Behold, Ye Video Game Designer’s Rules of Grocery Store Parking [Gamer By Design]

We’ve all heard about how video games are infiltrating everyday life. Infiltrating it to an almost annoyingly offensive level. After reading a few trade magazines with such articles, I started thinking about parts of life that already have video game style rules. Consider the deep, intricate rules that you don’t even notice anymore..for example, how to decide which way to go when you’re walking straight at someone on the sidewalk. You kind of make eye contact, you tend to indicate slightly which way you’re going, etc. The same set of inherent rules are common in most of the things we do in everyday life; who goes first at an intersection, whether you should fold clothes one by one, or sort first then fold, etc.

That is what makes video game design a pretty natural thing to understand. The best designs are made of sets of rules. So after years of thinking that way, I came up with a set of rules to one thing that we all encounter, at least those of us who drive to get groceries: Where to park in a grocery store parking lot to avoid door dents.

But mostly, I’m writing this to show how something that seems like common sense actually has some pretty specific rules. As video game designers, this is how we approach things like character AI behavior. We make rules out of systems that seem totally organic. And I guess, as you can see below, we tend to do this all the time, even with the most mundane things.

So here we go, the rules to parking at the grocery store, in order to avoid dents!

  1. I’m a VIP Rule If you have a nice car, never ever park across two spots. This one sounds like a good idea. “I’ve got so much space, and people know it’s a nice car.” However, to other people, this is a faceless stranger who thinks he’s more important than them. This will invite something that’s, in normal circumstances, not too common. Deliberate vandalism. You just made them so mad they’re willing to commit a crime in a place that everyone knows has video cameras! Rarrrr, BMW!
  2. Dirty Old Man, Clean Old Car Old men don’t get many free passes, except in staring at the fairer sex and nice cars. If you have a car built before 1970, you can violate number one, as long as you are so far back in the lot that there are no cars around. People will think you’re a nice old car collector who lives for his auto.
  3. Island to the right If you must park next to someone,  in typical head-in parking, find one of those curb islands and put it to your right. It’s less likely a driver door is gonna swing at your car.
  4. Cart Demo Derby Never park next to the grocery cart thing, no matter how far away.
  5. One of those nice people in the stickers is bound to swing a door too hard. Espeically the dog.

    Minivan Hell Never park next to a minivan. If you must, observe those dumb family stick people stickers on the back. If there are more than two adults and a kid, don’t park next to it. These people are too busy to care about their car or yours.
  6. Coupe Sailors Don’t park next to a two-door (coupe) car unless it’s nice. Coupes have wide doors that will catch wind like a sail on a pirate ship.
  7. Won’t you be my neighbor Speaking of nice cars, if your car is in good condition, choose the most expensive car in the lot and park reallllly close to its right. Nice cars never have more than one passenger, unless they’re rolling to the valet in Vegas.
  8. Wildcard rule Never park close to the store with a blank spot to your right. You never know what the hell is gonna roll in there. It could be a surburban family in a Suburban.
  9. Car Brotherhood. If your car is nice, then get next to a car of the same brand. This is true especially with American and German cars. Those people tend to have brand loyalty. “I’d never hurt another Corvette! That would be sacrilege.”
  10. Mardi Gras rule Know how some of the people you know have mardi gras beads or those plastic flowers on their rear view? Those people are thinking too much about fun and their next vacation. They spend money on weekends and plane flights, not fixing their car. Stay away!
  11. Billboard rule Refer to the minivan rule. Stickers are a good indicator of who to avoid. Anything really right wing, and you have a foreign car? Stay away. A sticker that says “Pee on Ford” and you have a Mustang? Stay away.
  12. Yoga Rule Rule 11 can be broken with any bumper stickers that have to do with Yoga, Namaste, Be the Change you Wish to See in the World,  or anything that has to do with Portland Oregon. All of those people are nice and will respect your car.
  13. My Good Side This is for the less than shiny cars. Once you get that first dent, there’s a sort of liberation to it. Park that dented side close to the most common offenders, according to the inverse of the above rules. It’s already dented, after all.
  14. Crazy People Rule The first rule of crazy people is that they just want you to leave them alone. If the car is full of random dead cats or ventriloquist dummies, stay away. If you hit their door, it’s worse than if you hit theirs.
  15. You know what they say. If you can afford it, who cares about MPG.

    Richie Rich Rule If you have a whollllllle lotta money and a really nice car, just park wherever you want and pay someone to routinely fix the body work. Also, waste money in other fun ways like a flock of flamingos or a ferris wheel in your yard. Just don’t park the car near your flamingoes.
  16. Oh yeah I’m Covered Rule If you have no car insurance, park really really far away from everyone. Preferably in some field.
  17. Oh Who Cares Rule Inverse of 16. If a car already has a messed up door, never ever park next to it. They’re gonna open that thing wide with reckless abandon.
  18. I’m Walking Here! If you live in a big city, don’t have a nice car. Or don’t live in a big city if you have a nice car. Other than that, if Rule 15 applies, rent a nice garage spot.
  19. Force Field Rule If you have a really crappy car, then you are the master. Park wherever you want, and all the people obeying all other rules will avoid you like the plague, and you’ll avoid any further dents. That’ll really help the resale value of your 1995 LeBaron.
  20. Parking spots on TOP of other cars don't count!

  21. Texas Rule This is the cousin to rule 1. If you have a pickup that you care about, don’t 4 wheel it up to the curb island and park on it.  If you really want to go four wheelin’, I suggest the ranches of Texas, or even more extreme, the potholes in the highway of my native PA. I mean you saw how the Batmobile fell in that big hole? They probably haven’t fixed that yet.

If you have any more fun or region-specific rules, feel free to suggest in the comments. Hope you had fun and happy grocery parking!

Image Credits: Ben Bunch, damors, ceonyc, battlecreekcvb