Wednesday, June 4, 2008

10 Ways Gamers Can Save Money

While the stereotype of your average modern gamer is an individual that lacks adequate hygiene and lives in his parent's basement, there are actually many of us that are making our own way. We are independent, have families to support, and bills to pay, and in this economic crunch that we all currently find ourselves in, what could be more responsible than searching for ways to lighten our financial load?

Beyond the standard gas-consumption-related advice that you see and hear almost everywhere, here are 10 things that we, as gamers, can do to help our wallets stay just a little bit more chunky during these tough economic times:

1) Rent games with low replay value. How many of you have games in your library that you haven't played in, say, the last week? What about the previous month? Year??? I'm sure there are PLENTY of games on your shelf that fit any one of those categories, and that's just not financially smart, my friend. $50 doesn't go far these days, and especially not when it's collecting dust. Get the most out of your money set aside for gaming and only buy games with high replay value. Rent others that you know you want to play, but will only play a few times at best (i.e., many single-player RPGs).

2) Unplug cathode case lights. Cathode lights, while considered "cool" by some and included in many big-name PC gaming rig designs, are really just an unnecessary accessory we can do without. Their cost can readily add up as well, considering that many will run you between $8-10 and need to be replaced upon extinction. In flipping the switch and turning them off, you will not only start saving money immediately, but you won't have to spend money replacing them when they burn out either - a win on both fronts.

3) Unplug your gaming consoles when not in use. It's well-known that modern electronics, including gaming consoles, can be quite the energy hogs. This is partly due to the fact that many items simply do not turn off when told to do so! Instead, they beam a little red light back at you, stating that they have entered a "standby" mode that continues to drain energy at an alarming rate. For example, leaving a PS3 on standby uses 5x more energy than running your refrigerator for the same amount of time! I'm sure the Xbox 360 and even the Nintendo Wii are guilty of a little post-use drainage as well. So, instead of just flipping the power switch off and sending those trickster consoles into standby, unplug the little leeches until you're ready to get your game on again. Heck, while you're at it, unplug EVERYTHING that can go on standby, like your flat screen TV, sound system, and DVD player, and save even more money! GG, electricity bill. GG.

4) Downgrade your home phone service. Many of us connect to the net via DSL over our home phone line. If you're one of those gamers, you know that in most cases, DSL requires an active, working phone line to function. In this age of cellphones, free minutes and long distance, however, that phone service contract is a waste of money. All you need a line for is DSL, so instead of paying a premium for a bunch of features you will never use, call up your home service provider and drop your service contract down to the bare minimum. No Caller I.D., Call Waiting, nothing. Ask about "per-minute" contracts and pick one up if you can, as their monthly fees are among the cheapest you will find. When that's done, simply unplug your phone, and you're off to saving several hundred dollars a year.

5) Downgrade your broadband to a speed you need. Most internet users are overpaying for their services. Why? Because they sign a contract for a speed that is either much faster than what they actually need or that their computer can even handle. The problem is that, as gamers, we approach this pitfall far too often. We want the fastest graphics, refresh rate, response time, and latency, and will pay more for it even if we don't need it. And trust me, you don't need it. Downgrade to a speed that is around 1500/768 Kbps, and not only will you continue to enjoy reasonably fast online gaming, but you'll also save yourself a large chuck of change too.

6) Make your computer energy efficient. Rising energy costs are nothing to balk at. The price has increased about 50% in the past ten years and continues to rise sharply today. To save you as much money as possible, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends that you turn your computer completely off (and unplug it) in situations when it will not be used within the next 2 hours. That way, the cost of the energy surge needed to power the system up again is offset by the down-time. And this doesn't just apply to computers, but to all of their peripherals as well. Monitors, speakers, printers, you name it, should all be shut down and unplugged when not in use. If you want to streamline the process, have a smart surge protector do it all for you.

7) Turn off the lights. We all know that it's appropriate and energy-efficient to always turn off the lights before leaving a room. We've been drilled by this way of thinking for quite some time, and indeed, it's a great way to lower energy costs. But what about the other way around? What about turning the lights off while remaining inside a room? While gaming, we need no other light source than the tube, plasma, or LCD sitting directly in front of us. So turning off every other light source, and lowering your energy bill in the process, is definitely not a bad way to go. Just be careful not to trip on your way out!

8) Purchase gear only when you have to, and like you're saving money. "Frugal" is the word here, folks. If you can borrow a game, don't buy it. If your friend has a replacement computer part he doesn't need, ask for it. Don't be shy. Be smart. Approach every new or replacement purchase as if it is an opportunity to save money. Want to buy a new title for your gaming library? Buy it USED off of eBay or Need a sound card to replace the one that just crapped out on you? Buy it OEM, and don't empty your wallet for newer technology; only buy exactly what you need! Nothing more.

9) Ditch carbonated, expensive energy drinks for tap water. We gamers need energy to get us through those all-night frag fests, and sodas and energy drinks happen to be our method of choice, as they are for the rest of the nation. It's no surprise, then, that they cost consumers hundreds and hundreds of dollars a year, which is pretty fail considering how TERRIBLE they are for our health. Caffeine is a diuretic, which dehydrates the body, and as a carbonated beverage is considered by many to compete with calcium absorption (biochemistry anyone?). Tap water, while not as tasty, requires a fraction of the cost of other beverages, and is much better for you because it hydrates the body and helps with mineral absorption. So kicking the soda can will not only mean that you will save a lot of cash now, but also that you will be healthier, saving countless dollars on potential doctor visits later.

10) Keep playing video games. Gaming, if approached responsibly, can be one of the cheapest forms of entertainment you can find. Yes, it's reasonably expensive to get things started, with what, having to buy either a console or computer to pwn noobs on. But once received and the gamer settled into a minimalist approach, think about how little that will cost him one, six, and twelve months later. And compare that to how much other hobbies or activities would cost in that same amount of time. And hey, it's much more enjoyable too! So ditch the movie, the bar, and the expensive restaurant, and roll some Alliance head with a pizza instead. Poetry to live by, my friends. Game on. ;)

Got any of your own money-saving methodologies to share? Post them in the comments now! =)


Jamie said...

You have some great ideas here. Thank you for posting!

Anonymous said...

oh em gee jag!
great post although i will not be trading my coffee for tap water anytime soon. i will however never ever buy bottled water again. deal?

the internet connection tip is a good one and on the topic of saving money me and my husband just ditched our direct TV in favor of netflix for 2 reasons.
1. we wanted to be more deliberate about the media we consumed
2. i never watch TV anyway i'm always playing WoW :P

that's $100 a month we can put towards something we like to do such as vacationing in the bahama's =)

just kidding. the internet in the bahama's really sucks, who would want to go there? ;)

psy in all her late night silliness

Anonymous said...

Calling my phone company today. Thanks for the tip

Brian said...

lol love the graphic

Jagoex said...

@Brian: Thanks. =)

@Psy: Coffee is good, but the caffeine is AWFUL!

There is evidence that the body will react to decaffeinated coffee in a similar way, because of the cues it receives (the aroma and taste is the same, etc.). Try it and lemme know what happens!

Oh, and bottled water is totally for the lose, so I guess we can agree to that as long as you get yourself a nice sports bottle (BSE-free, of course) and use that for your drinking pleasure. ;)

Kinzlayer said...

haha, great post. I have always adhered to #10 as going out to bars, club'ing, restaurants, etc might seems to be fun at the moment, it's horribad for your wallet, especially if you are a guy. Come on, who won't buy a drink for a hawt looking woman but mostly she will just drink it and you're out of 5 to 8 bucks for what, a smile? GG bad trade GG.

B of A said...

Water? LOL!!!!! Nice graphic though

B of A said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jagoex said...

Bad, B. Very bad.


EvilCheeseWedge said...

Water? Is that some sort of new budget line energy drink or something? I don't think I've heard of it.

Maybe I'm weird, but I don't really like gaming in the dark, and I even have a backlit keyboard... I usually have one lamp on for some abient light.

Jagoex said...

Put an energy efficient bulb in it then. Save some monies a month. =)

How've you been, Cheese? Been a while.

B of A said...


lol so that is yours!! HA

EvilCheeseWedge said...

Jago, I think I'm going to hire you as an energy savings consultant. ;) But yeah, I was actually thinking about doing that. It's pretty much just a matter of remembering to buy the bulbs when I'm at the store...

I'm not bad, how about you? Where are you these days (besides nursing the spawn?) Still play WoW or anything? Sadly, I do... I've been hanging around Failexstrasza on my warlock lately. :/

Jagoex said...

@Cheese: Glad to see you're cursing instead of healing! How're you liking the 'lock compared to the old hobo, now that you've had plenty of time to play the two and compare them?

I still "play," but more for a paycheck than anything else. I haven't touched my own warlock since mid-March, which is ages ago in WoW time. I kinda miss it, to be honest, but then again, in other more important ways, I don't miss it all.

I'm sure you know what I mean. =)

Star said...

That picture is so snes!! I save money by playing games at other people's houses. I don't worry about buying games, the electricity, or the foods I eat, cause it's all FREE! >=)

I know it's wrong, but I'm a poor college student. What do you expect?

EvilCheeseWedge said...

Jago, yeah, it's been a lot of fun playing the warlock. Unfortunately, he's about as much of a hobo as my priest, but right now he's got about 858 shadow damage unbuffed, but only about 9K health and a mid amount of hit/crit.

Either way though it's a nice change of pace. I think warlocks are a lot of fun to play. I wish affliction was more worthwhile though, it really does seem like shadow bolt spam wins in terms of DPS.

You need to give your lock some lovin' imo! ;)

Jagoex said...

Hmm. At 850ish Shadow Dmg and your Crit and Hit %, a UA build should out DPS a Ruin build. What are your numbers, on average?

Anonymous said...

The advice about the energy drinks is spot on, but if i was drinking H2O instead of Rockstar, I'd have to bio after every pull ;)

Anonymous said...

Save money on soap and shampoo, not to mention water, by skipping that whole "bathing" thing.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Great blog sir.

Anonymous said...

While most of that's fairly common sense, #3 for the most part is fairly sensationalist. While a PS3 on and running full-bore (like running Folding@Home) does suck up power like a mofo, in standby mode it uses very little power. Here's some numbers...

My refrigerator running at a fairly low setting uses .044 kW/h.

My PS3 running Folding@Home uses .174 kW/h.

However, the PS3 running for over 9 hours used so little power that I couldn't even measure it.

So yes, if you're running your PS3 at 100% all month long, then yes, it'll use about 4x as much power as your fridge, but if you just play it for a few hours and then shut it down, it does a good job of conserving power.

Anja said...

Great work.

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