Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Ghost Ranger - Gaming on a Budget/Growing up as a Gamer


This is a topic I have been going over in my head for quite awhile that does not need much explaining. Much like the metaphor for life, playing video games is something we all have to do on a budget whether that is a budget of money, time, or energy/interest. Now, my only question is, what does it mean to you and how does that change? I will also take this change to tell my history of gaming. Click "read more" and let's go over it.

Gaming As a Kid

I'm gonna be using my own story as an example so this may not directly reflect you, but I like to think my story is not uncommon. (I cannot speak for rich kids who got whatever they want.) 

As a Kid - Limited Library

Most kids in my area grew up with Mario and Nintendo, but I was a Sega kid. At least as a little kid. Too young to have any say in what games were available or to really understand the technology, but really fascinated. My first real video game was the original Sonic The Hedgehog; I could not read, did not understand the character or world at all, but whenever I was allowed to play I kept going, kept dying, and never complained. At this stage, I suppose video games were just a cooler toy but not my whole world. So, thinking back, I guess all it meant to me was one of many fun luxuries when I was hyper and carefree. 

Time goes on, enter the next generation. Only had roughly 10 games for the genesis due to being a kid with no money and that trend continued into the next generation. Had PS1, half a dozen games but no memory card, then the system broke on my brothers and I. Never was able to get a Sega Saturn, so the N64 dominated those few years. We only really had Pokemon and Mario Party as big name games, the rest were bargain bin stuff. So, once again the library was limited. Both generations were the same story, little kids with few games that we played repeatably and appreciated greatly.

As an older kid & Teenager

This is the prime time of my gaming history. We got a Sega Dreamcast twice, played it as long as we could before it was gone. Then, the Playstation 2 which dominated the bulk of older childhood. Now, the budget started to shift, we had a little less time with school and homework, but money was shifting. Birthdays, Christmas, or just earning it, now we could finally expand our gaming library. I do not think I have ever got as many games new as I did during the PS2 era. While my brothers and I also had a GameCube and Xbox, the PS2 was dominant and we were burning through games. During this era, I began to understand franchises, specific developers, and was rapidly beating/discovering new games. While my brothers and I were very possessive with games that we owned as opposed to being bought for all of us, we still shared games which only increased the library experience. Video Games were not nearly as long back then, but still a complete experience. I miss this time greatly, when games were my favorite hobby and there was no regret.

Going into teenage years, things shifted again. My brothers and I still shared space, but our interests began to separate as optioned opened up. The budget of money and time had not changed much, but as PC gaming became more available and games taking longer to beat, the way I gamed changed.  Still, the love of gaming did not change, but the time investment increased and the variety of what I experienced lessoned. Now, there was an increase in both time and money that was required which would continue into the next generation.

As a Young Adult Till Now

Entering young adulthood, the budgets set the standards. The PS4 was the first modern console I bought for myself without anyone's help and it became my primary gaming machine for years. As I got older, my free time shrank but I had income now. Still I found myself playing only a few games for weeks as so many were huge and required a lot of grinding. 

Skipping ahead till now, I have all the systems I want and a huge pile of games to chose from. But, a lot of them I never touch and they just do not mean as much to me. I used to be at least familiar with the bulk of my collection, now I cannot remember what I do and do not have. While I still enjoy gaming greatly, it has become more of an escape for me and the time to enjoy them is less every year. Now, I game mostly by myself, with the occasional friend joining in and finishing a game has become almost a burden as it means I have to find another one to pass the time. If my younger self could only enjoy what I have now.

I cannot image what I will be like as an old man as far as gaming goes. Most likely I will not be able to keep up with the technology, but I cannot see myself ever completely losing interest. Maybe I will only watch let's plays, or stick to the old school stuff. Now, I am forced to think of the tough question, when is it time to sell the collection? Passing them onto kids is a nice thought, but there is a decent chance they will only want the newest stuff. The thought that I have to give up everything I've collected makes me sad, but so does the fact that so much of it does not get touched for months, even years. So, I would really like to hear from someone else, how has your various budgets effected your enjoyment in gaming and what do you think you will do with your collection when you become too old to enjoy it? Please comment or join our Discord server and we can discuss it. Till next time, this is Cendoo the Ghost Ranger, signing off.

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