. Had your monks stocked the R Zone adequately with the titles that were attractive to those in the congregation like myself, then all of this heartbreak could have been averted. Even while I was within the temple walls, I heard the query for Kingdom Hearts spoken twice! Across the county, in all of your temple locations this has probably occurred, with KH and PDO not the only titles in short supply. In cases like this, Jeff, you should have been on the ball.

So, Geoffrey the Giraffe, it was with a heavy heart that I exited your temple, and with a heavy heart that I compose this letter. Perhaps next year, when this paramount holiday makes its pre-Winter return, you will have the foresight to implement a better stocking procedure, or perhaps boost your orders to meet demand. For you see, Geoffrey (I feel so strongly now that I cannot call you Jeff), no one should enter your temple with expectations only to have them crushed upon exit. No one should go home without their Kingdom Hearts, Panzer Dragoon Orta, Viewtiful Joe or any other titles their hearts desire. Such an instance of this experience should be minimal; and with a little attentiveness on behalf of your clergy, such an instance can remain a thing of the past. I don’t like having my faith tested, Geoffrey- and I know you don’t like testing it.

So, in closing, let me just aid you with some simple words of advice, just so that myself and others like myself need not find ourselves in this situation again, bequeathed by Henry Ford. Just think of it in terms of game stock:

Before everything else, getting ready is the secret of success. That’s the Gamer’s Conscience.

And that’s it for what will probably be the most surreal edition of The Conscience for some time to come. Don’t skip out like Geoffrey did; the rest of the week at 411 is going to rock ass with all the news, reviews, and columns you’ve come to trust, trust, and dig, respectively. And as always, feedback is always appreciated.

Until the next time!