Out of all the reasons why people choose not to play video games, the most often heard excuse is that as a hobby, gaming is simply too expensive to both break into and maintain. This sentiment is echoed not just by newbies but by longtime gamers as well, with many expressing grievances over the physical price of being a part of video game culture. Indeed, there are quite a lot groundwork and ongoing costs required, including the purchase of a modern system (PC or console), accessories, good internet, and new games. At first, the concern over expenses seems quite understandable, as video games can lead to hundreds of dollars spent on mere entertainment. However, what many people seem to miss in regards to this topic is just how subjective the idea of cost and value is. The problem isn’t that gaming is ‘too expensive,’ but that the greater public doesn’t know how to value the art form.
Whenever this subject is brought up in videos or online articles, discussions seemingly always devolve into a futile debate over ‘system superiority,’ which is a shame considering how important this topic is to the wider gaming industry. As implied before, price can sometimes be the deciding factor that swings potential customers, making it a vital component in how the medium of video games can garner more interest and appreciators.
For a while now, video games have occupied a strange space in the minds of the public, with people unsure as to how they should view the medium. This is understandable though, as gaming is indeed a bizarre mix of art, consumer technology, home entertainment, nerd culture, and the bleeding edge. It is perhaps that fusion of influences and aspects that have muddled the image of gaming in some people’s minds. Over the years, I’ve seen friends spend hundreds of dollars on new phones and computers yet bemoan the expensiveness of consoles and games. Why? Well, it’s because gaming is still viewed as less of a technology and more of a toy. Video games are considered a novelty. That’s why the general public is always aghast at violent games: they don’t take the medium seriously to begin with. The initial price tag for a moderate PC or console can be confronting to newcomers, as they simply don’t see it as a worthy investment.
In terms of actual value, video games can represent some of the best in all of entertainment. The price of a movie ticket in Australia (where I live) is around twenty-two dollars. Meanwhile, a new retail game goes for seventy-nine dollars with upwards of ten hours worth of content. Considering how movie tickets give you access to a two-hour film you can only watch once, video games are by far the more cost-effective form of entertainment. And all of that is under the assumption that we’re dealing with a new retail game with ten hours worth of content, not considering cheaper indie titles or RPGs/Open-world games that can often last dozens of hours without becoming stale. To equal just ten hours worth of content with movies, I’d have to watch five of them and pay a hundred and ten dollars.
At the beginning of this piece I mentioned how price and value are mostly subjective, and after all I’ve said, that’s still true. Even though video games are great value nowadays, it all depends on whether you have enough to spend. Buying within your limits is perfectly normal and fine. However, what I’d like to see less of is people disparaging video games in general, not seeing the medium for its worth, literally and figuratively.