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Game Rats

9 May, 2004 By: Kurt Indvik

This week we have the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) taking over the Los Angeles Convention Center for the annual riotous frenzy of the video game industry. (See this week's issue of Video Store Magazine for a heads up on some of the hotter games making their debut at E3, and then look for post show coverage in a couple of weeks.)

In honor of that event we set up a little video game lab in one of our conference rooms here at VSM so staffers could get their hands on the controls to PS2, Xbox and GameCube systems for some hands-on experience. We tried games built around movie brands like James Bond, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and a few others, not to mention a variety of other titles.

Of course, some of us (not yours truly) have a whole lot more experience than others, and it showed. As a group, I'd have to say the majority of us were less than proficient with video games, even some of our younger staff members, which surprised me a bit. Being one of the old geezers in the group, I figured anyone in their mid to early 20's probably had these games wired. Not so. But even those that struggled at first, soon found themselves hooked on one game or another (since I'd wander by and find the same staffer who came back for another try at a particular game that caught their fancy).

As one inexperienced player noted “This would be great for a rainy day,” meaning they could see themselves spending more than a few hours trying to master a game.

Games can be extremely immersive and it's no wonder Hollywood has seen fit to work with game companies to extend a movie's brand lifespan, especially if that movie has sequels in the works. And it's no wonder that games can be a good rental business because for the more casual gamer it may take many rentals before they find a game that suits them enough to decide to fork over the $40 - $50 to buy it.

If you're a video rentailer who rents and sell video games (or is thinking about it) but who isn't particularly game crazy (ok, pun intended) I urge you to make an effort to carve out a few hours every now and then to play some of these games to better understand the customers you serve. Whether they are hard-core gamers, or casual weekend warriors, you can be a better resource for them if you have some working knowledge of what they spend those many hours doing. Who knows, you might just become a hard-core gamer yourself.

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