So Frankly...

So Frankly...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Playing with Your Money – The Value of Games

A walk through your local game store, or even browsing an online store, can give you a bit of sticker shock. It’s very easy to find a game that retails for $50.00, and games for the hardcore hobbyist can run to $100.00 pretty quickly. While a gamer like me can justify (at least to myself) spending $50.00 on a game, how can that work for the casual gamer on a family budget? Is this a joke, spending that kind of money on cardboard and plastic? Really? Yes, really. There is far more value in buying a game than is obvious; I will show you how the cost is reasonable, and the additional value that doesn’t have a dollar figure.

Photo by Mikko Saari
A quick look online shows that a movie in my area goes for $10.00 per ticket. Settlers of Catan, a revolutionary hobby game that is crossing over to the mainstream, sells at Target for $45.00. So a family of four can go to the movies for roughly the same price as buying a copy of Settlers. Each will last about an hour and a half. Should the family like the game, (and it is an excellent, excellent game,) they will have it to play again. It has more variety than a movie, since the board is modular and never the same twice. Our copy has been played 25 times (yes, I count these things) and the “per hour” entertainment cost is well below a dollar

Photo by Angus the Bull
Even War of the Ring, which recently was in the list of games I’ve played that shows in the left margin, was worth the purchase. At the time I bought it, it was listing at $80.00 a copy. This is a hard core “gamer’s” game, taking about three hours to play. My son and I have played it only three times, but it is still worth the money. The “per hour” cost for both of us works out to be $9.00, or $4.50 per person, which is still below the cost of a movie. (Plus, I bought it used on eBay for half the price!) Again, there is more variety. No matter how many times I watch the movie, Lord of the Ring, Isildur still wants to keep the Ring. You would think by now he would know to throw it into the flames! In contrast, the last play of War of the Ring resulted in Aragorn relieving the siege at Minas Tirith with the Osgiliath garrison, only to be taken when Minas Tirith fell to another host of orcs. Gandalf died. Legolas died. The Ring was taken, and Middle Earth conquered by my son, the Dark Lord. The plot changes every time.

Beyond the money, there are other reasons games have value. First of all, watching a movie, or even free broadcast TV, doesn’t stimulate the brain the way a game will. Games encourage problem solving and creative thinking. This improves our minds for the other facets of life, whether we are facing algebra or Alzheimer’s. Furthermore, it’s done together, interactively. All of the game-play encourages deeper relationships within families and friends, and that doesn’t have a price.
Next time you are planning Family Night, plan on a buying a game. (Don’t worry; I will help you know which game to buy.) The fun will last beyond one night, and your family will thank you!

Roll On!

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