"There is difference and there is power. And who holds the power decides the meaning of the difference." --June Jordan

Sunday, March 1, 2009

GameStop Teaches Employees How to Talk to Female Customers

This week, the gaming blog Kotaku posted about this instructional training video GameStop apparently showed its employees to teach them how to talk to their increasing numbers of female shoppers and to get them interested in their "Sharpen the Mind, Shape the Body" promotion, in which customers who spend a certain amount on health and fitness-related Wii and DS games get a free subscription to a lady magazine like Redbook or Good Housekeeping. Aside from all of the problems with specifically marketing weight-loss-related video games to women, the video is staged like a cheesy safari where women are likened to a rare and fascinating animal species requiring special training to understand and capture.

The closing lines are priceless:
"Over the next few weeks, we expect our new promotions to draw more female customers than ever into Game Stop stores. So, keep in mind what we've seen here today: A personal approach, good listening, and knowledgeable suggestions delivered in a friendly, unassuming way will help you create hundreds of new female Game Stop enthusiasts."
Uhh, since when are female customers the only ones who appreciate good listening and unassuming, knowledgeable suggestions?

I could go on and on about how ridiculously condescending I found this, but I think the guy who left this comment over at Kotaku sums it up pretty nicely:
This is why women won't ever get into technology, or gaming. Because stupid ad campaigns like this one just belittle them, and give employees the impression that women are stupid cave people who have no idea how to use technology.

As someone who has known their fair share of female gamers, I can tell you the majority of them are always pissed off when Gamestop / Best Buy / big chain store talks down to them, like they don't know shit about gaming BECAUSE they are a woman. Movies like this just further hammer that point home.

I once remember an incident at Gamestop, I was with a woman who was trading in some games - the clerk watched her walk up to the counter, say "I'd like to trade my games in", made some small talk, and at the end, the clerk turns to ME and says "So man, what are you going to be picking up with your trade-in credit?" to which I said "...these aren't my games, or my credit" and he goes "...really? oh...".

I just felt so horrible for him that the world has conditioned most people into thinking women can't possibly know anything about technology, to the point where even if they do, they keep quiet about it because most men will talk down to them anyways.

Sexism sucks, and for once, it's not a Gamestop problem, because ALL companies have videos like this, how to target women because apparently women aren't supposed to know about technology.

Agreed. Sexism does suck.


Interrobang said...

You are more right than your essay conveys:

I'm a female software tester and technical writer. When I got hired on here after being freelance for years (lovely firm, but the only other woman is the office manager), the technician asked me if I could install my own help authoring software...

My handle is gender-neutral because I chose it for posting on Slashdot starting in 1997.

Anonymous said...

And this is why I shop online.

Anonymous said...

I remember when I went to Gamestop, the guy there treated me like I was some kind of moron. He kept insisting that if I was planning on selling my games back, I should buy some magazine subscription. Even when I told him I had no plans of selling the games back, he kept trying to explain to me the process of buying the subscription, as if I didn't get it. By the time I told him I thought Zelda OoT was better than Twilight Princess, he went into full condescension mode about how I must not have recognized all the enhanced graphics or better developed storyline in TP. Needless to say, I didn't shop there again.

BTW, that safari movie pissed me off--are *all* of Gamestop's employees guys? I just know if I worked at Gamestop and I was shown that video as part of my training, I'd be pretty damn offended.

Lauren O said...

I remember in high school, I was going around the mall looking for a job, and I asked for an application at a gaming store. The guy behind the counter said, "Do you even know what this place IS?" It was actually rather a convenient way to decide I would rather work somewhere else.

I think that particular guy was the one who missed out on the most. He obviously didn't interact with women very much. I could have helped him learn how. Alas.

Anonymous said...

I'm a huge gamer and have been since I was a little girl. I'm from the UK, but I used to work for a similar store - Gamestation - a couple of years back. I was the only girl wokring there. The other male staff were great guys, but I had to deal with at least one incident of sexism from male customers a day. I think the whole having breasts thing was very distracting for them.

I actually had one customer who would not let me serve him because I was girl! In his words his questions were for "a male member of staff" - his question was which game he should buy of the 2 games he was holding. I owned both games.

So many male customers just assumed that I would have no product knowledge at all. I can't tell you how much it used to rile me! These guys just believed the myth that women don't play games. I reckon they propagated their own myth by outright refusing to believe they could be wrong, thus making sure that female gamers wanted nothing to do with them.

If you will excuse me, I now need to vent my anger at this video by mowing down some infected zombies on Left 4 Dead.

Here via Shakesville.

Anonymous said...

I love that I only further these stereotypes by appearing totally lost in all game stores and by only buying Tetris and MarioKart.

Anonymous said...

I wrk in a tech store and have heard not only from men, "is there a man around i can speak to" but also from women. It's not just men who have been conditioned to seek tech help from other men, but women as well, feel more secure asking a man questions. My favorite insult from a male customer was when he told me "i equate your intelligence to the size of your breasts. Can you go get me one of the male employees to help me"

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