Old Grandma Hardcore

This blog is the chronicle of my experiences with Grandma, the video-game playing queen of her age-bracket and weight class. She will beat any PS2, XBox, GameCube, etc., console game put in front of her, just like she always has. These are her stories. She is absolutely real. She lives in Cleveland.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

We did something horrible and wonderful today.

I want you to picture yourself at a department store.

You're slightly depressed. You figure a little shopping therapy will do you some good; blow a little money on yourself as a distraction from whatever is pissing you off. You picked out a shirt you kind of like and you're standing in line at the register.

The person in front of you is chatting with the sales clerk. "Do you think this top is too thin for spring?"
-"Oh, no- you can layer that easy. It'll look good!"

Feeling a little more confident with all the assured agreement bouncing around, you attempt small talk with the folks behind you.

"At least it isn't snowing anymore out there, amirite?" you say with a smile.

But they aren't looking at you. They're looking at the shirt you picked out.

"Jesus fuck."
-"You're not going to actually BUY that are you?"
"Oh my god."
-"Worst goddamn shirt I've ever seen."
"We've seen a lot of shirts."
-"That's the worst."
"Absolute worst."
-"It should be burned."

How would you feel if that happened? These people are assholes, right? That's the correct answer, don't feel bad. People like that are oblivious to the feelings of others, devoid of empathy. The only thing they care about is their own goddamn opinions. They jump at the chance to tell people what they think, like anyone gives a shit.


Now imagine it isn't a shirt.

Imagine it's Rapala Tournament Fishing for the Wii.

Grandma and I stopped at Kohl's today to get a cheap pair of pants. All of my pants look as unemployed as I do. It's hard to find anything in a 28 waist / 30 length in most stores nowadays, but Kohl's is cheap and sometimes I get lucky in the 70% off section.

While Kohl's is mostly just clothes, they also sell luggage, kitchen gear, linens, kitsch decorations and the like. Remarkably, they also have a video game section.


It's mostly just mediocre titles that are already a bit old. The prices aren't very good either. But it's not like you can complain, nobody really shops for games there. It's just a little impulse buy for the kids you dragged along. Maybe a gift. Something that makes that extra thirty second drive to the WalMart parking lot where the same $30 game can be had for $15 that much more painful.

I just got the pants.

As we stood in line, the girl in front of us solicited all sorts of fashion advice from the sales clerk to satisfy her choices.

Behind us in line stood Roger.

I don't know if his name was Roger, but he looked like a Roger. So we'll call him Roger.

Roger looked like the kindly sort of guy who would listen to your stories at work and reply, sincerely, with "that's interesting!" He was in his 40's or 50's, dressed for the weather, and had a bit of a scruffy beard. He motioned with a catalog he was holding.

"This is the last day to use the coupon, I think!" he told us.
-"That's right!" Grandma replied. "I think I threw mine away, though. I didn't know we were coming up here."
"Oh, they'll give you one at the register to scratch off if you ask, usually."
-"They're pretty good here about that."

And then I saw what Roger was holding.

Rapala Tournament Fishing for the Wii.

I thought I was just being helpful.

I thought he needed to know.

I thought I could do some good.

I wasn't thinking at all, now that I think about it.

I reached out my hand and said quietly: "Don't do it."
-"Don't do it?"
"That game."
-"Oh, this?"
"I got it for her for Christmas at Target for $20, I think. It was really, really bad. Just terrible."
-"Oh. Good to know, I suppose."
"Look, you won't hurt my feelings if you get it anyway, I'm just saying.."
-"That bad, huh?"

Grandma confirmed my testimony.

"It really is horrible. The graphics on the Sega Genesis were better than whatever they did to that game."

Then Roger looked down at his shrinkwrapped, ready for purchase copy of Rapala Tournament Fishing for the Wii, and looked absolutely crushed.

I felt about two inches tall.

I wanted to look away, hurry up with my pants and not witness this man's disappointment, but I couldn't help but notice he slowly put the game on a shelf selling some Dr. Seuss books.

Then it got worse.

He looked at a watch he was going to buy with the coupon he made sure to bring.

"Now I don't know if I want this, either," he said, completely serious.

This wasn't sarcasm. With one critical hit, we had destroyed his impulse buying joy. We had not only inserted hesitation into his Wii game purchase, but now EVERYTHING seemed to suck.

I tried to intervene.

"Yes, but.. your coupon! There's probably a really good game back there you could get, maybe.."
-"Nah, I looked. This was the best game back there."
"Damn.. There's gotta be something, though.."
-"You know what, it's easy. That's how people screw up- when there's nothing good, you don't have to get anything. Just walk on out."
"But your coupon!" I repeated, as though it made perfect sense to me.
-"...Do you want it?"
"No, no, that's okay- are you sure?" I am such a goddamn asshole sometimes. Jesus Christ.
-"Sure! Here, it's 30% off! Have a good one!"

We thanked him, and then he left.

Roger saved us 30% off a pair of pants that were already on sale. Roger seemed like an awesome guy.

I did not feel like an awesome guy.

I tried to convince Grandma of how much I was in the wrong during the drive home.

"I shouldn't have said a goddamn word."
-"Yes," she said. "But it was Rapala Tournament Fishing."

Game on.


  • At 7:25 PM, Blogger B-Rod said…

    I think you did a good thing. Honesty is the best policy. :)

  • At 10:30 PM, Blogger CtrlAltDelete said…

    I still feel like a jerk.

    But then I imagine the poor guy buying the game, taking it home, and witnessing its horribleness.

    But then I feel bad again.

  • At 12:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Yes, I've been there as well.

    Both are the perp and the victim to so speak. I have told people to avoid the two packs of crap games and WalMart, Big Lots or the like. Most have heeded the advice and been seemingly thankful for it. I have been the victim of the look of death from their kids that had wanted the games in the first place.

    It is a tough pill to swallow but someone must do it. Think of it as Holy War against shovelware. We've seen it on the PS2 and on the Wii.

    Plus you did the right thing in the end. No need to feel guilty about it.

  • At 6:55 AM, Blogger CtrlAltDelete said…

    I don't think I'd feel as guilty if it wasn't for his look of utter despair. That guy wanted something cool to play.

  • At 12:52 PM, Anonymous biggzy said…

    First, let me be clear: I'm not stating whether what we might do in this situation is good or bad, right or wrong. I'm just presenting another perspective.

    I see what Tim's getting at. Everyone has different tastes and different opinions of what's good and bad. Yes, to gamers who read this blog, this is an awful game by all accounts. Our "group" represents one audience.

    Based on this guy's responses, though, he sounds like he represents a different audience. Maybe, as a member of the public who doesn't play many games, he doesn't share our more critical notions of what's a "good" game and what's a "bad" game. Think about how many rubbish games sell well to those who don't share our standards.

    His idea of fun might be two hours out of his life spent playing a game on his kid's Wii that he picked out for himself instead of his kid. After playing it once, perhaps he'll put it on the shelf and never think about again. That may be all he expects from his $30 purchase.

    In other words, maybe he's looking for a completely different experience than we are. Maybe he's looking for a type of mindless fun that we would balk at but would entertain him for a bit. Folks like us groan at the sight of a game like this that carries such a bad reputation from our group, but he doesn't necessarily belong to that same group.

    Ask yourself this: have you ever seen a movie, heard and album, or been into anything that others thought was gaudy, mindless, or just plain stupid? Based on his standards and expectations, maybe this guy would have "liked" this game even though we hold a different opinion of it. Everyone is different.

    Tim, don't beat yourself up. You did what you thought was in the dude's best interests, and that's never wrong. I can see where you might feel some remorse, but what can you do? It's a tough position to be in.

  • At 9:24 PM, Blogger Ricky said…

    I'm a first time reader of your blog n loving every minute of it. A great time of a week spent scouring all of your entry, and really Timm, you really should try pitching your blog into a book or something. Perhaps complete with a dvd with all the videos compiled.
    In my country, there's a new genre of novel/book made entirely out of day to day blogger, where there are some of it moved into the next step of fulltime biographical writer. this blog certainly better than most I've read, it gives me laugh, it brings me tear, it made me feeling adventurous.
    Best of luck to you guys, game on!
    (Eniwei, what's grandma opinion about ME2?)

  • At 3:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    ugh i own that game darn

  • At 7:42 AM, Anonymous gih said…

    Haha. Nice stolen shot at him.

  • At 12:07 PM, Blogger Bonobo said…

    Wow, awesome story.

    Seriously, just heart wrenching. When he realized what he was about to do, but what about the coupon? I mean really, why waste a perfectly good Kohls coupon?

    Man, I miss you. Tell Grandma I saw hello.

    Feel free to call if the mood strikes you...it's 330-310-7038 these days.


  • At 9:44 AM, Anonymous Doram said…

    I will tell you that I agree with the Holy War against Shovelware comment above. I have worked in a store selling video games before, and I have been on the crushing end of the conversation many times. My only advice, and my only consolation at those times, is to give the warning, but also make the suggestion for another game that you do think is good. Ask how many games they have played in the genre, and make a guesstimate on their skill level, and pick a beginner good game, or an advanced good game suggestion. Many times, the "This is bad" is crushing, but they will perk up at the mention of a good game. Let them know that you get your information from sources that you trust, and mention those too. Letting them know where they can get reliable advice can perk them up too. Help them become better gamers by looking to the right things for information, and you will be further contributing to the group, perhaps even more than preventing every dollar you can from going to shovelware manufacturers.

    As for the other perspective, I agree that casual gamers do look for different things from games than we do, but that doesn't mean that they will not be frustrated by truly bad games, or that they will not appreciate a good one. If you get the sense that they are looking for something light, there are great light games to be had. Nobody will argue that Tetris (pardon the old example) is a bad game, but it is quite good for a quick fix too, if that is all that you can give, or are looking for. Make the suggestions for the good games, if you have the expertise to do so. People will appreciate the time and thought you put into your gaming. All of us appreciate everything you do with this blog for exactly the same reason. Share the love of gaming. It makes everyone feel better.

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    I don't understand why you feel bad about this. Throwing money out the window just to please some marketer distributing coupons should not represent some religious obligation... When one MUST use "The coupon" so as to find Enlightenment, whatever the cheap and/or useless guyzmo aquired, that's where people should feel bad in the end : when they let their impulses get manipulated by coupons (and ill-will marketers making them), in the end they let vampires suck the juices out of your wallet which is the real goal of coupons... Personally I'd rather feel a very slight deception about not finding something valuable over which to spend my timely coupon, instead of having the feeling of having been had when I get home. IMMHO it was a good call on your side. Do it again please...

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