The other day I awoke and decided that on that particular day I would go down to my local video game store to purchase a video game. This in itself was not a particularly unusual action, although physically visiting the specialist store in question had become a distant memory in recent times; for there were other options available.
Yet on this day I decided that I must have a new physical video game from a physical store, and so I ventured to the video game store excited with the anticipation that I would later return home with a new video game.
When I first arrived at the video game store I was instantly shocked by the layout that confronted me. No more was the store loosely organised into sections based on different types of platform, now the store was neatly partitioned into three distinct segments. To my left a familiar shade of green signalling Microsoft’s Xbox, to my right the bold but subdued blue of Sony’s PlayStation consoles, and staring in front of me was a dull, almost grey, shade of white which at closer inspection I discovered was where Nintendo had been placed.
Confused by this artificial layout I went up to the end of the store to speak with the vendor.
‘Good day,’ I said to the surprisingly upbeat store vendor.
‘Hello and welcome, I noticed you were admiring our new layout,’ replied the vendor.
‘Actually, I am rather bemused by the binary layout; I was just intending to purchase a new video game.’
Dazed by the bluntness of my remarks the vendor began to reveal the true nature of this stark organisational approach to the store.
‘Well my dear customer I had assumed as much, but what is it you find bemusing about how the store is now laid out? Surely you know where your commitments lie.’
Commitments? Since when did one have to declare their commitments when purchasing a video game?
‘Apologies, but I appear to be ignorant of a potential new policy you have implemented alongside the new layout.’
‘Well you are correct about that much customer, it is just unfortunate that you did not receive our letter informing customers present and past of the new system that is now in effect. As one must now declare which platform they intend to remain with. For you see simply switching between purchasing video games for different platforms is an inefficient process. Therefore it is only a matter of course that I must once again ask you; what is your commitment?’
‘Excuse me!’ I blurted out in a manner most unusual for myself when out in a public space such as this. ‘But what if I do not find it inefficient? For I have a console from each platform and I was open to purchasing a video game for any of the consoles that I possess.’
‘Oh, no, that simply will not do, at least not any more. You see we cannot allow people to simply flirt with the notion that they can carelessly move between platforms. No, people must commit! Otherwise how else are we able to sell you video games if you are not loyal to one platform? We would not be able to effectively track what you buy and therefore plan for what you are likely to buy,’ explained the store vendor.
‘How can that be? You cannot remove the option of free choice away from the customer.’
‘I’m afraid that now I can, so I must ask you, so that I can note this down in my records and continue to assist you today; what is your commitment?’ asked the vendor.
‘No.’ I calmly replied.
‘I’m sorry what do you mean “no”?’ retorted the vendor, flabbergasted.
‘I will not conform to your restrictions. I will make no such commitments. Only I will decide which platform I will purchase a video game for and when,’ I revealed in what at the time I believed to be an almost heroic statement.
‘Hahahaha! How naïve of you, holding onto the belief that you can choose, that you still have the freedom to do so. My store is just one of many, and I’m sorry to…’ Then the vendor paused, smiled, and then resumed with what I feared was going to be news that I did not want to hear. ‘Well as you might have guessed, I am not sorry. For you see other stores that one like yourself might peruse operate in the same manner, and if they are not currently, then they will be within the coming days. You might think that you are virtuous in your belief that one can flit between platforms, but those days are coming to an end. So for the last time, I must ask you, where do you stand? Is it to the left, the right, or the centre?’