Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Cost of Doing Pleasure

The more I get into video games, the more I realize how cheap I am (okay, I've always realized this, it's just becoming more prevalent). It is an expensive hobby to have what with the consoles (you can't have just one), games, accessories, memberships, DLC (downloadable content), etc. Honestly, this is how I first got into casual gaming. Why buy games when there are hours of entertainment available for free on the internet? No, I'm not talking about porn. Sure this side-hobby landed me a great and convenient freelance writing job at (my latest work can be seen here), but it hasn't tempered my desire for 'real' video games.

Literally all the coins out of my wallet.
My main solution to the problem is to just not buy video games. This pretty much sucks as I then feel left in the dust and have to do a lot of internet research and watch gameplay clips to make up for this. It doesn't help because watching someone play something is not nearly as much fun as doing it yourself. If someone says they don't mind watching you while you play, either they don't actually like video games or they're lying to you and indeed do want to participate.

The other solution that I've tended to follow is to lag behind the times. By this I mean to wait awhile (usually 1-2 years) before buying a game so you can get it for a lot cheaper than when it's a new release. I did this with my copy of Diablo II. I got the Battle Chest for $25 on Ebay, about two years after the release. Now, I did get to play this game closer to when it was brand new thanks to my brother borrowing it from a friend, but, of course, I had to own it cause it's just awesome. I plan on doing this same method for Rock Band 3, which on Amazon I'm finding is dropping slowly toward $45, about 1/3 the original cost. It's currently 1 1/2 years old and I've never actually played it (I don't think), but considering how many hours I've put into the first one, I know I'll love this as well. This method suffers from the same issues as the first one, except you eventually get to own the game.

Ooh, I can't wait!
The final solution is the one I hate the most. It's what I like to call 'Just Suck It Up'. This means just buying the game full price right when it's released. It makes me cringe and I hate it, but some games you just have to have. The last game I did this to was Green Day Rock Band since my husband's such a big fan of theirs. And the next game I may buy at release is Diablo III, but I'm still debating it. I'm not saying this way isn't worth the money you spend, it just makes the miser in me holler in pain.

I'm in no way trying to state that I do things the right way nor do I regret indulging my video gaming need the way I have when I have. I just wanted to lay out the way I see this hobby with my frugal eyes. I say your best bet may be to just have friends who enjoy video games as much as you and are generous enough to gift them to you for your birthday. I mean, why else do you have them? Your World of Warcraft guild doesn't count unless they send you real life gifts, then that's cool.

(Systems I own that I paid for: Xbox 360, SNES)
(Systems I own that I didn't pay for: DS, Wii, GameCube, Xbox)
(System I'm currently on the hunt for: PS2)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

This Game is Rated Aarrrgh!

Piracy. It's often brought up in relation to music and movies. And especially nowadays it's almost all digital piracy (my husband did unknowingly buy a pirated DVD set of GTO). What I never thought would have existed was pirated game cartridges. That's right, I'm talking about people out there selling fake copies of licensed games, specifically, for the GameBoy Advance. What I'm not talking about are unlicensed games for a system as was common in the NES days (this being games that were developed, released and sold as their own work, but not licensed by Nintendo to be sold for the system).

This almost fooled me.
This is a game I purchased recently from Ebay (the image is what the seller uploaded). Why Naruto Ninja Council? Well, while I'm not familiar with the series, I am a manga/anime fan, so I thought I'd give it a try.

This has most of the elements that are part of a real GameBoy Advance game:  the title, ESRB Rating, the Nintendo seal of quality, the developer's logo and the serial code. At a cursory glance (which is all it got from me when I placed the bid) it seems legitimate. So what is it missing? Well, all GBA games also have a Licensed by Nintendo logo on it. Sure this seems like a lot of information to require on such a small cartridge (about 2"x1"), but as I see it, this just makes it easier for us to point out the fakes!

The real deal.

Here we have a picture (again taken from Ebay) of the actual cartridge. As you can see, it looks different! Whereas the real cartridge has a fire background, the forger used a picture of the main character, Naruto, perhaps in an attempt to make it seem legitimate. Of course, the actual cartridge has the Licensed by Nintendo logo, but do you notice something else? The serial code! While AGB (the code for the system) and USA (the code for the region) are always the same, the four letters in the middle will differ from game to game. Though if you're a forger, I suppose it's easier to just bang your fist on the keyboard and go for something random.

Alright, well if I haven't yet bored you to death with details on the fake game I bought (and then returned) from Ebay, maybe you'd like to hear about the actual game. I did play it for about 10 minutes. I had already determined it was fake, but was curious to see if it actually worked. Well, it did. Admittedly, this was to be my first GBA game, so I'm not up to speed as to the system's game standard, but it seemed like an okay action platformer (run around, defeat enemies). I probably won't try to buy it again, but I also wouldn't be against owning it for reals.

Overall, I'd say this was an interesting and educational experience! That is, for a game geek like me who cares about this stuff . . . Who knows, maybe someone out there reading this will discover a pirated gem on their game shelf.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why Blog?

I enjoy writing, really I do, so why do I have such a hard time blogging?  Well, I think I just haven't tried the right subject matter.  I need something that I enjoy very much, work at constantly and that will allow me to expand my venues of creativity.  That's why I've chosen video games.

Nothing better than an evening with a game manual.
I'm sure some of you are thinking "Ugh, video games?  Come on, I want to support you in your endeavors, but I just have zero interest in the subject matter."  Well, I can't do much for you now, but I have plans in the future to expand what I offer on this blog, so maybe later on I can lure you back.  And if only the handful of my friends who are at least mildly interested in video games reads this, well at least I'll have a portfolio of written work on hand.  That's right, I don't care if you follow this!  (okay, I care a little)

I look forward to working hard on this blog and I hope you look forward to seeing what I come up with!!!