Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Video games can be a frugal hobby

It seems like the stereotype of a gamer is someone who has no life outside of their game, sports pale skin from never going outside, and spends all their extra money upgrading equipment or even buying virtual content with physical dollars. Peanut and I play video games -- not something you probably think of as a frugal hobby. I submit to you evidence that gaming is, in fact, a frugal hobby.

First things first, we don't play console games (xbox, playstation, nintendo). Console systems are expensive and so are the games. You beat the games quickly and have to upgrade the systems frequently and buy additional components, like guitars or joysticks or other apparati. Instead, we play PC games. We each have PCs anyway -- I doubt we'll ever be a one-computer household, because Peanut's computer is often tied up with his freelance work so we like to have another to use, or so we can both play games at the same time. Peanut buys all the parts for our computers direct and installs them himself to save additional money, and we don't have super-fancy gaming computers (his work computer is fancy, but our "regular" computers have never been). While it's a splurge to have more than one computer, it's something we'd do anyway, not a direct cost of gaming.

Second, we buy games on sale. Peanut watched Steam (a social network for games and gamers) like a hawk at the end of December and picked up dozens of popular games for a fraction of the cost -- I think all told he spent about $30 and wound up with games that all together will take him years to beat.

Third, the one big game we play most often, GuildWars, is a real commitment. Peanut has played for more than 1,095 hours (or 45 days) over four and a half years. I have played for probably 600 hours (or 25 days) for two and a half years (it's harder to estimate, because my account is an old account of his friend, so the hours played aren't all by me). The storylines and character builds are almost unlimited and the game is a one-time cost -- none of this monthly fee nonsense employed by World of Warcraft. We can play together or separately, or with other people (my sister plays, and we have another friend who plays with us sometimes -- divided by distance, we can hang out, talk, and play together online). We've bought all four existing campaigns (on sale, of course). We've spent about $100 each, so $200 divided by 1,600 hours of gameplay is just under $0.12 per hour. And that cost goes down with each additional hour we play!

Even if computer gaming isn't your thing, $.12 an hour IS a pretty frugal hobby -- there's not much else I can do for that cheaply.

1 comment:

  1. I agree. I used to play this RPG for $10/month. ENDLESSLY!!!!!!! It was so cheap.

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