Look, I love great games as much as the next guy. Fun to play, great replay value, engaging characters and gameplay, yadda yadda. And nothing gives me more satisfaction than earning the final winning point in a multiplayer match, or landing the last, delicious critical hit on an end-game superboss.
But the fact of the matter is very few people have both the time and the money to plow through these games. Do you have a family, or a job with nine or more daily hours? Say goodbye to JRPGs and MMOs. Are you a college student or some type of ethnic minority? Good luck buying a new [insert Activision franchise] installment this year. Are you part of the fastest-growing American demographic* known as the working poor?** You might as well start grinding out more work-hours and spending your money on food and shelter.
What has the world come to?
As an individual with a salaried income and various embezzling schemes constantly cooking, affording games isn’t that hard. After all, some people pay $60 a month on alcohol, cable television, or “health insurance.” Humbug. As long as PSE&G gets paid and Elle and I have enough Mountain Dew to sustain our caloric needs, the rest can be poured into the gaming rig and Xbox 360.†
I don’t advocate mindlessly blowing money on your gaming addiction. Look for deals; buy on eBay; shop on Steam. Save your impulse consumption for drugs, strippers, razor blades, and a handgun with a single bullet in the magazine. But even if you spend every last dime you own on pro games and pro game accessories, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have the time to play them.
On my shelf right now sit The Darkness, Alan Wake, Blazblue 1.5, Splinter Cell Conviction, Homeworld 2, KOTOR, Final Fantasy XIII, Rock Band 2, Rock Band: Beatles, Starcraft 2, and at least a handful of other PC and Xbox 360 games I’ve yet to beat. This doesn’t include my Steam collection, which is brimming with titles previously marked down to fuck it, I’m buying it prices.Will I ever beat these games? Hell, will I even start some of them?
Now, I don’t feel bad about owning all these games, as they collectively cost me maybe $100 through a combination of winning contests, trading on Swap.com, and exploiting Buy 2 get 1 free deals.†† But for a game like Starcraft, with a protracted story mode, it could take a week or two to beat it, even if I played it for an hour ever day. For a game like Final Fantasy XIII… lol.
It’s no surprise that I rarely beat single-player campaigns, because multiplayer progression is just so much more immediately rewarding, with no stigma attached to an incomplete experience. And while it seems people are getting angrier and angrier over paying $60 for a 5-hour story mode, I actually prefer buying games that I know I have a realistic chance to complete. On the other hand, I can imagine many gamers with more free time and less moolah available might prefer the opposite, milking the latest offerings from the Land of the Rising Sun for every experience point possible.
Perhaps we can trade notes.
*Other than Catholics
**On second thought, these are not mutually exclusive.
†The rest of the money, not the rest of the Dew.
††This is a relatively simple method. If it’s buy 2, get 1 free, you buy 3. Sell the first 2 on eBay for $5 less than MSRP. You therefore pay only $10 for the third copy, which you keep. Works best if you start the auction before the item is actually available.