Short Arms, Long Pockets

Originally Published: 3 June 2008

There are a lot of habits that are hard to break – picking your nose, biting your nails, licking your knife at the table – but the one I find the hardest is parting with money in games.

When GTA IV came out, I had been happily playing it for a few days when I received a text from my girlfriend saying something along the lines of “Why haven’t you told me you can get prostitutes in the game?” My reply, rather than being one of deniability or subject avoidance, got straight to the point. “You can,” I thumbed, “but they cost money, and basically I’m not spending any I don’t have to. I got a new pair of trousers for free at the start of the game – I won’t even spend money on clothes, let alone mucky women!”. Just imagine how excited I was when I found that T-Shirt at the bottom of the Statue of Happiness… woohoo free clothes rule!

I’ve noticed that the same is true in a lot of games. In Enchanted Arms, for example, I won’t pay for any components to make the creatures. I don’t mind paying for things I can’t find lying around, like weapons and skills, but I draw the line at paying for things that are dropped by fallen enemies or found in boxes.

This has been playing on my mind a bit, as I’ve just started Final Fantasy V on PSOne. I’m trying to be more generous with my money. I really am. I can’t do it though. Any town I enter, I run past the supplies shop. I’ll spend a few gil on weapons and armour but I refuse to buy a phoenix down when I know I’ll stumble across one in battle somewhere – albeit usually the battle after I needed one! I’m like the Ray Mears of gaming. I could show you how to survive if you were dropped into a monster-filled forest with only the weapons on your back.

The only time, I find, that I’ll really hammer an in-game wallet is, you guessed it, when there’s an achievement at the end of it. Saints Row – buy a load of clothes, get some Gamerscore. You should have seen me spend. Spend, spend, spend. I got a nice purple pimp hat in my spending madness, so it’s all good as my big-headed albino character struts his oh so funky stuff round the streets of Stillwater.

Guitar Hero is another – work like a swine to earn some fundage and blow it all on a load of stuff I wouldn’t normally even look at, like the guitar finishes or the slightly different coloured denim, just because there’s a smidgen of Gamerscore for buying everything.