By John PritsiolasSpecial to the Chronicle
As an avid gamer who always attempts to convince non-gamers to join the ranks, I am often countered with cockamamie responses that cause me to scratch my head. The most common complaint is that gaming as a hobby has become prohibitively expensive over the course of the last two decades. This could not be any further from the truth.
Consider the Neo Geo, which was released in 1990, in comparison with the release of the PlayStation 4. In today’s dollars, found via the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index inflation calculator, the Neo Geo would have cost $1,647.47 as compared to the competitively priced PlayStation 4 at $400. That’s a near 66 percent decrease in over 23 years.
The PlayStation 3 at release would cost $696.87 in today’s dollars. When we hold the product in comparison to the PlayStation 4, we see a price decrease of almost 43 percent since 2006, even though the PlayStation 4 will launch with dramatic increases in power and features over its predecessor. While these cases do not take into account the price of games and additional content, there is certainly a deflationary effect at play in the industry.
The video game price for consoles has been held at around $60 for the last eight years. Purchasing “Killzone: Shadowfall,” for example, will cost you roughly 28 percent less than it would to purchase a game in 1992, a noticeable decrease in price considering how much more technologically demanding and expansive modern games are.
Some downloadable content (DLC) packages have come to replace the need for expansion packs, providing additional hours of game play through longer single player campaigns, and maps for online play. There are plenty of cases in which DLC has provided consumers with a better gaming experience. For example, look at the three different stories that were added to Grand Theft Auto IV over the years, enabling hours of extra play. Many DLC packs were released at $15, as compared to some of the expansion packs released for PC games during the nascence of the new millennium at around $20. In today’s terms, those expansion packs would be priced at around $26 – a 42.37 percent decrease in price over the course of 10 years.
College students’ expenses are never-ending, with costs arising at every turn. Though it may seem counterintuitive, as the initial cost of video games is somewhat high, being a gamer can actually decrease the rate of student spending.
People who play video games spend their downtime preoccupied with the console and are less likely to spend money during that time. Instead of going to a movie theater, restaurant or sporting event, students are entertained by an entity with a variable, but controlled cost. Going out generally results in uncontrolled and unexpected spending along the way. Being social is important, but there is something to be said for playing online with your friends, having an amicable experience and saving money at the same time.
But there is an unfortunate paradox that has created a stigma surrounding the culture of gaming. We are constantly bombarded with falsities exclaiming that videogames are unraveling the fabric of a healthy society. Despite what the media says about video games emboldening sedentary lifestyles, there is evidence that the assets gained through playing videogames outweigh the negative “side effects” by a good margin.
It has been found that adults who play video games have a 10-20 percent increase in cognitive performance when it comes to problem solving. Modern video games are intricate and rely heavily on the user’s ability to multitask, building new neurological pathways in the process, and genres ranging from military to sports promote the development of faster reflexes as a result of quick actions and time sensitive movements – all benefits blatantly absent from the pages of the latest James Patterson novel. Furthermore, practically every video game on the shelves encourages cooperation and teamwork, which better prepares students for the job market.
The deflation and advancement of video games have greatly benefited the industry as a whole, making the hobby more affordable and much less esoteric than it was during the 1980s. However, the fallacy that gaming is too expensive and pernicious to society has become so ubiquitous that it prevents millions of potential gamers from enjoying great games. I feel obligated as a gamer to get as many people to play video games as possible (a gamer’s civic duty, per se), and I hope that I am able to dispel the fallacies surrounding the activity’s cost and consequences, enabling more individuals to explore the never-ending world of gaming.