I can remember it like it was yesterday. It was Christmas 1996 and I was at my grandmother's house opening presents. My uncle brought a present over to the Poplaski kids (there are 4 of us) and said, "This is for you guys". We opened it, and to our surprise and excitement there it sat, a Super Nintendo. Sixteen bits of pure glory with Madden '93 and Madden '96 (my personal favorites), and various other sports games. It was quite the present for us, as we had never really owned a gaming console of any kind. We briefly owned an Atari complete with three games, but a Super Nintendo? Come on now, that was a big deal back then! We never really bought any extra games. We'd always borrow or switch with people which helped us save money. Games were expensive back then. As a family who didn't grow up with much, we tried to save in any way we could so extra games rarely happened. We were happy enough watching the little football player blobs run around and tackle other blobs.
It's 2011 now and gaming consoles can do just about everything except for bake bread for you. I think someone should include a bread machine addition to their next model...whenever that may be. In all seriousness, I look at some of the ways we as Generation Y can cut back on costs and save money, and I look no further than gaming. Don't get me wrong, I love playing video games on occasion. With today's technology, it's fun and easy to get away from every day life and shooting some bad guys or scoring the winning touchdown, creating a dynasty and becoming the next Tim Tebow in the gaming world. I find it amazing how much people can spend on video games these days and wonder why they have no money. Have you ever done the math out to see how expensive video games actually are? It's quite amazing how much is spent on games and gaming consoles.
When I think of gaming consoles, I think of the three newest, and largest sellers of games: Microsoft XBox 360, Sony Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii. Each have their perks, but generally speaking, all of their new games are similar in price ($40-$60). I looked into how much it would cost me to buy a new XBox 360 with two controllers and two games. A brand new XBox 360 complete with one wireless controller would run me somewhere around $300. Let's be honest, you need two controllers so your friends can play with you so tack on an extra $40 ($50 if you want a wireless controller). Now it's time for games. I'll say that I would want to buy two games to start off. You have to have some variety right? I'll admit, I'm a sucker for sports games, and those run generally around $60 bucks. So two games is about $120. Let's stop there for the time being and add everything up. Adding everything together would mean I would have to spend $460 for an initial startup cost. That doesn't even include certain online capabilities (you have to subscribe to XBox Live). That's a substantial chunk of money in my book. To put it into perspective, my college loan payments are somewhere around $300 a month. When all is said and done, that's quite a chunk of cash going towards gaming.
I don't want to come out and say stop gaming and don't spend money on video games, but I would say to track how much you are spending. Is it worth the money you are putting in? What happens when you no longer want the games? One of my friends recently bought a used XBox with four controllers and 40 games for a grand total of...$40...hold on...what? Yes, that's right. He spend $40 on what was once at least $2000 worth of equipment. Remember, someone will always come out with something better and faster than the last version so choose your purchases wisely. If you're going to buy a game, buy one that you will be able to play for years, not months. To this day, I still love playing Mario Kart and Super Mario World. Those games came out in the 90s and I still enjoy them just as much as I used to. Will that $60 you're putting into a game be worth it in a year? If you absolutely must have a game, try and wait. Most games go down in price after they have been around for a few months. Buy used games as well. Used games work (generally) just as well as new games at a fraction of the cost. If you're going to be a gamer, be smart about it and spend wisely.
Are you a gamer?