QUEENSBURY — If you’ve ever wondered what the employees do during downtime at a video game store, a local store is revealing it’s just as fun as you suspected.
In a new YouTube video series called Behind the Counter, employees of Insane Games have begun recording what they do between customers.
Yes, they really do play the hot new games as soon as the shipment arrives.
They have three big screens behind the counter, several game systems hooked up, and they routinely challenge each other. The trash talk and jokes that you’d expect among friends is exactly what you hear.
The store, owned by friends who grew up in Schuylerville and Queensbury, was in Saratoga before moving to Queensbury last August. It’s now in the Home Depot Plaza on Route 9, around a corner where it can’t be seen from the plaza’s entrance. The location is less than ideal — customers regularly regale them with tales of struggling to find the place — and the employees find themselves saying they’re next to the Chipotle, which faces the street and thus is easier to spot.
But the YouTube videos have caught gamers’ attention, making customers willing to come in search of the store.
“It’s working. We’ve been surprised how many people come in,” said general manager and co-owner Dan Shevlin.
The videos don’t really advertise the store. They’re more of a glimpse into what must be one of the best working environments for game aficionados.
“We always said we could have our own show, based off what we do in the store,” Shevlin said. “We’re not so much trying to promote our business.”
They do have some commercial plans for the venture. They’re working on adding online purchasing to their website. Once that’s operational, they plan to embed links in the video so that viewers can buy whatever they are using during the show.
But mostly, they’re just having a good time.
“We just said, let’s start acting like we normally do. Let’s see where it goes,” Shevlin said.
They try to hold the line on swearing. But otherwise, it’s no holds barred.
“It’s what we talk about when no one’s here. Our competitiveness with the games we play,” Shevlin said. “We have fun with it. That’s the whole point. Talking, making fun of each other.”
They even Skype in co-owner Tyler Hayes, who grew up in Schuylerville and started the store with Shevlin. He moved to Florida, where he manages two Insane Games storefronts now.
They’ve all worked together for seven years, and are joined on the show by employee David Mann, who has worked at the store for three years.
But a breakup is coming. Store Manager Mike Bautista is in his last year of college, majoring in business management. After graduating from SUNY Adirondack, he hopes to manage other businesses.
It’s going to be a big change for him, and he got a taste of the other life last summer. While Insane Games was moving from Saratoga to Queensbury, he took a temporary position at Hannaford.
“That was very different,” he said. “It was a lot different working for a corporation than a locally owned business.”
The differences went beyond the lack of gaming. He noticed that employees weren’t given as much responsibility as they would be at a small store, where everyone must put in 100 percent to keep the business afloat. Turnover was high, too, so he didn’t meet people who had the rapport he had built with the Insane Games workers over the course of seven years.
Back at the gaming store, he noticed that even the customers loved that rapport. And seeing it online has drawn people in.
“You can get a lot more help than you would at Wal-Mart,” he said. “But if they just want to come and talk, they can. That happens too.”