Friday, July 15, 2011

"Expensive Hobby" is an Understatement

The article I have written not too long ago called Harder Than the Years Past should be a clear indication that something has been stirring inside of me as of late. I have been searching deep within myself these past few weeks looking for an answer to why I have been feeling depressed about the state of video gaming in my life. The main problem is that I feel like I cannot keep up anymore with how fast this industry is progressing. It wants money continuously through a never ending list of new hardware and software as it tries to make itself as profitable as possible. Though the creativity that is generated by this should be celebrated, the problem here is that it is mostly a one-sided relationship in which we as gamers have to make the bigger sacrifices to keep the industry afloat. And how are we rewarded for this? Hardware makers keep trying to find the opportunity to jump ship to a "next generation" while game developers are giving us incomplete games in a variety of sneaky ways to make more money from us. The industry is changing and it is not changing for the better. Even though there are a handful of gaming companies out there that genuinely focused on their customers first and foremost, there are not enough of them to counter-balance the overall decay and the eventual collapse of my entire video gaming universe.

Once you have grabbed on to a controller, you are the one being controlled.

I fully understand now why a lot of people thought that I must be rich to have the amount of games that I have now. It's funny because I sure wish that I was rich. Though it doesn't take a rich gamer to own a large gaming library - it just takes time and I have been gaming for such a long time - it would take a rich gamer to grow his or her collection extremely quickly. There used to a time when I did spend a lot more on video games. I must have spent about 50% - 60% of my paycheck on them. Every other week, I would head out to my favorite electronics store and spend and spend and spend. Then, I would go online to and spend and spend and spend and spend some more. I was very young then. Young and immature. After a childhood of living with a low-income family, my no-holds-barred spending habit was expected however. I have never felt such freedom as I did back then but as we all  eventually find out, freedom always seem to come with a price. Things did change for me and I have tried my best to limit the spending while still attempting to get all the gaming items that I am interested in. This has been the case over the past two to three years and as a result, my Purchase List has truly grown in size.

The sky is not the limit. The ceiling is.

Oh yes, there was a time when that list was only occupied by 10 games or less. There were even several times when I remember having nothing on my list because I was able to get to them all. Then again, things were less complicated back then. I only had two consoles and the Personal Computer gaming scene was not all that attractive. Today, I have about 291 items in there. Let's just play around with a modest price of $19.99 for each of those items. So $19.99 times 291 equals $5,817.09. How crazy is that? So it would take close to 6 grand for me to keep up with my current gaming interests and let us not forget that the average price for these items are definitely higher than $19.99. Unless I won the lottery, I know for sure that I will never be able to get to all of those games any time soon and since the rate of inductions are slower, the list will only grow larger in size and the amount of money needed to sustain a wholesome gaming experience will become impossible to accumulate.

What I have should be more meaningful than what I don't have.

It's all about the want versus the need, I know that. Do I really need to get every single game that I am interested in? Of course not. But that fact doesn't make me happy because I want to get every single game that I am interested in. I am an atheist. I believe in making the most out of this life because I know that I will not be sitting down in heaven - nor hell - where I could play all the video games ever made for the rest of eternity. Heck, depending on the faith people "choose" to believe in, video games may not be a part of the supposed heaven. This life is my heaven but it is also my hell and it looks like I just cannot have one without the other. Because I believe in games instead of the platforms, I will never play exclusively on just one platform even though I know doing just that would probably enable me to gain more control in getting the games I wanted.

The gaming industry is moving ahead in full speed and though it thinks that it is making progress, it is not making the right choices. Do we really need 3-4 gaming platforms moving into the future? Perhaps real progress should be measured in the actual games instead of the variety of platforms that support them. Ever notice that there is always just one platform that shows technological superiority in every single "new generation"? People tend to argue that having more than one platform creates good competition but is that really true? Sega has found success being a game developer exclusively while dropping off its console generator gene. How come games are still being released on multiple platforms - doesn't that seem to be a waste of time for developers when they could just focus on creating a game for just one system? The healthy competition should be between game developers so that we can benefit from playing better games because hardware competition in this day and age just resulted in redundancies and really nothing else. Why do we play video games? To experience the actual games and the platform variations should not become a distraction nor a necessity anymore. Still, that probably will not help me in my current struggles because new game titles are being generated by the day and I just cannot get to them fast enough anymore. I just wish things would slow down a bit. I have climbed up these mountains over and over again and I just don't have the strength nor the financial backings to keep up anymore.

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