Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Value of Gaming Patience

If you pay any attention to the little XBox Live doohickey posted alongside this blog, you'll likely have noticed that I'm almost never engaged in playing the latest and greatest XBox 360 games.  As I write this, I'm still working my way through Bioware's excellent sci-fi RPG Mass Effect, while all of the cool kids are gearing up for Mass Effect 2.

Part of this is because the blog consumes much of my available gaming time.  Playing, writing, research and editing all take time away from trying out the new stuff.  I still consider it gaming time, because it's directly related to my hobby, and I certainly don't begrudge the effort it takes to do this.  But it's an inhibiting factor when I'm staring a brand new, 40-hour game in the face that may take me several months to tackle.

But as my free time has become more limited over the years, I've also realized that a little patience makes it easier to be picky and focus on the high-quality experiences, and also makes my gaming a lot cheaper. 

See, I could have paid $60 for Mass Effect when it came out, then bought the additional downloadable chapters for $10 apiece.  I have no doubt I would have gotten $90 worth of entertainment out of the experience.  But as it turned out, I paid $20 for a new copy of the Platinum Edition, with the DLC content included, thereby saving myself no little cash.  I didn't necessarily pocket that extra money --during the holidays, when I had some extra time for games, I picked up Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts for $10, Raiden Fighters for $15, and Shadow Complex for $10 (normally $15 on XBLA.)

Were any of these games hurt by the delay?  Well, it's very difficult to get an 8-player Banjo-Kazooie race going on XBLA, because nobody seems to be playing it online anymore, if they ever did.  So the multiplayer-related achievements for that title will likely remain out of reach.  But I am still enjoying all of these games -- the technology is still current, the games are still worthwhile, and playing them "late" doesn't damage my own experience in any measurable way.

The economics also apply to retro gaming -- while a few rare titles are pricey and hard to come by, most vintage games can be had now for considerably less than their original retail price.  Some quality computer titles have been released into the public domain by their authors for no-cost enjoyment, and downloadable channels provide many classic games at reasonable prices.

And there's still satisfaction in finally getting around to acquiring that great game or system I never tracked down during its heyday.  Lots of great stuff is still out there, waiting. 

Personally, I know that someday I will buy that arcade-quality Neo-Geo console -- the one that taunted me with its $600 price tag and $200 games back in 1989. 

Mostly because I already have several cartridges for it, still new in the box.  $30 each on closeout.

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