It's a scary time to be a gamer. Hell, it's a scary time to be alive, but even so, it's scarier to be a gamer. For behind all of the noble pronunciations of gaming's true place as an art form, as the king of media, as the rising giant among soon-to-be dwarfed entertainment options, we all know - all of us - that it's a damned expensive hobby.
Let's say you're a PC gamer. That right there is an admission you don't have a family. How could you? Anyone with a child will tell you that when the choice comes down between braces and a new motherboard, the braces win out every time. These days, however, the choices are more dire. With unemployment rising and the value of the dollar growing thinner every day, gaming is taking a backseat. After all if the choice is between gaming or food, food wins. Daddy can't eat BioShock.
Economics is a funny business. Attempting to forecast the state of the economy, according the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, "makes weather forecasts look like physics." Economics is less science, more voodoo. What happens when people are afraid a stock will fail? They sell it. Like mad. Attempting to purge their portfolios of the "toxic" assets. The result? The stock fails. It's like Schrödinger's bank book, except every time you look inside you see only what you fear most.
Afraid there will be a run on a bank? Take your money out. All of it. The result? Banks fail. No consumer confidence in the American automobile? Well, then, they can buy Japanese. And as a result, American motor companies go bankrupt, thus fulfilling the prophecy.
So what about gaming? The prevailing wisdom is that the videogame industry is recession-proof. Entertainment usually is, after all, and videogaming, in spite of the expense of consoles, computers and the games themselves, is actually one of the cheaper entertainment options, hour for hour. So the experts tell us gaming is safe - for now.
Yet even if the industry as a whole is recession-proof, we aren't. And when the money gets tight, something has to give.
In this week's issue of The Escapist, "The New Deal," we're taking a look at gaming on the edge of financial collapse, sharing our tips on how to keep the dream alive. Roger Taylor looks at the fine line between escapism and depression, Sean Sands explains how the recession has forced him to reevaluate his gaming habits, Robert Zacny explores the depths of the local bargain bin and Brett Staebell looks to the past for Depression-era tips on surviving the hard times. Enjoy!