A few years ago I wrote an article discussing my experiences managing a retro video game store and the things that come along with it. While the overall experience was great, I made sure to note some tiny changes that seemed to have slowly been implemented with the biggest takeaway being that there was a good change that video games themselves would ultimately fade away and be forgotten about like Bing Bong in Inside Out.
Unfortunately, I ended up being correct in my assessment. Not long after reopening the store owner decided to shrink out all the video games we had in the store and move them all over to their main location which solely sold games. Thankfully, a few of our more recognized titles and all of our consoles managed to sell out within a matter of hours after reopening the store due to COVID. Gone were the games and what came pouring in were all the Banpresto figurines, posters, Gundam models, and Funko Pop. Lots and lots of Funko Pops. Those little buggers took over the store so much they literally took up around 75% of the showroom and 80% of our stockroom. Along with all of that came the biggest change of them all. The day that the store officially changed its name and did not have any mention of the word video games. The best way I can describe it is like working at GameStop and starting back when literally everything about it had to do with video games. Then a few years later it morphs into what it is now where you still have a Game in your title, but over half the store is Funko Pops and other collectables that keep getting sent to the store that literally nobody wants. Then, when it is all said and done, the video games officially go away at all GameStop stores and turn into ThinkGeek’s.
By the end I had come to the point where I no longer looked forward to coming to work every day and had no passion for it anymore. Ultimately, in September of 2020, I decided to leave my position with the company and move out of retail all together. So what led to that decision?
Like many in the year 2020, I was forced to stay at home due to the pandemic with the uncertainty of knowing when we would be able to go back to work, or what life ultimately entailed. It gave everyone time to reflect on every aspect of their lives. One major thing that did come out of it was the Great Resignation which resulted in many deciding to leave their jobs to pursue their goals in life, or to simply look for other jobs that offered a better overall work/life balance. The second highest quit rates came from the retail industry due to several various factors including long hours, low pay, zero benefits, and the Karens. A common trait you will see for those who work or own video game stores is that at the end of the day it is a passion project. Everything about the job is absolutely amazing, but it doesn’t necessarily pay the bills. Prior to leaving, I was making $11 per hour with zero benefits. While that is great when you are a high school or college kid, it hits differently when you are approaching your 30s.
Numerous case studies have been conducted regarding the mental effects that went into overdrive during the COVID-19 pandemic including stress, anxiety, and depression. Sadly, I can say that the latter was me. Within a span of 18 months I had gone from the rare occasion of having a job that made me the happiest to losing all passion for anything and everything. If you ever come to that point in your life you should seek change. Everything in life is temporary and is ultimately replaceable. A human life isn’t.
Flash forward to December 2022. I now have a normal office job with better pay and these things called benefits. I even have these things that are foreign to retail workers called PTO and weekends off. While I’m not around video games a lot, I have slowly started to regain my passion for that industry. Maybe that is still why despite not being nearly as active as I should be here at Gaming Conviction, I am still here posting away to a small audience in the corner of the internet. It’s still very far from where I where it should be, but it’s all coming back to me.