DeMatteo’s rocking back and forth slowed as he acknowledged my questions, “Let me set the record straight: developers rely on GameStop. They should be begging us to stock their products; they should be eternally grateful for receiving our precious shelf space. Math is hard, ok? You can’t do the math. It’s way too hard. Pushing used games on our customers is for their benefit! A game replayed is a game well-made! It’s simple, you dummy. Developers, publishers, artists, creators--they need a middle-man to make money from their work. Creators don’t know what to do with money, GameStop does! Would a lowly game programmer even know where to get his Versace suit tailored?” DeMatteo sat back, arms folded and triumphant. I resumed questioning, asking again, “Aren’t you taking advantage of kids with low trade-in values?”
“I’m glad you asked. No, GameStop does not take advantage of ill-informed children with no currency except the small trade-in value we offer for their games. We are teaching children about commerce. We are teaching them about value. No child is forced to trade-in his games, we just encourage it with our employee training and hopefully we can take advantage of parents who don’t know any better, too. And now our stores are offering even more exclusive value to our children customers!” DeMatteo jumped up from his chair as he said this and returned to his seat in a squatting position, ready to jump again at a moment’s notice.
“‘We think of kids as tiny adults. They’re smart. They’re cool. They love games. And they know a deal when they see one! GameStop is proudly introducing a new trade-in policy: we now accept childhood pets!” DeMatteo’s arms flew open, a grin plastered on his face. “Kids can trade in their pets for in-store currency! This deal is exclusive to children--we don’t want adults’ pets. We are getting kids more involved in the economy than ever before. They have so much to learn, and GameStop wants to teach them! Duke Nukem is way cooler than a golden retriever, and kids totally get that.”
“What kind of pets are you accepting?”
“GameStop will be accepting any pet a child could possibly have! Dogs, cats, lizards, guinea pigs, you name it! Except birds. Fuck birds.”
I still sought some clarification, “Why pets? And what does GameStop do with the animals?”
“What else do children have to offer, their souls?” DeMatteo laughed. “We tried that. Kid screams were great for employee morale but bad for our bottom line: too many hours of overtime collecting souls demolished their trade-in value. Business 101. What else do they have to offer? Children don’t have much, and GameStop wants to give them the ability to trade-in the stuff they value the most. Should we also offer trade-ins for clothes? Imagine! A bunch of children running naked around GameStops!” DeMatteo cackled, eyes darting back and forth, on the verge of hyperventilating. His laughter stopped suddenly, “You don’t need to know what we do with the animals. No one does.” DeMatteo returned to a sitting position. The silence hung in the air, and DeMatteo’s stern expression accented by his slight smile discouraged me from pressing further. I shook DeMatteo’s hand, wet with something, and exited the building.