Do your old buddy With One F a solid would you? Go to Google News, type the word "poverty", click on any story, scroll to the comments, and then come back here and tell me how many it took before you lost faith in all humanity. My average is eight, but I'm something of a forgiving soul.
America has become virtually obsessed with the idea that poor and struggling people are secretly greedy moochers living the easy life on a load of Welfare Steak and free health insurance sucked from the teats of the working man (Working women teats produce 30 percent less Welfare Steak according to the Houston Press research library). Why else would the Heritage Foundation put out a report saying, "Hey, the poor can't really be that bad off if they have refrigerators, right?" and then having Fox News eat that up like orange sherbet in a solid gold bowl?
Yes, you can have appliance and still be pretty bad off, and no, the answer is not selling those electronics. But what about video game systems? Surely is a poor person has a game system he simply must be deluded about how bad his life is if he has a $400 fun machine.
On the contrary...
Video Games Can Give You the Most for Your Dollar Last time I took the wife and daughter to see a movie it was around $20 to get in, not counting the food. For that we were entertained by two hours of Frozen, roughly $3 per person per hour. A good book is a better deal, giving you around eight hours of entertainment for somewhere between $5 and $10 depending on the format and newness.
A good video game though blows both those options away. For less than $20 I've netted more than 200 hours of enjoyment from Final Fantasy VII, and for less than $10 I've played Poker Night at the Inventory regularly since it first came out. Even those deals pale in comparison to what someone who enjoys World of Warcraft gets out of their subscription. Pound for pound, a poor person wanting to not go mad from lack of leisure activities can't do better than video games.
Oh, and by the way, did you know that libraries lend video games now?
Video Game Consoles Are a Solid Investment I mentioned a PS2 title just now. Know why? Because I still play it all the time. It's almost a decade old and works just as well as the day it came into my house. In the entire time I've had it I've had to replace a controller and a single memory card as a cost of less than $30. How many other devices in your home that you regularly use are going to offer that kind of return and dependability?
More than that, your system actually becomes more valuable in a sense the older it gets. Here's how. When the PS2 first came out I could afford a new game maybe every three months or so, but now thanks to Amazon and stores like Game Over I have a huge library to choose from a bargain basement prices. My birthday present this year was a copy of Sly Cooper and the Thievus Raccoonus. Total price including shipping? $15 and I couldn't be happier. As your system ages more and more games come into affordable price range. Speaking of which...
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It's the Only Entertainment Option With Real Trade-In Value Anyone who has taken boxes of books and DVDs to Half Price and walked out bewildered at how little they were worth understands the fleeting concept of resale value in pop consumables. The sole exception is video games, which is a $2 billion a year industry when it comes to trade-ins and pre-owns.
Say you bought a $40 3DS game that you played obsessively for four solid months (And yes, I'm talking about Bravely Default). Once you finally finish your worship of Inconsequentia, Goddess of Pointless Side Quests, you're going to want a new game. You might not have another $40 to spend on that game, but by trading in your game you can net a pre-owned title for a fraction of the cost on the value of your original purchase.
I can't tell you how many times I've actually walked out of a Game Stop with free games based on the strength of trades, especially if you pay attention to the days when they have offers for additional in store credit. Plus, Walmart is trying to get in on the practice, and allowing you to apply your value not only to games, but anything in the store. So there you go conservatives. Poor people can sell their games for food if they want to and actually recover some of the original worth.
Consoles are Really Not That Expensive Yes, a brand new PS4 will set you back $400, but I guarantee you a year from now you'll be able to buy a used one for $300 or less. They're already on CraigsList in Houston for $200, well within the range of a once a year birthday or Christmas present. That's nothing compared to how cheap buying previous generation systems can be. If you're willing to look around for sales, be careful with trade-ins, save up, or happen to have a generous relative around the holidays it's very possible for a poorer person to have a pretty rockin' console.
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Also, consider that with the entertainment hub aspect of the current generation of systems we may be looking at the death of cable TV itself. Literally the only reason I still even have cable is because I have to watch shows the day they come out for this job sometimes. Between Amazon Streaming and Netflix, both of which run through my PS4, I almost never watch live streaming TV, which would be one less monthly expense thanks to the system. It's possible that eventually the PS4 will pay for itself in savings.
Poor People Need Victories I woke up last week to find that I'd left my game of Final Fantasy XII paused from the night before trying to kill a huge super boss. I'd been trying to kill it for the better part of a week, and I just decided to give it one more go before work.
With my daughter cheering me on between bites of a jelly sandwich I finally took him out. It was a minor, trivial victory that's utterly meaningless to anyone but me, but it did put a positive spin on the day. Times are very tough right now. The wage gap has become so bad that it's actually starting to shorten the lifespan of poor people, and all around us circumstances beyond our control are putting us further down the ladder and offering no help besides snide remarks about bootstrapping and an expectation that if we want better we must be prepared to work ourselves to death.
It's times like these that we need a quiet moment to slay a dragon.