Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, March 14, 2021

Fifteen years ago, I bought Final Fantasy Legend for the original Nintendo Game Boy. It was a trip: A fantasy role-playing game that was designed to take you days — days! — to play and complete. For the early ’90s, this was largely uncharted videogame territory.

A friend of mine quickly took a shining to the game, and would play it for (what seemed like) hours on end. He was borderline obsessed with it. Despite much derision from me and our dormmates, he pressed on, devoting ridiculous amounts of time to it.

He got to a point in the game where it wasn’t at all obvious how to proceed. It turned out to be a real dead end, despite all efforts to try to suss it out. It appeared that the end of the line had come, with an unfulfilled feeling to go with it.

Why didn’t he just do a search for game cheats? This was 1990ish, children, and there was no Internet (to speak of). Dark ages, indeed.

What there was, was a 1-900 number that Nintendo had set up just for these situations. The idea was that anyone who spent hours of effort getting to a certain point in the gameplay wouldn’t mind shelling out some coin to get the inside secret on how to get out of a difficult jam.

The downside, of course, was the stooping to extracurricular aid for a freakin’ videogame; you might as well have gone to a prostitute. It represented a divide: Going from playing a consequence-free game, to demonstrating an unhealthy preoccupation. The feeling at the time was that the shame was too great to actually resort to telephone help for something only a generation removed from Pac-Man and Donkey Kong.

But he couldn’t concede defeat. So he called the 1-900 number. He probably spent 2 minutes on the call, but he got the info he needed, got past the game’s sticky point, and went on to solve the whole thing.

And I made sure to ride him about it. A lot. In fact, I just rode him about it today, during lunch. Paying for a videogame after the purchase of the actual software is enough to earn my years-long derision.

So, you can imagine what my opinion is of today’s virtual marketplaces for massively multiplayer online role-playing games like EverQuest, where players pay real-life cash money for game elements and actual businesses have sprouted up around the “pharming” model.

So if you feel like bragging to me about how you landed a coveted Sword of Foofram, and paid only $250 on eBay for it, think twice. Unless you want to be reminded for the next 15 years about what a chump you are/were.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/14/2005 09:52:22 PM
Category: Videogames | Permalink |

Trackback this entry: Right-click and copy link
2 Feedbacks
  1. I haven’t tried any MMORPG out of fear that I’ll like it.

    Comment by David — 03/14/2005 @ 11:16:55 PM

  2. That used to be a back-of-my-mind fear too; my personality profile would seem to have me gravitate toward these hyper-involved games. But I’ve had plenty of opportunity, and they haven’t snared me. I just don’t see the lasting appeal, nor do I have the patience. Give me the Atari and Namco classics, along with the odd sports game, and I’m set.

    Comment by CT — 03/15/2005 @ 09:15:40 AM

RSS feed for feedback on this post.

Leave a comment

Comment form closed to reduce comment-spam opportunities. Sorry about the inconvenience. Please feel free to respond to this post via Trackback and/or Pingback!