While looking up some footage of paste Aleste games on Youtube and NicoNico fora possible future post, I happened to see a video asking if the upcoming Aleste Collection was worth buying. I don’t go for these kinds of videos, because the answer is personal for everyone. If you find value, joy or usefulness in something, that the purchasing a product is probably your best bet. Price is determined just how much you value these elements in that given product. While we can discuss and argue the objective and subjective values of buying anything and if they’re worth the purchase, but ultimately our purchasing habits are based on the whole idea of personal value. We don’t buy what we don’t value personally. Sometimes it’s not the item itself that we value, but the prestige and the status it brings. A classical example would be brand clothing, shoes and bags that cost more than most people make in a year’s salary as they’re status symbols first and foremost. The materials and work put into these pieces in no way would match up with the price they’re going for.
Buying games, or entertainment media in general, shows how much we value it. Especially if it’s something we don’t have to do or make ourselves because making good entertainment is stupidly hard. Let me rephrase that: Good entertainment is stupidly hard to make. It’s rather easy to make lousy entertainment with all your energy and effort you can muster. Even then the most incompetent works can be found entertaining for all the wrong reasons, which has allowed ‘tube channels like Red Letter Media to build their career on. That’s a whole another subject though. If you read the guest posts that are coming up in few more parts in the upcoming months about Star Trek Enterprise, you’ll probably get an idea how much it irks the consumer when something that’s been done well, masterfully even, subsequently turns into slog and quality goes to the trash. While it has always been a contest between consumers on what’s their favourite series is and what’s the worst one out there. You’ll find people arguing over what they value in a show over another. For some, the fact that Voyager has Janeway as the captain is enough to consider it as the best entry while others will say that about Deep Space Nine with Sisko. While we are taught in school the value of objective assessment (or at least the media education we got did, your mileage may vary depending on your education system) and how to assess material purely on its true merits rather than subjective points, we will more or less always default to liking something and simply say something is good. While we can use our noggin’ to think on merits and describe them in a proper fashion, the default in discussions on the Internet seems to be subjectivity being the king. While I could chide about this, there’d be no real reason. That subjectivity is the winning march of marketing and emotional contact we make brands and products.
It could be argued that we don’t need much in our lives and that our houses would be rather empty if we didn’t value non-essential. You can argue what is and what isn’t non-essential, but let’s put the line between what allows you to live and what’s extra. Some people need computers on their line of work, others don’t. Nobody really needs television, as news unrelated to our daily survival is mostly an extra (is my house going to burn down thanks to that forest fire?). Books, movies, other forms of entertainment we have either on our shelves or are paying to access via a subscription are, in the end, just extra as well. We could put the time and effort to produce whatever things to entertain ourselves just fine. That is a rather harsh line and view to make, but it all ends up that it’s not the most effective way of living or making a living. Life might become rather dull and not everyone learns the expertise to make the best of things. More often than not, what you are able to create is not at the level of delivering the expected quality for others, no matter how much time you put into it. You can also argue that entertainment, or play, is essential to human nature as all higher or more advanced forms of life play. It seems to be an essential part of life and being able to continue to live on. What the stimulation entertainment gives us is in many ways essential as it’s a form of play that’s transformed and mutated into further forms. Some people are able to play with things to the point of no one else being able to match them. If you’re reading that as art being rather non-essential thing, something that’s taken to an extreme extent and at its core may not be necessary to society, that’s what it is. Playing itself seems to be an essential thing to life, and art overall is taking forms of play further and further, giving it new meaning. We’re not satisfyed “just” to play around at some point, we have to take things to a point where there’s “meaning” to it. However, that’s just another argument attempting to raise your eyebrows, as the whole point is the other side of the coin; what could be non-essential is necessary nevertheless due to its nature of stimulating us and willingness to give up resources for it.
Take this blog as an example. The main point isn’t to entertain anyone. If I were, this blog would be nothing but Muv-Luv and Guilty Gear posts. I’m entertaining myself with these posts. There’s no value for me to trying to cater or sell it as a service, as that would lessen my own entertainment value. While the emotional connection to this thing is close to nil, it does offer me other benefits like forcing myself to consider more than one side of things. While in the persona, being in the middle of the road and consider things from outside my own angle of view has benefitted me, but that’s a past thing now. If you find a value of some kind in these typings, that’s just a big bonus from my end. I hope you value whatever entertainment you happen to find. The blog’s not a necessary thing for either of us, but it has some value, seeing it’s worth for me to exchange the time I have to write this trite and you to read it.
However, there is a downside to all this. We tend to value what we can’t have or what we can’t afford. You might want that Gucci bag, but your monetary situation doesn’t really allow you to. We end up taking loans to pay what we can’t afford. Often this value comes from outside, like a car that has high prestige to it, but has no real use or is cumbersome. Cars like the classic Countach or DeLorean from Back to the Future are hailed as exemplary cars in design or due to their pop-culture status, but as real cars, they were rather shit and not suitable for any proper driving. Both had deep flaws you wouldn’t find in cheaper cars, yet they were valued higher and in few ways still are. We are willing to overlook significant flaws either in our own situations or in the products themselves, if they meet our wants. What we want may not be what we need, and marketing has made it a finely tuned craftsmanship how to tell and influence us in order to tell us what we need. What we feel we need is rarely in connection what we truly need, yet that want for something is often too much to handle.