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When working in retail there is one time of year you dread above all others: the holidays. It means angry customers with no time and no money, pissed off that they have to brave ice covered roads and bumper car parking lots instead of being gleeful and warm in the comfort of their own homes. In video game retail land, there is one other time that I have come to regard in the same way I would a diagnosis of colon cancer: EA Sports Game Release season. Also called, the Unholidays, with a long e sound on that i.

During this time, Electronic Arts decides to rain shit from the sky in the form of a new NCAA everything, new Madden, new baseball whatever, and [shudder] Nascar 09. I would rather play most of these sports over having to deal with the people who come in to buy these games and that, my friends, should tell you something. The day my chubby ass wills itself to throw a football or (God forbid) run bases over doing something video game related is tantamount to Jesus Christ donning a pair of rabbit ears and chilling in Hugh Heffner’s vagina-shaped hot tub for an evening. What I am saying is, the event is nigh impossible…mostly due to Hugh Heffner not owning a vagina-shaped hot tub. Nonetheless, here I am, wanting to play sports.

There are three people who buy EA sports games. First, you have the casual gamers. These are the people who were not aware when the new batch of EA spores were released into the wild and happen to spot Cricket 2009 at Walmart and decide to snag it. I will never have to deal with these people because they are normal. The second set of people are the ones who still ask themselves how their lives could have been different if only they had [insert heroic sports act not accomplished in high school here]. They have fantasy football teams and towels with their favorite team’s logo emblazoned upon them. They wear hats and shoes and sunglasses endorsed by whoever is popular in their game of choice. They play city league softball and slap a teammate’s supple bottom after he hits a home run. Lastly, they never go into video game stores because they don’t play video games, they play Madden.

However, there is that one day a year when they have to go into a video game store because the new version of the one game they play is released. These people know the day and time that game comes out and they don’t have the brains to figure out that Walmart, Best Buy, and everywhere else will carry it as well. In their minds, my video game store is the sole outlet from which to buy their game because that is how they have gotten their new sports games since time immemorial. This is usually how the transaction goes:

Sports goober: “I called the other day and they said your UPS shipment usually gets here by now so where are the copies of Madden 2009?”

Me: “Hmm…”

Sports Goober: [Beads of sweat accumulating on his brow due to my unsure utterance] “You were supposed to get 12 copies.”

Me: “Yeah, we have them. What system do you want it for?”

Sports Goober: “Huh…oh Playstation 3. I heard that the graphics are so good on this one that you can see the dimple’s on [insert football player’s name here] ass. It is sooo amazing that they improved the passing engine and that the playbooks have changed this year. And I can unlock the Baltimore Ravens’ jerseys that they wore when they played and killed that poor Japanese high school football team in the off-season. Have you tried it out yet? You should have it on one of your TVs.”

Me: “Sorry, football isn’t my thing and I refuse to give money to a company that could release all of the game’s new changes and player stats via online downloadable content but instead, choose to screw people out of $60 each year.”

Sports Goober: [feelings hurt] “Oh…well…you should try it out sometime. It’s pretty fun. And you get to see hot football players in tight outfits.”

Me: “Uhh…yeah…will do.”

Okay, maybe I exaggerated the homosexual tendencies of these guys but there is something that is just…strange about them. This is a type of idolization I cannot for the life of me understand. A person who likes someone who has only been encountered running up and down a field on TV as much as he does his significant other… that is just creepy.

Lastly, we have the Nascar 09 enthusiasts. We have all seen these people. These are the scragily, Cletus-looking types, who have the big poofy jackets that say stuff like, “Dale Earnhardt: We will never forget.” I have been inundated with these people all week long. I am not sure what to say about this other than I am not sure how people can watch cars go in big circles several hundred times, let alone play a video game in which you drive a car in a big circle several hundred times. If I wanted to do that, I would just play Penn and Teller’s Desert Bus; at least I know it will be a pointless waste of time before I start. Understanding what these hicks are saying is probably more difficult than playing the game itself.

The one positive thing that can be said about Christmas time is that at least Santa (the non-pedophile one) gives out good video games to the girls and boys. It almost makes me look forward to working retail in December. But since we are only just passed the halfway point to that wintry dream land, I stand here, mildly creeped out by the armchair jocks and the incomprehensible hicks that crawl out of the woodwork to get their hit of EA’s annual installment of molten poop that is, unfortunately, stocked behind the counter.


  1. Christian said on June 16, 2008:

    The clerks at my Blockbuster asked if I wanted to reserve Madden. Already. Everyone wants to reserve the damn game.

    I pointed out that Madden is the one game on the planet that needs no preorder, and the cute gamer clerk mentioned how she liked Call of Duty 4 better.

    I will return there again.

  2. James said on June 17, 2008:

    I worked at a toy store during the holidays back during the height of Beanie Baby fever. needless to say I would take an uninterrupted decade of Madden Release Season before one more hour of that bullshit.

  3. TrueTallus said on June 20, 2008:

    Are there actually a sizable number of people paying real money for NASCAR ’09, Tyson, or is it the fact that there is anyone at all interested enough to come in on launch day that freaks you out? As for the sports jock types, at least they sound informed. My retail experience wasn’t as specifically games related as yours, but it sure seems like people who know what they’re in for are a step up from customers trying impatiently to locate a copy of “that game with the horses and stuff” :)

  4. Vaxadrin said on June 20, 2008:

    You’re not “that guy” are you? You know, the one at Gamestop that always try to convince me what I’m buying is a shitty game? Please don’t be that guy.

  5. Tyson said on June 21, 2008:

    No, I am not that guy. I don’t give a rat’s ass what people buy, I just find some of their purchases funny. I would never stop anyone from buying anything from me, my store really needs the cash.

    And TrueTallus, the people that I deal with usually know what games they want/need and are fairly good about giving me exact names. The only ones that come in looking for games “with horses and stuff” are the parents that are getting their kid a gift and have no clue about video games.

  6. Christian said on June 22, 2008:

    My favorite Gamestop employees are the ones that tell me not to buy something because I found a sweet used game deal that they want too.

  7. Tyson said on June 23, 2008:

    Ahh…at my store, if I wanted a game, it would never even make it to the shelf for you to see. :)

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