When to Use Your Items

Link Eyes

I’ve heard the line “You’ve got to live a little while you are still young” more than once in my life. I started thinking about this the other day and it occurred to me how my frugality is reflected in my habits when I play an RPG.

I have gotten a lot of comments from friends and coworkers in my life questioning my decisions around how I choose to spend my money. More specifically, around my frugality. I’ve heard the line “You’ve got to live a little while you are still young” more than once in my life.

I started thinking about this the other day and it occurred to me how my frugality is reflected in my habits when I play an RPG. Hopefully writing about it will help flesh out some of the parallels as well as help me understand the benefits and downfalls to my spending habits.

99 Potions

I am quite frugal with game currency. I will buy neat equipment here and there but often enjoy just letting my cash amass keeping my eyes open for true value-added purchases. This can feel a little silly as the amount of gold gained from enemies often skyrockets, mooting the small portion I had stored early in the game.

I’m similar with items. I will buy a couple potions for security and use them as a LAST resort… and by last resort, I basically mean never. Before long, potions become obsolete as they do not heal enough to be relevant given the characters’ max healths. At this point, the cycle repeats itself with “high-potion”, “x-potion” or whatever other name the designer deems appropriate to pluck from the lexicon.

My frugality might be most relevant when it comes to items that raise max stats. These are generally quite rare and expensive (if they can even be bought). If I use them early in the game, they have a much more lasting effect, boosting important stats as I progress. Just the same though, with most games I will keep stat boosters until the post game.

I do not necessarily have a reason to save the items, but I always like the thought of being able to use them later… even if that time never comes.

I do not necessarily have a reason to save the items, but I always like the thought of being able to use them later… even if that time never comes.

Insurance Policy

What is the impact of this hoarding? Perhaps I could spare myself some trials and tribulations through the use of a convenient item or upgraded equipment. Beyond this, not much is different. I play through the games just the same, generally quite successfully.

I guess I value the insurance of the possibility of needing items or money in the future much more than the value of using them now. Take max stat increasing items for example. What if there is a boss that I can see how an extra couple points in defense would help a specific character survive an attack?

What I do with them often means very little. The stats gained from these are usually a few little waves in an ocean of stats. Thus, the peace of mind provided by the possible future value actually means a whole heck of a lot more to me than a couple points in speed spread amongst my characters.

The stats gained from these are usually a few little waves in an ocean of stats. Thus, the peace of mind provided by the possible future value actually means a whole heck of a lot more to me than a couple points in speed spread amongst my characters.

Living a Frugal Life

You can maybe see where this is going. Quite similar to my gaming habits, I am pretty frugal in life. It’s not really out of necessity. I am fortunate enough to have a successful and hard-working family and a job that pays the bills. Again my frugality arises from other aspects of saving.

The Safety Net:

A lot of the frugality revolves around that same concept of insurance I find in my gaming habits. I never know when some costly disaster may occur or perhaps some great opportunity may arise. I love that feeling when an opportunity presents itself and I can reconcile spending some money on it given what I have spent on my day to day needs.

I love that feeling when an opportunity presents itself and I can reconcile spending some money on it given what I have spent on my day to day needs.

For example, I booked a flight to visit my girlfriend who is doing an abroad working experience in India, which is going to set me back a pretty penny. However, being able to reconcile that amount with my monthly spending and feel comfortable about it leaves me in a positive state; I can completely dismiss the negativity I would have if I was not getting savings here and there.

Striving For the 999,999:

Beyond simply the concept of insurance, there is another element. I mentioned earlier how money in RPGs tends to skyrocket as you get further and further into the game. Well, this often ends in a money abundance in the endgame. Certain items and equipment that were pretty expensive earlier may be a drop in the bucket now.

Sometimes, this is richness beyond value, in that there is very little purpose of having so much money because there is nothing to spend it on. More often than not, however, there are quite expensive goodies and this abundance of money allows for choices.

Money in the real world does not follow quite as much of an extreme spike, but does tend to gradually increase over the period of one’s working life. I do not necessarily envision myself striking it rich and hitting any kind of comparable money cap the way there is in games.

That being said, there is a great allure to me of having a freedom from money. Even if I am never “rich”, I feel there is an attainable level of wealth that brings this element of freedom of choice with spending on the things that are truly valuable in my life.

There is a great allure to me of having a freedom from money.

Skewed Frugality:

Another thing to keep in mind when we consider frugality is understanding how different people value things differently. For example, in FFXII I valued getting the new skills and spells quite highly. I would generally not spend any money if I could be saving up for a new spell. The concept of the permanence of buying a skill versus the diminishing value of an equipment or items just seemed so much more worth it to me.

As you may have guessed from the content of this blog, one of the things I prioritize in my life is my gaming and that is not necessarily the norm in the corporate world. This leads to a reinforcement of a false frugality in a sense. It creates the perception that I don’t want to spend any money where often the reality is that I simply value certain things less than others.

This leads to a reinforcement of a false frugality in a sense. It creates the perception that I don’t want to spend any money where often the reality is that I simply value certain things less than others.

For example, the very concept that people will without a second thought pay more on a single drink at a bar than it costs to get an awesome game on Steam is a little crazy to me. Not that I don’t drink, but that comparison point is always in my mind. I’m not saying everyone should be a gamer, but it always leaves me a little curious about what benchmark the people preaching “living a little” have when they are buying a drink or two.

Penny Wise and Pound Foolish:

When I think about the concept of frugality, the saying “penny wise and pound foolish” often pops into my head. I think there is a great deal of truth to the aphorism, and it deserves a thought or two.

For anyone like me who finds enjoyment out of saving a dollar here and there, balancing the enjoyment of saving with the reality of the value gained from certain spending can be a hard task. There are a lot of ways to think about this saying. It is most often an issue in instances where a low level of perceived freedom of finances meets a low level of perceived value. When we feel like our pockets are empty we are less likely to think logically about things that we don’t immediately deem as valuable.

When we feel like our pockets are empty we are less likely to think logically about things that we don’t immediately deem as valuable.

I find this occurs most often when it relates to giving. Whether you are interacting with someone to create a lasting friendship or more for networking purposes, giving often holds value that is not immediately evident. These situations can be deciphered and analyzed by keeping the question in mind of if money spent is for me or for another, and if it is for another, what their perceived value is.

…giving often holds value that is not immediately evident.

The situation can arise on a completely personal level too. This kind of personal pound foolishness can come from many things, but what often triggers it is the “manliness” complex, or generally wanting to take on more with less help. For example, not realizing when you really need a vacation to relax the mind.

All-in-all I don’t have that much more insight on this matter except to consider the aphorism… it’s a good one.

Wrapping it Up

That’s pretty much all I have to say on the topic. I guess a lot of it just depends on what I value. I can’t ever see myself caring about an awesome super expensive new car. It just doesn’t seem worth it to me. However, at the same time it’s good to keep an eye on less tangible value especially when it relates to building lasting relationships. Then we just try to find the intersection of our wallet, what we value and what those around us value.

Alright, I’m sure there are a lot of varying viewpoints on this topic so let me know what you think in the comments. Do you consider yourself frugal, spendthrifty or somewhere in-between? And what are some of the main reasons behind that living style?

Thanks for reading! Game on and learn on!

~Dylan

6 thoughts on “When to Use Your Items

    1. connorbros Post author

      I’m enjoying some indi games at the moment. It’s hard to resist some of the games especially with the Summer Sale. I recently picked up Super Meat Boy, Thomas Was Alone, Fez and To The Moon.

      ~Dyl

      Reply
  1. JackOfHearts

    A few comments about the RPG side first. Often I think I find that buying items early in the game is an investment. Even if the game isn’t so hard that you HAVE to buy upgraded equipment early to survive, often times buying the upgraded equipment lets me complete quests and defeat enemies faster, thus providing a return on the investment. In a real-life scenario, it would be like driving to a client as opposed to flying. If you’re billing a client $X per hour, there’s a point where it doesn’t make sense not to invest in that plane ticket, because while they both get you there, the plane gets you there faster and lets you earn more faster.

    I am still planning on a silver-based economy for Lost Worlds, partly to emphasize a grittier “getting by with low wealth” play-style where investing in an average quality blade is a real sacrifice, but is, at the same time, more meaningful. Certainly by the end game, when the characters have reached some sort of “nobility” or hero status, buying an average blade would be a drop in the bucket, but they’ll likely still not have enough wealth to feel like money doesn’t matter anymore.

    After all, I want one of the major reward systems of the game to feel rewarding, and if it’s not constrained from start to finish, it loses its value.

    Real life – now that’s complicated. I used to be as frugal as can be. Now I’m married and have a better paying job, etc. I still make sound financial decisions, I think, such as investing in retirement, etc. But now, if I decide I want to purchase something, I’ll purchase something high quality instead of the cheapest thing I can find. I’ve basically decided if I have actually made the decision to spend my time and energy on some activity, I’m fortunate enough and willing to invest in it. I agree with your thoughts on “beer money,” and while I certainly go have a couple sometimes with friends, I am always cognizant that spending $40-50 at a bar for an evening of social drinking is a pretty steep price.

    Reply
    1. connorbros Post author

      To the first comment, that makes a lot of sense. I maybe exaggerated my habits a little and definitely keep that sense of investment/efficiency in mind. This may be skewed by recent experiences but a fair deal of RPGs have a habit of giving you fairly good equipment compared to what you can buy just in the normal progression of the game. Though there is the element of doing harder things (a side quest or such) that when it arises will push me to get equipment that I feel will make a sizable impact. Since I enjoy front loading difficulty, this often arises in games that are more open range style for me, where I can test myself without the games set path.

      On top of what you mentioned, I think the comment about driving versus flying touches on the topic of penny wise and pound foolish as well as it relates a lot to immediacy of costs and rewards. It’s a neat example to show that all these concepts, though I presented them as separate, never live isolated from one another.

      I think it’s good to always have some meaning for the money, especially if you are going for that more gritty feel. Games often have to balance that feeling of being a fully self contained experience where you can collect everything and put the game aside versus being a more open experience which keeps alive the feeling of endless exploration and possibilities. I can understand how choosing what the real value of near endless money should parallel what the game is going for in this regard. What’s the hardest for me is when they kind of dangle the carrot and make it a collectable experience where you can kind of get everything but pushing for the last things just becomes a hefty grind (The Kingdom Hearts games have a tendency to flirt with this line with there bonus endings).

      I’m quite curious how my thoughts and habits will change as I do eventually, as you mention, get a better salary or a family and whatnot. I’m assuming peanut butter sandwiches and pasta will become less of a staple in my life 😛 I feel like what you are talking about is a lot of the feeling I was trying to convey in “Striving for the 999,999”. As my wealth level rises, I’m hoping that I get that freedom to feel comfortable just being a more spendthrifty with the things I really value, going for the extra quality.

      ~Dyl

      Reply

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