Affordability of Video Games – The Fine Balance of Time, Money and Energy

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Is it just me, or is everything getting expensive nowadays? Skyrocketing inflation seems to affect general affordability. While I’ve noticed this kind of thing affecting groceries, gas, and other services, video games seemed to stick to their eighty-dollar (sixty-dollar for the folks in the U.S.) price tag. It makes things harder to come by overall, since income usually isn’t tied to inflation. While there are exceptions to this rule, that is the broadly acceptable full price for major releases. Interestingly enough, I’ve come across a problem when buying games. I often find myself asking: “can I afford this game?” 

In my case, that question used to be evident; it had to do with money. Very recently, however, I began subconsciously implementing other factors relating to affordability. Once I asked myself: what kind of paradigm shift did I go through? Life is complicated, and it only seems to be getting more so the older I get. Today, I’d like to dive into the surprisingly loaded question of affordability relating to video games.

Financial Affordability

I’ll get the obvious out of the way right off the bat. The first question I ask when a game’s got my curiosity is, “am I financially stable enough to buy it?”. Over the years, I’ve had to stagger purchases for big games since eighty dollars is a high asking price. Things being as pricey as they are with no sign of dropping means that an eighty-dollar investment has to be for something I will, hopefully, thoroughly enjoy.

Time Affordability

When I asked that question, I began to think that there are more things to consider when committing to purchasing a game. It was this point that prompted me to write this article. In my case, having a family to take of means I have to consider how much time I have to play a game when purchasing one. There are so many open-world games that I would love to play more. The sad reality is that with life and other games coming into play, it isn’t possible to fit every game I have my eyes on. That said, it did make me appreciate finely crafted shorter experiences.

Energy Affordability

For clarity’s sake: when I speak of Energy Affordability, I am talking about how much concentration and commitment I can give to a game. This includes: mastering the mechanics, getting past roadblocks, having the patience to get specific loot, etc. Before I began writing this article, I had never considered that point. As I saw the word formulate on screen, it began to creep up on me that I dropped certain games I liked because I didn’t have the energy to best the proverbial “wall” in front of me.

The Old Favorites

In my case, I always have a handful of games I tend to gravitate towards when I’m in certain moods. I open up No Man’s Sky when I want to gather resources or build bases. Monster Hunter is my current action game fixation, and Shadowverse is the game I play daily to make me feel smart (at least for a little bit). There are a bunch of games I sprinkle in the interim (Nintendo Switch Sports is one such game at the time of writing) to give me a bit of a break. It’s much more difficult for me to latch on to games like I did a long time ago.

The Time, Money, and Energy Triangle

Something I learned back in my early to mid-20s is what people call the Time, Money, and Energy Triangle. This is the idea that at any point in a person’s life, they only have access to two of the points mentioned above in the triangle. From childhood to young adulthood, people tend to have more time and energy to commit to things but little money. As they enter adulthood (beginning in their 30s), money starts to come in, and they still have a good amount of energy, but time is now what they seem to lack, as it is devoted to their career or life. Finally, older people now have money from their jobs and time since they are now retired, but things become more laborious since they don’t have the same energy level anymore.

That thought always stuck in my mind, almost as a joke. As I got older, I realized that it is true. There are so many games I’d love to play and things I’d like to do that, given the lack of time, I have to pass up. At first, I felt frustrated that this was something I always had to consider. After much meditation and thinking, I began to get comfortable with it. Things I never thought I would enjoy as a child are now things I consume daily (jazz being a prominent example). When I was a kid, my mom would always tell me to slow down. I never understood why she kept telling me that… until I had a kid of my own.

Closing Thoughts

What started as an interesting point I noticed with my game acquisition habits turned into a moment of introspection. It makes me believe that things are expensive now on a financial level and are also demanding on a person’s time and energy. Life experiences and age gave me a new perspective on many things: time, money, and energy. While I still love video games, I have to justify some of my purchases and reevaluate the kind of games I enjoy. Is this wisdom, or is this what it’s like to get older? The passage of time has a funny way of changing our perspectives, one of them being what games I can afford. 

One thought on “Affordability of Video Games – The Fine Balance of Time, Money and Energy

  1. I pretty much will only buy a game now if it is on sale – and I also have to consider how much time I might have available to devote to a new adventure. Do I have an extra 40-60 hours to play a big RPG when I could be working on freelance projects and making money?? It’s a tricky balance!

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