Looking back, being a kid gamer was pretty sweet. Often times (with enough begging) you parents probably bought you a new game once in a while or as a gift. If not, allowance and extra pocket money could be put toward a trip to the Gamestop in the mall to buy one. When you weren’t allowed (or couldn’t afford) to get the games or consoles you wanted, you looked forward to moving away from your parents, going off to college or to work, and getting whatever you wanted. How old would you be when that happened? Probably no more than 18, right? Most people have their life together by then.
Well, here you are, and you couldn’t have been more naive. Finally, after all of these years, it’s time for your dream of owning every game and console you could possible ask for to be realized, and… you can’t do it. Your spare cash is spent on extra ramen, fixing your car that keeps breaking down, new clothes, or all of the other things your parents will no longer buy for you. And forget that new console — you don’t even have enough money for a TV. Even PC gaming can be expensive if you can’t afford to invest in a good PC. A hobby like gaming can seem almost impossible on a budget, especially if you’re a college student. After all, part of being a gamer is being able to keep up with the latest releases that everyone else is talking about. But if you are serious about keeping gaming as a hobby, there are a few alternatives besides selling your possessions/body/soul in order to afford a PS4.
Work With What You Have
When you can’t afford to buy any more games, perhaps the most obvious solution is to, well, not buy any more games. This may not be the most attractive option at first, but if you still have some old consoles or old games laying around, it’s worth a try. Now that I’m home from college for the summer and have some time, I decided to start replaying Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door when I hadn’t taken it out of its case for years. At first, I did it out of desperation because I didn’t have anything else to play, but I was actually surprised at how much more of the dialogue and just the game itself I hadn’t fully appreciated when I was younger. Playing through the most challenging parts a second time can be a fun and exciting trip down memory lane… especially if you find them even more difficult than your childhood self did. Which, pfft, totally didn’t happen to me.
“Let’s Plays” Are Your Friend…
Nostalgia is nice, but playing old games will not relieve an itch that playing only that one particular game you want could scratch. However, if you simply can’t afford to purchase it and play it yourself, there are many channels on YouTube devoted to uploading playthroughs of popular games, especially once they’re first released. Sometimes, this can make the craving to play even stronger, but if you find yourself out of options or have to wait awhile before making the purchase yourself, this is a nice way to experience the game’s story or preview some of the elements that you may have been excited (or not-too-excited) about.
…And Bundles Are an Even Better Friend
If you are less concerned with mainstream titles and just want something new to play, there are plenty of cheap (or even free) game bundles available for download. This is a way to try out some new games for a fraction of what you would normally pay while helping out indie developers in the process. There are many different bundles for different price ranges, and some even have different themes. If you’re looking for somewhere to start, you can try The Humble Bundle or The Free Bundle. While the games aren’t all great, some of my favorite games that I’ve played recently have been from free bundles. Give them (and these other options) a try and you may find that gaming on a budget isn’t as torturous as you once believed.