Double Agent
The price of freedom+ - January 29, 2002 - Erin Mehlos

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this column are those of the participants and the moderator, and do not necessarily reflect those of the GIA. There is coarse language and potentially offensive material afoot. It was then that I knew my $3 bill wouldn't be accepted here.... Don't say we didn't warn you.

As I sit here eating my chips and hummus, it occurs to me that one of the basic precepts of philosophy - that is, questioning your reality - is dangerous business. There's a goodly chance that challenging the very foundations of a thing you deeply care about will damage the thing directly, or at the very least, your relationship with the thing. Much like Douglas Adams reasoned that asking for proof of God would deny faith, and God, being nothing without faith, would thereby be destroyed, if I pose a question like "How could anyone not like me?" I have just supplied such a reason.

Similarly, raising a question like "How much cash have you blown on video games?" is immediately threatening to your pursuit of the hobby -- even the hobby itself. For in taking myself to task on the matter of yesterday's proposal, I have estimated that I (or, rather, all those who I've coerced into buying me specific gifts) have spent in upwards of $9K on games, not including peripheral merchandise like action figures and soundtracks, or subscriptions to game-related publications.

I suppose that, in the end, it goes without saying that I (and most probably everyone reading this column) will not be giving up games anytime soon. But when you're as sorely strapped for cash as I am, it really does force you to reconsider how you blow your time and funding. Most of tonight's contributors have racked up figures that'd give them good start on DigiPen tuition, although obviously if we hadn't played all these games we probably wouldn't even know or care what DigiPen is.

That said, there's not much left for me to say tonight, so I'll meet you at Closing Comments.

...

Oh, fine. I'll hang around for the interim. Just don't expect me socialize with your bonehead friends.

Let's go.

Nothing if not thorough

Fraulein Mehlos:

It seriously bothers me that you've asked this question. I don't want to think about how much I've spent. But, for curiosity's sake, let's try and find out, shall we?

I used to work for a small, locally-owned video game store (new & used, Atari on up, you know the type of place). I still have all the reciepts for everything I ever bought from there, because I'm a pack rat. Having scanned through the pile, the total comes out to around $3500. This includes things like 2 Neo Geo Pockets (a black and white, and a color; both Japanese)... a Game Boy Light (the sw33t backlit ones from Japan)... a stack of Saturn games (all the great Working Designs games, Panzer Dragoon Saga, Street Fighter Zero 3 import, and more)... some mistakes, too, like Legend of Mana. *shrugs*

Now, I currently own a PS2 and a GCN... several games for each... that's $1000 right there. And of course, I bought a Dreamcast on launch day (with Soul Caliber and a controller and a VMU).. that's $300... Oh, and the controllers for GCN and PS2, and the memory cards... tack on another $200. Oh, and I bought a dual shock back in the day.. had to get a controller, and a mem card... and modded it... Let's call it $200. Game Boy Advance, Mario Kart, Golden Sun, Dodgebal, F-Zero, Breath of Fire. $300.

And being the collector that I am, I have 3 top-loading NES systems (one is unopened!)... and right around 400 NES games. A SNES (and every decent RPG made for it except Breath of Fire 2, which I can never find anywhere but Ebay) A Genesis (with shrikwrapped copy of Phantasy Star 4). A Sega CD. An X-Eye. Turbo Grafx 16 (Keith Courage rocks!). A Master System (yes, I have Phantasy Star, the only game worth owning on that godawful system). I have 6 Atari 2600s (three of which work). 2 Odyssey^2s (I have the Voice adapter, and all but 1 American-release game, Power Lords). Still have my old-skool Game Boy and my GBC. And even a Neo Geo (I paid $500 for it and 14 games). 2 Nomads, a Game Gear, and a Lynx.

Good God, I won't even think about what I've spent on my PC; the Geforce 3 Ti 500 cost $350 alone. For the record, I'm not independently wealthy - I'm 20, and I just work my arse off while attending college... Adding up just what I mentioned here, the total comes out to $6000ish. And I know it's probably double that. Sad thing is, I really don't play games that much, I just have an addiction to collecting them, lol. Smash Brothers and Final Fantasy 2/4 could keep me occupied until the day I die. :-) Anyway, that's my two cents... or thousands of dollars.

--SoulSabre... "Off course!"

I don't know what's more disturbing; the fact that you own six Atari 2600 units, or the fact that you owned a Sega CD and JVC's X-Eye....

Then fear the Peacekeeper

When I look over my pile of systems, attempting to calculate the damages to my .. no, let's be fair .. the damages to the wallets of my beloved parents over the years from before my self sufficient rise to consumerdom, I can't help but get caught up on that one fact that the $240 spent on a copy of Wario Land and the then-new Virtual Boy just makes it feel like all the rest of it doesn't even matter, so great is the sorrow my soul is caused.

-Hojo (Who screams at the sight of black and red to this day)

While I can't honestly say I have any real feelings of remorse about not owning a VB, there is a definite collectible side to games, and a failed piece of shite of which there are undoubtedly fewer such as the VB is definitely collectible if you want to look at things from that particular perspective. It just sucks you paid full price for it.

Where the hell do you start?

Erin,

Jeez louise, when I saw what today's topic was, I knew I had to write.

Take it back a few years. 1997 was a grand year for me and videogame purchases. In an attempt to fill some sort of void that had apparently grown in my soul over time, I made it my ultimate goal to purchase as many videogame systems, and games as I could. Up until this point, I had a fairly nice collection: an NES, SNES, Genesis and Sega Saturn (and of course an errant 2600 floated around my house somewhere). They provided plenty of love so I wouldn't say I needed to buy more because they weren't fulfilling my gaming desires. I was just sick.

So, in the year 1997 I purchased: a used Sony Playstation ($90 with an extra controller and Die Hard Trilogy), a Panasonic 3DO ($30 with an extra controller and 18 games), a Turbo Grafx 16 ($30), a Virtual Boy ($25 with five $5 games. I still think Galactic Pinball rocks), an Atari Jaguar ($30 and I still think I paid too much), a used Sega CD ($18) and not one, not two, but THREE Sega 32X add-ons ($15, $10 and $10 respectively. The damn things had a habit of breaking quite easily.).

And let us not forget the games to go along with each system! My God, was it a sick sick year, I was so pale from not going outside I must have been freaking transparent. So much gaming to be had, where the hell do you start?!

Since then I've also acquired a Dreamcast and an N64. I can honestly say that my gaming has cost me well beyond a few thousand. This shit's like crack. But hey, at least I didn't buy most of the systems (especially the 32X, Virtual Boy and Panasonic 3DO) at FULL PRICE. Then I would just cry.

- Purple Monkey Dishwasher

Certainly if you can hold off on a console purchase until after the platform's gone under (historically not too great an exercise of endurance in SEGA's particular case), you can get a lot more bang for your buck, as it were. For anyone who couldn't afford a Saturn -- now's the time to head on over to eBay. They're going cheap.

Sin #8

Erin:

How much? Too much, probably. But it has always been worth it. Now and then, I take stock of the costs and benefits, and I figure if I can get 50 (good, fun) hours out of a game, then I'm spending better money than if I were to buy a ton of books (which I also do), or go see a movie each weekend (there's that, too), or smoke (ouch) or any number of other things.

The cool thing about video games is that, like collectible card games (though not to the extent), you can occasionally resell the old or unwanted parts of your collection to purchase a few free months of gaming. Yeah, that's the stuff.

Besides, I've got the time, money, and the desire. What else am I going to do with all that? Hit the gym? I'm opposed to sweat on principle.

--DarkLao

There are certainly worse things to blow your money on than games to be sure -- like blackjack ... and hookers. Your point is significantly emphasized when you break it down like this:

Lesser of two evils

I have spent ridiculous sums of money between my several generations of consoles. I justify it using the basic fundamentals of microeconomics. If I ignore the fact that I'm subjected to the whims of the unwashed masses when attending, I enjoy going to the movies. A matinee for an average length 2 hour movie in my area goes for $4.50(being in the middle of nowhere has it's benefits). Therefore, I'm willing to pay $2.25 an hour to be entertained. A fifty dollar game need only entertain me for more than 22.2 hours, a forty dollar game for ~18, and a twenty dollar game for ~9 hours. Individually, it may not always work out to my economic surplus(the Saturn and panzer dragoon saga were extravagant, but one has to have something in their collection to lord over everyone else), but on the average I certainly come out ahead. At least that's what I tell my man, aka sugar daddy.

My shot at a topic: Have you ever used a gameshark or such to enjoy an otherwise un-playable game? I found it helpful getting through the woefully disappointing Koudelka and the tedious parts of parasite eve 2. On the other hand, my first exposure to ff VII was marred by the use of one; I returned to it only after I fell in love with VIII; and found that the fun lay in the journey from small time to demi-god status. I should also point out, Chrono Trigger, my personal favorite, is a marvel of game design because it still manages to challenge a gamer even when cheats are used.

Brentron
whose boyfriend would rather wait and pay for the dvd than hear "post adolescent breeders" discussing the finer points of computer generated breasts during FF:TSW

It's been awhile since I've attended a movie for less than $7.50 - so if a game provides me with 50 hours of entertainment for under $187 I'm doing well.

Trickle-down -- backwards

Behold, the bloody poodle offering laid before the Almighty Erin-sama. Even in death, it cowers before her...

Alright, I just counted up all the games I own plus accessories, and the total is about $4,000

8 PS2 Games
40 PS1 Games
PS1 Console
PS2 Console
SNES
3 SNES games (at 60$ a piece)
N64
4 N64 Games
(This doesn't list accesories. Way to many to account for)

Maybe not a whole lot compared to some, but that only counts the stuff I bought personally. Of course, I couldn't buy any of that stuff personally until I had a job at the tender age of 17. Before then, it all depended on the generosity of my parents. But then again, when we were all getting into gaming, wasn't it our parents who fueled our hunger?

Little did they know that the money we now can spend on games is enough to hire 7 high-priced Hollywood hookers at the same time. But hey, maybe all our money is being used by the video game companies to hire hookers. (So that's why Nobuo Uematsu comes to America so often...)

Maybe they should have started leaving marijuana under the tree for Christmas. Smoking pot is a lot cheaper than being a gamer these days...

The one and only J.C.

"That's not a massager."
Asuka - GTA 3

So you're saying that, indirectly, our gaming buck does go towards blackjack and hookers. Take solace, then, people, that you're supporting not one, but two entertainment industries struggling to justify their places in the modern scheme of things.

The finer points of leechery

Hi Erin,

This is a very tough subject for me. First there's the amount of money I've used on games myself. I figure it comes out to around $600+. Then there's my parents' money spent on games. I'll have to scan my collection to get a good amount.

*scanning*
*scanning*
*scanning*

$2500 for all my console games (NES, SNES, N64, Dreamcast), $1000 for all my handheld games (GB, GBC, GBA, Neo Geo Pocket Color), and $1000 for hardware (Consoles, handheld, controllers, memory cards, etc). Well shit on a shingle and call me Abraham Lincoln, that's almost $5000. As Tofu would say, "I am the man!"

If there's a lesson to this, it's "Bugging your parents to buy you stuff can really work sometimes."

-Rune "15 years old and a gamer for more than half his life"

PS: If it's any consolation to gamers with smaller collections, my mom sold my NES and all its games at a garage sale while I was taking a piss and I still don't own any next-gen consoles.

Well, my boy. Bugging your parents to buy you stuff must not work as well as you purport if you don't yet own a next-gen console.

Opportunity cost

Hello Erin,

$ 150 spent on an original Game Boy and accessories circa 1990
900 spent on Game Boy games (30 x $30)
100 spent on a used Sega Game Gear
180 spent on Game Gear games (6 x $30)
150 spent on a Playstation (in 1997)
100 spent on Playstation memory cards, controller
3000 spent on Playstation games (60 x $50)
200 spent on a Dreamcast (sadly, before the prices dropped)
30 spent on a Dreamcast VMU
250 spent on Dreamcast games (5 x $50)
300 spent on a Playstation 2
70 spent on Playstation 2 memory cards
800 spent on Playstation 2 games (16 x $50)
150 spent on a Game Boy Advance and accessories
240 spent on Game Boy Advance games (6 x $40)
450 spent on many game guidebooks (because I'm a wimp) (30 x $15)

____

$ 7070 total

You can add another $800 to the total if you count about 25 imported Japanese game music CDs.

Of course, this isn't adjusted for inflation and doesn't include tax. I'll leave those calculations for people with lots more time on their hands than I have. I'm sure there are many other readers here who have spent much more than me; however, the above total doesn't include the $10,000 in tuition and room & board I wasted on that semester in college I flunked because I was too busy playing video games...

-Ken

Alas, I am not among those people - I have homework to do. And envelope art. Because it's come to my attention that I stand to make enough sideline cash entering and winning envelope art contests and selling whatever crappy NASCAR prize I'm rewarded with on eBay to add a few more titles to my own roster.

Senseless spending or sensible car?

I'm thirty-one.. and I don't know if that makes me one of your oldest readers.. but I do know I've crammed in twenty years worth of gaming on various platforms starting with Dragon 32 (Don't know if anybody knows what they were outside the UK, but they were a bit like a Tandy CoCo if that helps) through Atari, Sega Megadrive/CD/Gamegear/Saturn/Dreamcast, Nintendo SNES/N64/Gameboy, Sony PS/PS2, oh.. and PC's.

I reckon I've spent around 10,000 sterling ($14,125 US dollars) on hardware and software in that time - although in the UK we generally pay a lot more for goods than you lot in the US do.

Let's see, a trip to Yahoo! autos... wow! a brand new Chevrolet coupe! We don't have those in the UK - are they any good?

What really worries me is that I'm now at the upper end of the target age bracket for games consoles (Unless you count Nintendo, I'm already waaay too old for their stuff). I hope I'm not going to be embarrasing my Grandchildren playing FFVII over and over again on my PS and waxing lyrical: "The playstation, now _there_ was a games console, non of your 4-d immersive reality engines here, thankyou very much".

I hope Software houses are going to take into account as time goes on that the people who caught the first wave of the video game revolution are now at least in their thirties and getting older - FF8 was a real turn off for me because it basically put you in the shoes of a stroppy teenager, and I can't identify with a character like that. I just wanted to smack some sense into Squall. I don't want to remember what being a teenager was like - once was enough.

. oh, oh dear, I sound like an old fart, don't I?

-----
NickA

While I wouldn't say a Chevy coupe is quite sex on wheels, I'd certainly take one rather than continue driving my '90 Mirage. The rattle from my CV joints has begun to alert dark shadowy figures lurking in various alleyways to my passing.

However, if I were Red Raven....

Vroom vroom dollar

EM,

Oh? Interesting...give me a minute.

Hmmm...

...oh...uh...

...that can't be right...um...

...yeah...I...I...yeah...

..oh my God, SWEET FUCKING JESUS CHRIST!! WHAT THE FUCK?! WHAT WAS I THINKING?!!

...

Oh well.

-Red "Lamborghini Diablo" Raven

P.S. http://www.autopictures.com/diablo/index24.html

... I could blow past such thuggish shades in style, man.

PSX...$100; FFX, GT3, Z.O.E., SSX Tricky...$200; Being able to laugh and point at N*Sync fans ... Priceless.

Erin,

Let's start with consoles, then the PC for my total cost.(I'll do it by year too, if I can)

Consoles:
Nintendo Entertainment System(1989..I got it late): $100
10 NES Games: $450
1 Mint Copy of Final Fantasy on Ebay: $75

Super Nintendo System(1993):$100
3 Squaresoft Games: $150
10 Vrious Others: $500


N64(1997):$150
4 Games: $200

PS1(1999..mainly bought it of FF8): $100
FF8, FF9, Chrono Cross, DW7, FFChronicles, FFAnthology,
GT2: $325

PS2(2002):$275 (yay ebay!!)
FFX, GT3, Z.O.E., SSX Tricky: $200

PCs:(1997-2002):$3500 in parts since my lovely college days. Nothing like building your own box than having to deal with DELL stamped on it.
FF7, Diablo 1,2, Baldur's Gate 1,2, Starcraft, Quake(ahh the days), Dungeon Keeper(try this if you haven't): $320
Dark Age of Camelot: $40 + 10 + 10 + 10 + 10 (i imagine it'll keep going).

Total Cost: $6525 That's a downpayment on a BMW 330ci 5 year lease. DAMMIT. And that's what I can rememeber..it could be more.

But at least I can say I've spent over 6 grand in games, but not even a nickel for N'Sync tickets. [shudder]

--lee

Yes, there is always that.

New age goddess

Erin,

Cash I've blown? Oh dear lord, it's a topic so near and dear to my grubby little gaming heart that I simply must write in and share my shame with someone else.

I started in on this addiction called 'Gaming' at a relatively old age, well beyond those tender college years when procrastination practically demands the computer lab suck away valuable time otherwise spent in the fruitless pursuit of knowledge. Sure, I'd had brushes with a mysterious grey thing a friend called the 'Playstation', but they were brief and consisted mainly of my eyeing Tekken with dismay whilst two grown men used bubble-breasted females to kick each other virtually. Content they, and anyone else foolish enough to be sucked in, were morons, I went on my way.

And then I got married. My husband, damn him eternally, introduced me to his ancient and battle-scarred Super Nintendo in which was nearly permanently lodged the lauded Chrono Trigger. I played through it in a marathon 26 hours. Secret of Mana fell, Final Fantasy II and III crumbled beneath my newest addiction... and then I rediscovered the Playstation. It's been down hill from there.

We own every system from the original Nintendo onward without bias for name brand or country. We own too many games to count, and often draw some forgotten thing from the back cupboard, blow off the dust, and then exclaim something very much like 'Hey, did you know we owned this?'. We both have good jobs, so the strictures of money that younger people have do not touch us as they might otherwise, and so $200 dropped over the weekend at the local EB is not an uncommon event.

So, how much money have I dropped in only the last few years? More than I care to admit and, ultimately, less than I'll probably end up spending next year alone. I curse the bastards for releasing two gaming systems at once.

Laurelle

Holy shit, woman. I'm making you my very own personal deity from here on out, to look to in times of doubt and financial ruin. You shall be the model for how I live my life from this moment forward, to remind me, when the going gets rough, what it's all about.

Since I've contributed so little to tonight's scintillating discussion, as an added bonus I'll give you a few of the staff's estimates as to their own losses for your comparative pleasure:

Ray - Between $15 and $20K
JT - Between $10 and 20K
Nate - $11K (Including other game-related pursuits, Nate's grand total exceeded $32K)
Alex - $10.8K
Nich - $10.2K

Now, moving right along into regions compromising of my principles....

The unavoidable

Agent!

I can't begin to tell you how much I rejoice at the news of the strengthening possibilities of getting further SaGa and Chrono goodness. I've just finished replaying the two previous Chrono games, and I was just thinking about how much I'd like the series to continue. As for SaGa, I'm glad that Square isn't letting such paltry things as the fact that everyone except a shy-but-devoted minority hates SaGa games make them kill off their second-oldest franchise. Sure, I gave up on SaGa Frontier II in the final dungeon like all the other sane players, but it was damn fun getting that far.

That being said... don't you think with all the money and people going into things like FFXI that they cold just hire a third-grader to think of a better name than "Unlimited SaGa?" And apparently, as a few eagle-eyed people have pointed out, the name "Chrono Brake" is registered in Japan while "Chrono Break" got the trademark in the US. Whassupwitdat?

-Toma Levine

Yes, Chrono Brake is registered in Japan, Chrono Break in the US, and yes, the letters regarding the new Chrono game, whatever you want to call it, have started to roll in. So....

Closing Comments:

All right! I vowed not to do Square for awhile; but you guys aren't subtle in expressing your desired direction of discussion. I'll just have to settle for staying away from FF.

Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross' titles each had relevance to their respective storylines. If I rightly recall, they said something in the third grade about "brake" and "break" meaning slightly different things -- the title's very contradiction gets me to speculating. So while making a topic out of a game in such a fetal state of being may same premature, it'll be interesting to hear what you readers care to divine about this third game before the emergence of any concrete details, as well as your hopes & dreams for the Chrono scion.

- Erin Mehlos

 
Recent Columns  
01.28.02
01.27.02
01.26.02
Double Agent Archives
Chrono Crisis? Chrono Crash? Chrono Break? Awww.