While I wouldn’t call it a “problem,” I have a bit of as shopping habit. In games. And before you start I’m with a “women and shopping” bit, just you hush. But…well, it is kind of bad. Just the other day, I spent over an hour in Grand Theft Auto V driving my character to different clothing stores in the game, trying on different stuff, and buying whatever I though looked good. I had no idea if my character was going to need his money in the future, but in that hour, it didn’t matter. I simply had to increase his wardrobe.
I’m a fan of character customization, but this shopping thing goes beyond that. Sure, if I’m going to spend a bunch of time with a character, I want him or her to look as good as possible. But in most cases, the clothing or armor you’re asked or made to buy are necessities. In GTA V, it isn’t (unless you need something for a specific mission). But every now and again, I get that spending itch that I simply must satisfy. And it doesn’t matter if I’m in the middle of a mission or out exploring. Once that thought worms its way into my mind, that “maybe Trevor needs as need pair of pants” train of thought, I can’t let go if it.
I recently started playing Sleeping Dogs, in which I experienced a slightly different example of the same problem. After completing a couple missions and gathering a little cash, I spent an entire session just visiting stores, clothing and otherwise. I had already been made to buy a new outfit, but it just wasn’t enough. As soon as I saw the little shirt icons all over the city, I couldn’t resist, even though I didn’t have much cause to buy anything. However, while perusing through the game’s many menus, I saw that articles of clothing were among the many things you could collect. What was the prize, I wondered? Was there anything like that in GTA V? Hmmm…my mind wandered…
Thing is, in games like GTA V and Sleeping Dogs, money is really easy to come by…lots of money. The amounts vary of course, but in both games you can make a pretty penny off of just side missions. So spending some coin on some new duds doesn’t always feel like it’s going to break the bank. And with the more side quests comes the promise of more money. There’s not it much to gain by hoarding your cash, so the games offer lots of opportunity to spend, spend, spend!
After going through decades of games where spending money wasn’t an option or where you were forced to be very frugal in your habits, there’s something decadent about being able to buy virtual items like there’s no tomorrow. And as I alluded to, my habits aren’t limited to clothes (though they are my preferred vice). In the Mass Effect games, you could collect items for your personal cabin like ship models and fish. I hardly ever visited my quarters in those games, and if I did, I never lingered about looking at all my stuff. In Mass Effect 2, I made a good effort with the fish, but the funny thing about live animals is that they tend to die if you forget to feed them. I didn’t make the same mistake in Mass Effect 3. Even now in Sleeping Dogs, I’m faced with multiple options to make my apartment look nicer; and I want so badly to get that new mattress and some air conditioning. But the more expensive something is, the more hesitant I am about purchasing it, obviously. So instead, I just go by a couple extra shirts. In Red Dead Redemption, a game where money was scarce, I got swept up in purchasing horses. (And then I developed an unfortunate gambling habit as I tried to keep my funds up.)
The only silver lining here us that my spending sprees in games don’t translate to real life, otherwise I’d be in serious trouble. But is there a habit/mild addiction in games that you just can’t quit?