How to get a career in the gaming industry via a gaming store
This alternative job fits the bill for:
- Part time jobs for 16 year olds and teens
- Student jobs
- Most exciting jobs in the world
- Jobs that allow piercings
- Unusual jobs
We had a chat with Kitty Dean about what it’s like to work in a gaming store, and if roleplaying games are cooler than console games or if they’re floundering like a dying kraken thrashing in the sea (yes they are and no they’re not). Jealous much? You bet your shiny ass. Why the hell aren’t we working in a Mookychick-run gaming store?
You work in a traditional games store. What kind of games do you work with?
Our store sells a huge range of games, like board games, children’s playground games, party games like Balderdash and Taboo, collectable card games. Sometimes I think we have too many to remember!
We do a lot of table top wargames and dice rolling games like RPGs (role playing games). The difference between them is that with wargames, the game is played with an ‘army’ of miniatures, and the focus is on trouncing your opponent. It’s kind of like chess in that sense, but much cooler and much more fun (I suck at chess). With wargames there is also a lot less focus on story, though a lot of games have story-driven wars. RPGs, or dice rolling games, are all about adopting the persona of your character and playing out a story like a choose-your-own-adventure. These are great fun to play with your mates, and are my personal favourite genre.
Everyone always says traditional gaming hit its peak in the seventies and clung on in the eighties. What’s your take?
A lot of people still think that, and I hear it a lot with customers when they come into the store, but in truth, traditional gaming is still a big industry, particularly with board games. I think it’s kept a bit more private, especially with younger people because of the stigma of total geekery attached to traditional gaming. I honestly think traditional gaming is a lot better than say, console or computer gaming, because it’s a lot more social. RPGs in particular are very social games because you have to interact with the other players. And no matter how hard they try, there will never be a better graphics engine than your imagination.
How would you push people to do more gaming? Could they be a good part of a girlie night in or a boozy all-nighter?
Absolutely, games are a great way to spend a night in and booze it up! A couple of my workmates and I actually try to push that idea outside of work hours by having a board games night once a month at one of the little dingy dive pubs in town, and the people that join in always have a ball. When I’m talking to customers, I really like telling them how fun they are to play with friends, and then compare that to online gaming; while you’re interacting with people online in a MMORPG, you just don’t get the same level of enjoyment as sitting around a table with some wine and munchies and having a good laugh while you play Talisman or something.
Not just as a girl, but as you, what’s your fave game?
Definitely Carcassonne. It’s a really sweet little Eurogame where you win based on the number of points you have by the end of the game. I love it because I can play it with my other half, and it doesn’t have to be a cut-throat competitive game, there is a real sense of cooperation in it. But of course, it doesn’t always turn out like that; most of the time, he just wants to win. But it’s definitely my favourite, I’ve played it about 30 times and I still love it.
What kind of customers do you get? Are they nutters?
Some of them are completely barmy, haha! We get a lot of really lovely people, and a big percentage of them are regular customers, so I get to know a lot of them on a first name basis. It’s really nice to meet people like that, who share the same interest and passion for games that I do. But the ones who are bonkers tend to be either the over-enthusiastic gamers who will happily take up hours of your time telling you about the last twenty games of Magic: The Gathering they played, or they’re the crazy drunks that wander in from outside. They’re not fun.
What kind of things do you need to know for the job? Any qualifications?
Not really, a lot of the knowledge is picked up from reading reviews and asking your workmates questions about games they’ve played. I’ve also picked up a tonne of knowledge from customers, when they tell me about a game they love. The main thing you need for this job is a serious passion for gaming. That, and a lot of patience for the crazies!
Do you get, like, any money at all?
Haha, I actually get really good money with my store. Because we’re a franchise business, our owner pays us above award wage, and really takes care of us. We’re a lot better off than most other people in retail, but compared to an office job, it doesn’t pay a whole lot. On average, full-timers earn roughly about $33k (that’s Australian dollars) a year.
Perks of the job?
The sweet discount on games! That, and it’s genuinely an enjoyable place to work. I’ve never woken up of a morning and dreaded going to work. Sure, I whinge that I don’t want to go to work some days, but that’s usually because I haven’t slept enough, and I’m a grumpy panda in the mornings. Oh, and the other big perk is that we open an hour later in the mornings than most other stores! So I miss the peak hour rush on the buses and get an extra hour of sleep. The flip side is we close an hour later too. And our staff meetings pretty much consist of beer, pizza, chatting and then we play games. It’s product research *nods convincingly*
Does the job have a downside?
Sometimes it can be a little stressful when you get parents who will leave their kids in the store while they go and have coffee (it happens more often than you’d believe), and it can be very testing on my patience when I get stupid customers who won’t actually listen to what I’m telling them. But that happens everywhere in retail.
Bestest/worsest things you’ve experienced working in a gaming store?
The best thing I’ve experienced working here… Hmm… There are a lot of really good things that spring to mind, but for me, I really think the best thing is that I actually love my job. It sounds corny as hell, but I went through two and a half years of shitty jobs, one of which landed me in hospital from exhaustion. Turns out working as a waitress just wasn’t for me. It didn’t help that the restaurant didn’t close until 1am sometimes, and I was still studying at the time.
The worst thing was probably the day we got robbed. Thankfully it happened in the middle of the night so none of us were here to get in the line of fire, but coming to work in the morning to a freaked out assistant manager and having to help her clean up the absolute massacre they made of the store was not cool.
Definitely wins you cred with all the gaming boys, and your friends are pretty much universally jealous because they want your job haha.
It’s pretty laid back. The only real beef I have with it is that I can’t have any visible piercings (sad panda, I really wanted to get my nose pierced when I started working here too), and I can’t have my hair coloured anything too outrageous. That said, I can get away with my hair being black and white. I can also play pretty much any music I like. If David Bowie’s blaring from the speakers, chances are that’s my shift.
Like anywhere in retail I guess, there’s always the chance of being held up. I don’t think it’s ever happened in our store, but we are all trained with how to deal with it. That, and the drunk crazies can be a nuisance.
It really is the ultimate geek job. I can’t think of any job that could be geekier. It’s a bit of a niche market, so you end up being a board game geek after a couple of months even if you didn’t start out as one.
Alas, the uniform is not so sexy. We girls wear jeans or a knee length skirt of our choosing, and a company-supplied pale blue and white striped blouse. It’s actually a really lovely uniform, it just makes me look like I have no bubbies.
Gender prejudice factor?
Sadly, it’s huge. I’ll often get men on the phone who won’t speak to me about RPGs or wargames because they immediately assume that girls know nothing about them. Never mind the fact that I’m about the second most knowledgable person in the store on both counts. When you’re face to face with male customers, it’s not as much of an issue, because you can actually show them how much you know, but it’s still an obstacle we have to deal with on a regular basis.