I was born, am, and likely always will be cheap. It's in my nature. In the same way that people like to say that their job is in their blood, or the way that they tie their shoes, or the ritual they follow as they get ready for bed in just the right (DON'T INTERRUPT ME!) way, I am cheap.
I never felt a single pang of guilt or remorse about my cheapness until I started diving deeper into the world of video games and their development. Like any other industry, you scrape at the surface a bit and underneath--not even too far down--there are people there. People with lives and families who produce games because it's the path that they've chosen; the way they put bread on their tables. I used to be, and still am to an extent, a follower of CheapAssGamer.com. If you haven't been to this site you should take a gander: it's a collection of some of the cheapest people you'll ever meet (not that you would have been led astray by the title) and they get together for the single purpose of getting the best deal on videogames that they possibly can.
Until a few months ago, when I fell hard for Dtoid and began to follow videogames as a scene including development, production and the oozing gallons of drama inbetween, I was one of these Cheapies, and damn proud of it. Then one day I had a revelation: I paid full price for Mass Effect 2.
The first Mass Effect was a steal that I picked up from Gamestop (BOO / HISS) for a meager $10. It was a no-brainer, given the reviews and the chance to play around in a sci-fi world as rich as ME's, so I grabbed my copy for the low, low price of stale, tasteless panini from a Starbucks. Mass Effect turned out to be the kind of rich and story-driven game that I had always hoped was waiting in the wings of someone's thoughts on how videogames should be developed.
I loved everything about it (maybe not Mako) and as the credits rolled, was eagerly anticipating a sequel. The weeks leading up to ME2 were painful for me. Everywhere, without fail, was a little hint of ME2. They even played a commercial during halftime of the Super Bowl! Everytime I saw a new piece of ME2 deliciousness, it tweaked me a bit inside. The beauty, the wonder, the alien sex! I decided I must have this game and couldn't wait for it to drop to my usual preapproved level of cheap.
My conscience, though, streaked through and through with traditional Germanic ideals of utility and frugality, required more convincing. I began to argue with myself over why exactly I needed this game, specifically, when I have over 30 in my current backlog (along with the sin of cheapness, I also regularly commit the sin of collectorism). I ran myself through argument after argument about Value:Time ratios ("Look how much cheaper it is than going to see a movie!" I said to myself) and the advantage of having a new copy so I wouldn't have to pay for the damned Cerberus Network DLC. But in the end, I settled on a much different argument that still satisfies me, and hopefully will do so for the rest of my game-purchasing life: I'm paying to keep an experience that I love alive and well.
I wish I could say that I believed that one day a Utopia would emerge where people would sit around and create games solely for the goodness and enjoyment of the endeavor, copying them for others to share a sense of child-like wonder at this world that they have so lovingly crafted. I'll be honest: I'm a little skeptical. Until then, you need to vote with the almighty dollar and make your voice heard to developers and publishers about what makes you tick. We're blessed and cursed to live in a time that engenders fast, cheap, universal communication in a way we've never seen before, and would be silly to let that go to waste.
Let them know what we want, and do it with your wallet, or we're doomed to live out the rest of our days playing [INSERT MOVIE-BASED GAME HERE THAT SUCKED] forever. I don't plan on doing this, and so I spend. If you don't do it for me, please think of the economy.
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