Gamestop Trading Customers Prints to the Police

If you follow any amount of gaming news, you’ve no doubt noticed a trend when it comes to Gamestop.  It seems like the retailer is always on the losing side.  Retailers claim they have to butcher their content among retailers (like Gamestop, Best Buy & Amazon).  Gamers claim they engage in price gouging & hassle them for pre-orders.  But the company is in the new again.  Or rather the chains in Philadelphia are.  Because apparently these stores have begun taking thumbprints from customers who trade in games & upload them to a law enforcement database.

Their reason for doing this is to help crack down on thefts and break-ins.  Because obviously there’s no way to know if the person trading a game in is really the one who owns it.  By fingerprinting trade ins, police can run prints found at a burglary scene through this system to see if the same person has traded games & systems back in & hopefully track the thief down, thus returning the stolen items to their rightful owner & serving justice on the criminal.

But in spite of this noble goal, this recent news has had some people in the gaming community in an uproar; giving them further ammunition to bash Gamestop with & screaming claims about taking their rights away & all the usual claims that typically come with increases in security procedures.  However, I’m not sure what to think about it.  I can see the issue from both sides, & both have valid points.

On the one hand, I can see things from a law enforcement perspective.  Firstly, what Gamestop is doing isn’t anything really new.  Pawn shops used to (& still do if they’re trying to be a legitimate business) write up tickets for every item they bought with the seller’s information to pass on to the police.  The police then check the tickets to see if the items that have been bought match any stolen reports they have.  Any time you deal in used goods, there’s always the danger of getting something stolen.  Because I work in law enforcement/emergency management, I’m one of the people who enters stolen items into the national database, so I know how often consoles get stolen.  And usually when they do, games are stolen as well.  And because the only place to quickly sale games & used systems is Gamestop, they’re probably a prime place to receive these stolen goods.

Also, as someone who has been burglarized in the past, I can sympathize with victims wanting to have their stuff back & catch the thieves.

Secondly, as others have pointed out, this is neither a policy required by law or Gamestop as a whole.  Just because the ones in Phily are doing it doesn’t mean every branch will adopt this policy.  Apparently this is already a thing in Florida & Georgia.  They’re simply being proactive in helping the police.  I don’t personally see this as becoming a company wide policy due to cost restraints.  Just think about the costs of sending every print from a trade in every day.  Short of finding data that this procedure dramatically reduces thefts, I only really see this being adopted by stores in large counties with high crime rates.

But I can also see things from gamers’ point of view.  It does seem a bit unnecessary when you consider that you don’t get cash for trade ins.  You only get in-store credit.  So it seems unlikely that Gamestop would be the first choice to foist stolen goods if all you were after was cash.

I can also understand not wanting to have to go through a long procedure just to trade in a few games.  I can see this hurting Gamestop’s sales on a larger scale if they’re not careful.  After all, they aren’t the only place to sell games back to.  If the procedure is too cumbersome, people will stop selling to Gamestop, & hence stop buying from them.  Let’s not forget that the used game market does make up a sizable chunk of Gamestop’s revenue.

So yeah, I have mixed feelings about it.  I think that, at the end of the day, it won’t really make a huge difference.  I don’t foresee this becoming a major policy for Gamestop.  Nor do I see droves of people leaving Gamestop because of it.  Not only do you not have a lot of people who just don’t care either way, but a lot of people won’t give up the convenience of trading to Gamestop.  Yeah, there are other options like Amazon or Craigslist.  But not everyone’s comfortable dealing with total strangers like that.  And besides, there are alternatives if you really don’t like it.

- GamerDame

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Game Review: Syberia

I remember watching on an episode of “Extra Credit” that one of the few game genres that have predominantly female protagonists are adventure games.  Of course there are games with male protagonists (like Monkey Island) & many have you play as yourself (like Myst), but there do seem to be more capable heroines in adventure games.  Perhaps it’s because these games are less action-oriented that developers (& gamers) feel more comfortable with female characters.  Whatever the reason, if there even is one, Syberia is one such game.

There's surprisingly little Siberia

There’s surprisingly little Siberia

In Syberia you play as Kate Walker, a business attorney who travels from America to a small French town to oversee the transfer of a unique toy manufacturing plant.  They make automatons, gear-based machines.  But upon arriving, Kate learns that the owner has died & left her company to her brother, long believed to be dead.  With him as the legal owner, Kate must track this mysterious Hans down using the creations he left behind on his journey into Siberia.

Syberia is your standard point-&-click adventure game.  Items you can collect or interact with are highlighted by your mouse as you move around the screen.  The majority of your time will be spent talking to people & finding items to solve the various obstacles you’ll encounter.

Kate & Oscar, BFFs

Kate & Oscar, BFFs

Narrative: I liked the gradual progression of the plot in this game.  I’ve always liked the idea of extraordinary things happening to regular people, & that’s the impression I got from Syberia.  What starts as something as mundane as getting an old lady to sign some paperwork quickly escalates into this grand adventure that neither Kate, nor the player, expects.  Seriously.  By the end I was saving retired opera singers from creepy old guys with a Phantom of the Opera complex & blowing stuff up.  Although the driving point of the story is learning about Hans & tracking him down, the story is ultimately Kate’s, I feel.  It’s about her realizing how fascinating the world can be if we let it.  At times it seems like the various subplots in the story are disjointed, but I think they end up tying together nicely.  For example, the short phone calls Kate gets from her mother & fiance actually end up playing into the larger story.  The characters encountered through the game are unique & colorful.  But the main characters would have to be Kate and Oscar, the automaton train engineer.  I enjoyed their interactions with each other grow throughout the journey.  I also found Kate to be a likeable heroine.  She’s sort of an Everywoman.  She expresses frustration at the hindrances she faces, but is driven to succeed.  My only real complaint story-wise is that the game ends on a bit of a cliffhanger.  I found Hans, but his & Kate’s journey has clearly only started.  But since I already have Syberia 2 in the wings, I won’t hold it against it too much.  Score: 4

Mechanics: Overall, the gameplay is nothing stellar but it works.  The way the cursor changes when there’s something to examine is very helpful.  I also liked that you could make Kate run by double clicking, making it faster to get through some sections.  There’s no combat in the game & no way to really fail.  The exploration aspect of the game was nice, giving you enough space without making it overwhelming.  Generally I always had some idea of what my overall goal in a level was & it was just a matter of exploring enough to find the right tools.  But I didn’t like that in some sections  I had to run back & forth between two characters to advance the plot.  Thankfully, the game avoids any major leaps of logic, & everything you need to know to solve a puzzle can be found in the environment.  So it’s all about observation.  It had a nice variety of puzzles & never felt repetitive.  Score: 3

I wish my college looked this cool

I wish my college looked this cool

Aesthetics: Although the graphics are aged, I thought they were fairly nice.  Especially the backgrounds.  Being static images, they all had this sort of faded, water-color look to them, which I thought really fit the mood of the game.  The character models are a bit blocky, & their stiff movements can be a bit hilarious at times (especially when they turn).  The cutscenes fare better, & while not to today’s uber-realistic standards in terms of detail, they’re still well-done.  The music in the game is mostly ambient, & at times seemed more dramatic than the scene necessitated, but the sound effects fit nicely.  Some of the voice acting was good as well, although it could be a bit hit or miss.  Kate’s voice is good, as is Helena’s (the opera singer), but the hotel manager in the final stage just sounded weird.  He had this posh British accent but spoke like an American.  I’m not sure if that was intended to be funny, but I nearly died when he said, “No way, Jose,” & pronounced it Joe-say.  Score: 4

Replay Value: Average.  While most people will be happy playing this through once, some people might enjoy playing more than once.  There’s no real reason to, but it could be enjoyable to play through the game a second time without to stress of solving the puzzles.  Score: 3

Breakdown

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Overall Score: 4

Final Word: The slow pace of the story & gameplay will probably turn off some people, but for those who want a solid adventure game experience with a fantastical story, I recommend checking Syberia out.

- GamerDame

Title: Syberia
Console: PC, PS2, XBox, iOS, Android
Rating: T
Developer: Microids
Publisher: The Adventure Company
Release Date: January 9, 2002

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