Real-life shopping. Unless you enjoy shambling about like an extra in a Romero flick, it's a mostly soul-destroying activity that ranks somewhere between 'watching The X Factor' and 'tasting vomit' on our list of Things We'd Rather Not Do If We Can Help It. So it's testament to the subversive qualities of games that they can make shopping not suck. How do games do it - what makes shopping in games so much more enjoyable than shopping in real-life? We think these might have *something* to do with it...
Shopkeeper not providing a satisfactory service? Kill him. Then nick the money out the cash register. It's retail therapy at its finest.
Games have an extremely relaxed approach to the trading and ownership of dangerous weapons. It doesn't matter that we're playing as a bare-chested, extravagantly coiffured teenager - if we want a 7ft broadsword we can buy a 7ft broadsword. And no virtual shopkeeper has ever demanded to see a gun licence before handing over a pair of shiny new Desert Eagles. Even cute little cel-shaded Link can wander into a bomb shop and fill his inventory with explosives. It's not socially responsible, but shopping is officially better when it involves stockpiling weapons.
Snarky demons, entrepreneurial raccoon dogs, OAP ninjas, aggressive parrots... unless you're on a Fear and Loathing dosage of mind-bending narcotics, real-world shopkeepers are pretty grey and boring compared to the bizarre array of vendors that video games have to offer. The weekly shop would be so much more bearable if the dude at the checkout spoke like a pirate and had a trench coat full of weapons.
The worst thing about real-life shopping is that you'll return from your encounter with high street commerce with far less money than you started out with. That's how shopping works. And we hate it. So we love the fact that in the upside-down world of games we can take any old piece of shit that we happen to find lying about the place, take it to a shop and they'll buy it. It's a brilliant system that we wish our local convenience store would adopt.
Sure, video games take some perverse pleasure in making us wait around for mandatory installs and the next level to load up, but at least we get prompt service in their shops. We're always the only customer that seems interested in actually buying anything, so we never have to stand about in queues with all the other consumer mental bovines. And the staff are always ready to serve - you'll never find Tom Nook 'out the back' jerking off over some dirty tanuki porn.
February 11, 2010
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