Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Not all of your customers are idiots, Gamestop.

So I was walking back home from lunch with my friend Dave today when I passed by a Gamestop. I decided to go inside to do a little window shopping when I realized that I'd been holding onto these gift cards that my other friend Tony gave me not too long ago. I figured, what the hey, let's pick up Super Mario Galaxy. I had my Edge card with me so I figured I'd visit the dark side and buy it used to shave 10% off the price. I'm a miser like that. I'm trying to cut down how much I spend in general, so making gift cards go as long as they can will help tremendously.

After receiving my disc and making my way to the door, I remember to stop and check it for scratches, because with any used disc, you're sort of playing with fire. Sure enough, among the typical nicks and non-threatening scuffs you usually see, there was a 3cm-long circumferential -- officially, tangential -- scratch. If you don't know what a tangential scratch is, it's basically a scratch that curves along in an arc on the circumference of the disc as opposed to one that kinda just juts down in a straight line from the edge to the center.

Now, picture how ANY optical disc drive reads its media: the disc itself spins around and around in a circle, and the laser eye that sits inside the drive stays in one spot and shoots out a laser that hits the surface of the spinning disc and determines what the data is. Sometimes the laser eye will travel up and down the radius of the disc area. The key takeaway is this: if the laser is stationary and making contact with the disc for even a split second, it is basically reading a small curve of data off of the disc. It is reading a small arc of the disc's circumference. Therefore, a scratch that curves around the spiral of the disc like that is much more problematic than a scratch that simply nicks the disc from center to edge (otherwise known as a radial scratch).

Want an explanation? Go here.

Now with that out of the way, I take the disc back to the cashier. I show him the tangential scratch, and ask him politely if I could change the disc. He looks at it in the light for a few good seconds, tilting it as if inspecting it gingerly, then makes his verdict. "It'll be fine." He puts it back in the box.

No. Fuck you. I'm an educated individual. Don't try to make me look like a fool.

"Um, no, those are the worst kinds of scratches because of how it curves around the data."

With a somewhat incredulous look, he says, "I'd understand if it went all the way around the disc, but, nah, I've had lots of scratches on discs before and they work fine."

You know what? I don't give a shit what you've had. I've had lots of scratches too and they've worked fine -- but I don't care. If I'm going to pay money for a used game, I will make sure that I get one in the best condition I can. Everyone has the right to do that, and if management tries to instill a policy that says otherwise, then fuck you three times in the ear, I won't shop there anymore. Anyway.

"I really don't care -- I'd like to get the best disc possible. I don't want to be playing this at home and then come to return it days later, or play this just to come to find out that halfway through the game, that's where the scratch comes in and the game freezes. I've seen this happen with a Dreamcast disc of Marvel vs. Capcom 2 -- it got a similar scratch and never worked again."

"Did you say Dreamcast?" he asks, again incredulous.

"Uh, yeah. So?"

He smiles. "Dreamcast and Wii process their games totally differently."

Again, I must hold my tongue. I don't know how old he is, how long he's had this job, what shit all he knows about engineering and optical media, or if he's been commanded by Gamestop management to not allow any disc swaps unless customers won't go away, but he must think I'm an uneducated slob of a gamer. I don't think telling him he must think I'm an idiot and that he has no idea what he's talking about and has he ever taken any engineering courses and asking if in fact he has even graduated from high school yet would get the job done, so I stay calm and just tell him that's not how it is.

NEWSFLASH: Just because a console is different DOESN'T MEAN that the optical media on which the software is contained is read so significantly differently from each other as to shirk off the basic principles of how OPTICAL DRIVES WORK. YOU ARE A DOUCHEBAG.

"Besides," I continue, "I don't want to be playing this at home and then come to return it days later, or play this just to come to find out that halfway through the game, that's where the scratch comes in and the game freezes."

"Well is there a Gamestop near your house?"

I lie and say flat-out no. (Hear that? I lied, but you did too, so don't get all vagina-sandy about it.) I ask again to please just give me the disc. He turns to his manager and relays the situation, and the manager just points to another used-game case and says, "Get it from there," not giving me the, "So sir, what are you asking for again?" and not sticking up for his employee. Box was empty, so the cashier finally found a copy in the drawer and gave it to me. It was a pristine disc, and I was ultimately happy.

But the bottom line is this: just because you work in a Gamestop, are taller than me, and have a polo shirt tucked in while I am wearing a cap with my un-tucked T-shirt and baggy jeans, doesn't make you even a fraction as smart as me or any other customer. Just because you're a clerk in a videogame store does not make you the ultimate expert on how the physical machines -- which read these games -- actually work. In fact, you probably know as much as the average gaming fan, so don't try to insult my intelligence or anyone else's by making up some completely bullshit bullshit about how a disc is read by a drive. You don't know how it works, my friends and I do know how it works, and a simple customer request that really isn't unreasonable should just be made after legitimate inquiry. Yes -- Dreamcast discs are pitted from the outside in, where traditional discs are pitted from the inside out -- but this has NO bearing on whether or not an optical laser reads the disc in an arc or not.

So, if you were the one in the Gamestop at 33rd Street and Broadway in Manhattan, New York, NY, at approximately 4:19PM on Wednesday, April 30th, who tried to tell the Asian guy in the Kansas City Kings retro hat with the navy blue jacket, blue tee and jeans who was buying Super Mario Galaxy that Dreamcast discs are read in a different manner than Wii discs so as to render tangential scratches as insignificant, fuck you. You don't know shit. Read a little bit about how it works before you try to peddle that steaming pile of crap to another customer who might know a thing or two.

UPDATE: My boy Al just made a very salient point in the comments about how Wii discs are probably even worse off with a tangential scratch than a Dreamcast disc:

You know, Wii would be much more sensitive in reading media than the Dreamcast! As discs continue to squeeze more and more data into those fixed areas, the probability of corruption increases with tangential scratches.

GD-ROMs only held 1 GB of data.
Single layer DVDs hold 4.7GB of data.
Dual layer DVDs (e.g. Smash Bros. Brawl) hold up to 9 GB of data!

This is even more of a reason that rep should have gotten you a cleaner disc from jumpstreet.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am continually amazed at Gamestop employees. I've had too many run-ins to name.

The AnTiPoDe said...

You know, Wii would be much more sensitive in reading media than the Dreamcast! As discs continue to squeeze more and more data into those fixed areas, the probability of corruption increases with tangential scratches.

GD-ROMs only held 1 GB of data.
Single layer DVDs hold 4.7GB of data.
Dual layer DVDs (e.g. Smash Bros. Brawl) hold up to 9 GB of data!

This is even more of a reason that rep should have gotten you a cleaner disc from jumpstreet.

MrCHUPON said...

...wow. That's a goddamn good point. I'm going to direct people to read the comment.

edu.reboucas said...

Yeah like Al said, SSBB had a lot of problems when it was first out due to people getting scuffed discs. The more data the game holds, the more sensitive it is, I suppose. I heard there's also a difference, albeit slight, in the thickness of the CD over the years, not sure if that influences the problems with scratches.

Either way, I was lucky to find nice GameStop people when I was over visiting, except for one guy in Delaware (of all places!) who tried to be all wise about the games Brazilians were offered. I had the same experience in Florida once, where I jokingly said that there's a Master System hanging over every tree near my communitary tree house in the rain forest. He laughed like an ass and probably realized he had spoken out of his buttox there. :P

artemis said...

wow. this was absolutely nerdtastic. i feel educated enough to be able to beat hersh at Gears of War now...as long as he's got a disc with a tangential scratch on it.

melishi said...

haha.. i despise that gamespot. That's where the guy tried to get me to buy another game because the one I chose was "eh"..