by Chris Brown
Right now, at this very moment, stupid people are popping up right under your nose. Stupid people are turning up everywhere on a gaming console near you. A stupid person may even be staring you in the bathroom mirror every morning. If you have ever paid for a dashboard theme, avatar clothing, gamerpics, Playstation Home furniture, or alternate costumes for your playable character you have joined the growing ranks of stupid people who use their real money to pay for digital cosmetic content.
Lately I’ve being hearing on several podcasts a lot of pronouncements that a certain class of people are stupid on the PS3 or Xbox 360. These skype-savy soapbox owners claim that if you have ever paid to download a theme, an avatar, clothes for your avatar or video game character, or gamer pics you have joined the mass of stupid people who are ruining video gaming. These podcasters will tell you that you are throwing away money, hand over fist, if you use it to “trick out” your in-game car, walk around Home in your Resident Evil outfit, or checking out your friends list on your Castle Crashers Premium Theme.
I mention this growing threat of stupid people because as Playstation Home grows there will be more opportunities to buy more ’stuff’ for your virtual home or character. On August 11, the Xbox 360 will get another dashboard update that will bring an Avatar Marketplace so gamers can now buy clothing and props for their avatars. As games become more social, there will be more oppurtunities to make how you relate to the online world more personal, and often there is a real world price tag attached to the purchase. I’m here to say, it’s okay. We shall dare to be stupid and to paraphrase Martin Luther, “Sin Boldly” as we carve up online experiences that may come at a cost but offer some limited personalization.
So I say to you if this be stupid then wear it with a badge of pride because you chose to make your experience with your beloved console or online presence a little more personalized and just maybe a little more you. These self-righteous podcasters and forum-baiters say that this will encourage more of these kinds of tranactions. They warn that online stores will fill to the brim with myriads of microtransactionable bits of fashionable ones and zeroes. To this I say, bring it! I welcome more choices and more personalization. I long for the day when every avatar won’t be wearing the same outfit. I applaud having a virtual home in Playstation Home that features my idealized loft. I yearn for my avatar to sport his very own Half-Life 2 crowbar and Gordon Freeman approved glasses. It all comes down to what you place value in. To some, the thought of using real money to pay for something that doesn’t add to gameplay is a waste. Fair enough, but when these folks start demeaning those that would pay for cosmetic content, it demoralizes the group.
The reality is online cosmetic content isn’t going away. It’s going to increase, but for these podcasters and forum members that chagrin this movement I wouldn’t worry because it won’t be replacing the content that you do find value in. For us “stupid people”, there’s nothing wrong in wanting to personalize our gaming experience even if it comes with a price tag attached to it.