Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Getting my Money's Worth: Video Games

When any money changes hands, for either goods or services, I have to ask a simple question. Am I getting my money's worth? I absolutely hate wasting money; I want to get the proverbial bang for my buck. If I'm buying a video game, the bang is less proverbial.

You may remember the gamefly commercials portraying gamers as people so immature that they would hurl their television through a window because they bought a bad game. Really? You're marketing to a specific demographic, and you portray said demographic as every bad stereotype come to life? I get that the reality of commercials is not the reality we regular humans inhabit, but at least try to look reasonable.

My point being is that while I will not destroy my very nice television in a fit of gamer rage, I am upset if I feel like my video game experience does not live up to the price tag. Whether I spend a little or a lot, I have a simple rule for whether I judge this video game purchase to be worth it.

I get an hour of enjoyment from the game per dollar I spent.

I don't think that's an unreasonable rate of return. A dollar an hour is a fair exchange. If it's a short game, then I should expect to pay a few dollars. I'm willing to pay more for a long game that might take me 50 to 100 hours to play through.

While I try not to only judge a game based on gameplay length, that is a factor. However, I am just as happy to play and replay a short game that is fun the second, third, or tenth time through. Short games with a lot of replay value are fantastic, because again, it's the hours of enjoyment I can put into it that's important.

I think this attitude comes from my younger days, back when the NES was the most technologically advanced piece of electronics I could own. If I spent $40 on a game, it had to last a long, long time, because there was no telling when I'd be able to get another one. That's why I had to make sure that this was a game I wanted.

It helped that I had friends with NES systems of their own, so I could see what they were playing. I also had a subscription to Nintendo Power, and that was my first foray into being a responsible and well-informed consumer. When I spent my money, I made it count, because I didn't have a lot of it to waste on terrible games.

When video stores (remember those?) began renting video games, that was a revelation. Now all I needed was a few hours of enjoyment and my money was well spent. Plus, now if I could finish a game in a weekend, I didn't feel ripped off. I was grateful I didn't waste my money.

That thinking remains with me today. As an adult, I still feel like I need to make these purchases count. I need to make sure that my gaming dollars are well invested, and so I ask myself, will I get an hour of enjoyment for every dollar I spend? I don't think that's too unreasonable.

This is why I get so excited when I see games on sale. I still love checking out the clearance bin, because if I can pick up a 50-100 game for under $10, that's an amazing deal. I will love that game knowing that I only paid ten cents per hour. Yes, I could pay more, but there's something appealing about getting more than my money's worth. Recently I picked up the latest Humble Indie Bundle, and let me tell you, even if you pay above the average price (to get all the goodies in the bundle) that's still a great deal. I know I'm getting more than my money's worth with that.

That's how I approach my game purchases. I will be forever that kid who has to make that game last over many, many long months before I can get a new one.

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