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Subject: Boardgames: Higher Entertainment Value Than You Thought! rss

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Charles Stanley
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When it comes to entertainment value it's a little known fact that board games, from Monopoly(sorry for cursing) all the way to Puerto Rico, have what I would consider the one of the highest entertainment values of all types of entertainment. What types do I mean? Well, let me list them.
You have:

Video Games
PC Games
Professional Sports Games
College Sports Games
MMORPG's
CCG's
Movies(both in theater and on DVD)
Books and more.

I'm sure you can think of more. But there is something that boardgames have that a lot of these(though not all) other forms of entertainment don't.

First of all, let me discuss how we will determine entertainment value. We will do this by taking the initial MSRP of the retail game, or in some cases, the average price of a ticket, and divide it by the expected number of hours out of game play or entertainment length.

First, let's look at MMORPG's. WoW and EVE online both run around 15-20 dollars a month. You might make a better deal if you buy a few months together, or even a year, but let's just go by month. If you were to play an average of 25hrs a week (which is a LOT) that would be .80 cents an hour. Not too bad, but not as good as a board game. Not to mention the fact that MMORPG's usually put you in front of a computer screen and away from the rest of the world for long periods of time. AS much fun as that is, it still doesn't provide as much social interaction or intelligent conversation as a board game can. Lord knows I love EVE online, but man can it hurt me financially and socially. [If you took the cost of an MMORPG at $15 a month for ten years (if it's supported that long) and divided that cost by an average of 25hrs a week, the cost per hour would be around $6.57. That's expensive entertainment.]

How about Video games? You pay $60 dollars to get the latest in style game, usually only to beat it in about 20 hrs worth of play. Now games like HALO may be the exception here because you can get online and play with your buddies, which vastly increases the amount of time played, so much so that I won't dare try and calculate it. However, one thing that we are forgetting when it comes to console games is the fact that you need a console to play. That adds at least 300 dollars to your total if you wanna buy it new or working. So let's say you go with HALO 3 on the XBOX 360. Your total price of ownership is around $400. If you were to play the game 100 hours(which is a LOT-over 4 days straight!) then you would be paying $4 dollars an hour to play. PC Games are not much different, except you need a PC instead of a console, which could cost even more than a console if modded right. So these I would lump together as one category.

How about CCG's? Well, I don't know a lot about them, and here at BGG they are considered boardgames, in a sense. All I know is that from what I've heard from store owners, on any given Friday Night Magic you can have your customers spending an average of $15 a night on new cards or supplies. Well, $15 dollars a week, even if every other week, is still more than it costs to play online, and playing CCG's requires a physical person across the table from you, so I'm sure the amount of hours played is even less than MMORPG's, which would only bring the average of dollars per hr played up.

Movies. Man, we love the movies nowadays. I made the front page of my local newspaper because I was first in line for the Star Wars Re-release in the late 90's. I skipped class to do it and I was there 48hrs before the ticket booth opened. However, how much entertainment value do we really get from movies? They are usually less than 2 hours long, and when we go to the theater, it costs at least $9 for the ticket nowadays. That doesn't include popcorn or a coke!(All those mad at Mayfair for changing their selling rules for retailers should really be attacking the concession stands at the movie theaters! That's a real crime.) So, for $9 dollars at two hours, that's $4.50. Oh and by the way, you went to the movie alone because to bring someone else, it would've been another $9!
On DVD? Its a little better in my opinion, however you can't forget the initial cost of a TV and a DVD player. Wal-Mart has 5 dollar dvd's now which is better, but most new ones are at least $20. Without the cost of the TV and DVD players added in that is $10 an hour for one viewing. get in at least 30 viewings, and you've got your price down to .66 cents. But when was the last time you watched a movie other than Monty Python's Holy Grail more than 30 times? hehe...me neither.

Sports Games. Well, these are different. And expensive. Most would tell you it's the experience that you are paying for, and I would tend to agree. The most I ever spent on a sports game was $80 to see the Houston Astros in the playoffs. They came from behind to win the game, so for me, it was worth it. However, the game only lasted about 4hrs. I'm sure we can do the math on that one. These are more a matter of how big a sports fan you are, but definitely more expensive than boardgames, which is the point I'm coming to.

Wow, things are really starting to add up!

Lastly, boardgames:
They come with everything you need to play them. No need for a TV, DVD player, PC or a console. You do, however, have to have at least one other person with you which is not much different than CCG's, so that fact could bring the playing time down unless the game has solitaire possibilities.
Last I checked, a good board game such as Power Grid, for example, can essentially provide 2-3 hrs of play per game, up to six people. Play that game 10 times a year and that is between 20-30 hours a year. Most board games, when taken care of, will last several years, if not a lifetime. Lets say for arguments sake, 10 years. So that is 200-300 hours worth of entertainment with friends and family and at the full MSRP price of 44.95 that is .15-.23 cents per hour!
So to sum up on board games, that is almost 300 hrs of entertainment, at an around .15 cents per hr. Not to mention boardgames are well documented to be great at teaching people to think and solve problems. Not only that, but you are almost always guaranteed to get social interaction out of them.

To sum up:[CPH=Cost per hour-played, or enjoyed]
MMORPG's-
CPH=$6.67
Video and PC games-
CPH=$4
CCG's-
CPH=Don't even wanna touch it.
Movies-
CPH=.66 cents-$5
Sports Games-
CPH=So variable its indefinable.
Board Games-
CPH=.15 cents(And that's without discounts!)

There are so many differences in all of these types of games and entertainment, it's up to you to decide what you are willing to pay for. If you like sports and are in love with a certain team, you are more willing to pay $80 a ticket like me to see them play. If you, however hate sports, then it is not worth it at all to you. You really must decide for yourself. But with all the recent hooplah going on about the prices for board games on BGG right now, I decided to write this little blirp so we could all take a second and realize, that even though $40-$50 for a game may not be in the budget right now, when we do find the right price, or save up enough for that special game we've been waiting for, let us not take for granted the value that game has for us in the long run. It has entertainment value and even family value(because it gets kids and parents together at the kitchen table for something to do together) that is surpassing to most other forms of entertainment. Only books would compare in my opinion. How can we put a price on that? Please guys, let's not take for granted what we have. Nor should we take for granted how valuable it is[board games] compared to all the other forms of entertainment that are out there that don't do as good of a job as bringing people together, or families together, like board games do.

-flabber23
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Alexander B.
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I've made this point many times on BGG.

I can play devil's advocate on it though:

-Many people spend lots on games and play them 0, 1, or a few times. In these cases, the cost can be quite high.

-Many forms of entertainment work almost as well solo or multiplayer, whereas most board games require several players, and in almost all cases, at least 1 other player. This is not always easy to arrange, especially if you are picky about what games you enjoy (like me). I pay around $5 in gas each way to my game club... so $10 isn't too cheap.

-PC games have actually given me much better value in many cases. I bought Age of Empires II and got about 1,200 hours of play for about $35. That is better than almost any entertainment I've ever bought. I think that my chess set beats it though. It was about $75 including board, pieces, and clock, and probably gave me well over 2,500 hours. However... that is pretty close as you can see. Compare that to even a game I really like, like Descent, that costed about $60 and I've gotten about 40 hours out of. Then there are games like Through the Desert that I played 3x and pretty much hated: not a good value at all.

-Some kinds of "board games" have actually been the very most expensive form of entertainment I've *ever* been involved with. I believe I spent about $1,200 on Mage Knight miniature and played it a total of about 20 hours. I've also paid as much as about $100 for MtG decks that I *never* got a chance to play... ouch! Now that is expensive.

So, yes, board games can be a great value... they also can be a very expensive hobby.

P.S. Book? Not really. If I use the library, sure, but I can put down an $8 paperback in about 4 hours... not all that cheap!
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I hear you.

I figured I'd point out (before someone mean and spiteful does) that there was a guy here who created a similar index a couple years ago... Kobra1 is his userid.

As Alex pointed out there are other ways to derive entertainment value from a game and some games offer it without being played... lots of BGG'ers collect. To them, that's entertainment. To me it's clutter.

Anyway, you're right. When a good game is purchased it does provide a real bang-for-buck value. The best part of that value for me is that the entertainment doesn't have a short half-life. I played Settlers probably 150 times the first couple of years after it was published. Then I didn't play a single game of it for probably 5 or 6 years. Then I opened it up one night, taught it to an entirely new group of people and have played it again another 50 or so times. I can put it away now for another 5 years and that game is still there waiting to entertain me again.

Nice post.
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Gabe Alvaro
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Still, it's a nice comprehensive review of all the ways board games have high entertainment value you've provided us Charles. It's just probably better aimed at non-gamers than it is preaching to the choir.
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Ray
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I think models like these are flawed. They assume a zero base of $0 income per hour which isn't true (your time in a society with a viable economy does have a worth). There are jobs out there you can enjoy doing that pay money to problem solve. Your base has to be an income of some rate (So begin with a $0 base that reflects a $5 or $10 per hour rate and taking time to not work is a negative amount against that base.)

Thus a better hypothetical model is $5 (or $10) lost per hour not working and to that you add the cost paid to get the game. Gaming is an expense -- in time and money because time is money. Ditto for expressing TV watching, glue sniffing, and other sedentary habits as negative hourly rates. Ultimately what is enjoyable (and this includes work) is subjective and learning to enjoy work (with the skills to support that) is IMHO a better base for these types of discussions.
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Alexander B.
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wtrollkin2000 wrote:
I think models like these are flawed.... $5 or $10 per hour rate and taking time to not work is a negative amount against that base.)

Thus a better hypothetical model is $5 (or $10) lost per hour not working and to that you add the cost paid to get the game....


Lost? None of this makes any sense to me unless you don't accept the concept of "entertainment". If money is the only thing of importance, then what you are talking about is true... since it obviously isn't (even to those who believe it is), then it makes sense to divide entertainment hours (that are not expected to be paid) by dollar cost.

For me, "fun" (pleasure, enjoyment) is the most important thing in life, and work is what I do to both help people (which can be fun at times, but isn't always), and to buy more non-work fun. Those who don't find board gaming more fun than working certainly aren't going to buy any games at all: why?
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Dean Messneer
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My group and I use a different way to value the worth of a entertainment item (DVD, Computer game, Boardgame..and so on). Just divide the number of times played,watched, or incriment of days into the cost, if the the cost comes out to less than a movie ticket at a matinee price then we figure we got our monies worth.

For example: we bought Runebound for about $40 we have played just the basic game at least 12 times so the cost after the math would be $3.34. Whuch is cheaper than amovie around here($6.50 for the cheap show).


We do know other factors will figure in to this, fun,length, and others.
 
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Stephen Harkleroad
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wtrollkin2000 wrote:
I think models like these are flawed. They assume a zero base of $0 income per hour which isn't true (your time in a society with a viable economy does have a worth). There are jobs out there you can enjoy doing that pay money to problem solve. Your base has to be an income of some rate (So begin with a $0 base that reflects a $5 or $10 per hour rate and taking time to not work is a negative amount against that base.)

Thus a better hypothetical model is $5 (or $10) lost per hour not working and to that you add the cost paid to get the game. Gaming is an expense -- in time and money because time is money. Ditto for expressing TV watching, glue sniffing, and other sedentary habits as negative hourly rates. Ultimately what is enjoyable (and this includes work) is subjective and learning to enjoy work (with the skills to support that) is IMHO a better base for these types of discussions.


To be fair, this is a consideration to either task. That $5 lost is lost whether it's spent watching TV or playing boardgames, so it's acceptable to compare it. And that's what this list is doing, comparing different levels of entertainment, not the cost of entertaining in the first place.
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Stephen Harkleroad
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diamondspider wrote:
Lost? None of this makes any sense to me unless you don't accept the concept of "entertainment". If money is the only thing of importance, then what you are talking about is true... since it obviously isn't (even to those who believe it is), then it makes sense to divide entertainment hours (that are not expected to be paid) by dollar cost.

For me, "fun" (pleasure, enjoyment) is the most important thing in life, and work is what I do to both help people (which can be fun at times, but isn't always), and to buy more non-work fun. Those who don't find board gaming more fun than working certainly aren't going to buy any games at all: why?


Opportunity cost is a common metric for any such endeavor. Economists often have to "control" this factor, so in any list that you create you do, in fact, have to factor it in.

In a related notion which might help put things in perspective, if you get $.66 worth of enjoyment from a movie and $.15 for a board game, you are "saving" .51, not .66; you have to look at the *next most viable* form of entertainment, not zero. This is a common misapplication (though not one that you made in this case) of many similar studies.
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Alexander B.
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Coase wrote:

...
Opportunity cost is


Yes, Tom, I'm familiar with opportunity cost. I'm also familiar with attempts to inappropriately stretch concepts from one area (economics) into another (entertainment).

My point is that it could equally be looked at the other way around, if I value my life in "units of pleasure per hour" rather than "dollars per hour", then work is already more expensive than a walk in the park, since work costs me pleasure points.

Merely bringing dollar cost into the equation doesn't mean that the discussion defaults to "all potential dollar costs including opportunity cost". On the contrary, for me, every action I take has many many kinds of costs and benefits, rarely are they mutually exclusive, but they are all constantly factoring into my life.

I like your point about how since most entertainment is non-paid, that non-payment is a wash: that is actually a clearer way of making the point I was attempting to make.
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Marco Grubert
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blindspot wrote:
It's just probably better aimed at non-gamers than it is preaching to the choir.

I think it only works when preaching to the choir since equal entertainment value per time is assumed. As non-choir-boy I would rate playing 1 hour of Half-Life to be more entertaining than say 1 hour of Arkham Horror. Aside from that the OP is basically advocating replayability as main selling point- a standard deck of cards or a set of dice therefore has a tremendous entertainment value.
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Ray
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diamondspider wrote:
wtrollkin2000 wrote:
I think models like these are flawed.... $5 or $10 per hour rate and taking time to not work is a negative amount against that base.)

Thus a better hypothetical model is $5 (or $10) lost per hour not working and to that you add the cost paid to get the game....


Lost? None of this makes any sense to me unless you don't accept the concept of "entertainment". If money is the only thing of importance, then what you are talking about is true... since it obviously isn't (even to those who believe it is), then it makes sense to divide entertainment hours (that are not expected to be paid) by dollar cost.

I accept the subjectivity of entertainment and that additional work is also entertaining. To argue that additional side work cannot be entertaining and that it should not be part of a worth equation is IMHO too pessimistic a life view (we can't find work that is fun and entertaining?) To me the lose can't only be a cost in dollars but also incorporate a cost in hours as time is also precious like money.

I don't need to change anyone else view in this. I merely want them to be aware of this other model for cost of entertainment as there are ways to model cost that includes time (something that doesn't happen the same way with the other model).
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Charles Stanley
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Cross_ wrote:
... the OP is basically advocating replayability as main selling point- a standard deck of cards or a set of dice therefore has a tremendous entertainment value.


I think you got my sentiments down pat. I wasn't looking for an economic debate, just trying to reiterate that board gaming is more cost effective than some of us realize. We can play these (board) games over and over(if its a good one) and not have to worry about a scratch making it skip(DVD, Console game) nor do we have to worry about buying consoles or the latest video cards, or now; BluRay or HDDVD players. We only have to buy the game and keep it moderately well taken care of. It's just a thought. It's one of the reasons I love board games so much.
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Charles Stanley
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wtrollkin2000 wrote:
I merely want them to be aware of this other model for cost of entertainment as there are ways to model cost that includes time (something that doesn't happen the same way with the other model).


How did I not include time in the original model? I divided the cost of the entertainment by the hours invested in the entertainment. The result was cost per hours played, not cost per hours owned. I guess I should have clarified that better. I see your point, but I am only comparing different types of entertainment and the hours we dedicate to each of them, not how we dedicate all of the other hours of our day, every day throughout our lives. That would be a whole other website.
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Matthijs v S
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Piece of paper: 0.02$
pencil: 0.60$
20 sided dice: 1.20$

over 200 sessions of Delaam roleplay (home-made system), averaging at about 6 hours each: priceless

yes, that's about 1200 hours of entertainment and social interaction for less than 2 dollars.
CPH: a tenth of a cent



I dare anyone to beat that
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brthrdom wrote:
My group and I use a different way to value the worth of a entertainment item (DVD, Computer game, Boardgame..and so on). Just divide the number of times played,watched, or incriment of days into the cost, if the the cost comes out to less than a movie ticket at a matinee price then we figure we got our monies worth.

For example: we bought Runebound for about $40 we have played just the basic game at least 12 times so the cost after the math would be $3.34. Whuch is cheaper than amovie around here($6.50 for the cheap show).


We do know other factors will figure in to this, fun,length, and others.


My thoughts are similar, but u can further divide each session by the number of players.

If four people play a 40$ game twice that's 5$ a play. If you break it out more times the cost per play drops tremendously. If you had two people play at least 12 times, I believe you can fragment the initial outlay even further. They won't let me into the Cubs game though on just one ticket with the row of buddies in tow.

laugh
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Guy Riessen
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As much as I like boardgames, I have to say, for me and many people, computer strategy games and MMORPGs tend to be a much better value. For instance, if you take your stated cost of $20/month for a mmorpg, you could play that mmorpg for 2 months before you neared your $44 msrp for a boardgame. Again, taking your figure of 25 hours per week (which is not actually that much for the average mmorpg player), that would be 200 hours of gaming enjoyment.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I can't take anywhere near that much of the same boardgame in a 2 month period. If I'm going to play 100 hours per month of boardgaming there had better be at least 10 new games each month--or a cost of $440 per month. Since I buy at least 3/4 of the new boardgames, I'd be looking at $330 per month for the equivalent entertainment value.

Of course if you're figuring the cost for 4 people to play (and I don't particularly like 6 player games of any ilk--5 player Santiago is about my max, the overall cost per player diminshes for boardgames and increases for mmorpg players--but still not enough for equity. Cost for 4 mmorpg, $80 per month. Cost for 4 people to enjoy 10 boardgames per month at $44/game is still $110. And of course, that doesn't take into account the gas for the 4 people to drive wherever they go to play. Nor the fact that there is a lot of intrinsic value in being able to play whenever you want without having to wrangle 3 other people.



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I knew this would happen... it's like deja vu all over again... all we need now is kobra1 to come in and start correcting the math.
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flabber23 wrote:
First, let's look at MMORPG's. WoW and EVE online both run around 15-20 dollars a month. You might make a better deal if you buy a few months together, or even a year, but let's just go by month. If you were to play an average of 25hrs a week (which is a LOT) that would be .80 cents an hour. Not too bad, but not as good as a board game... [If you took the cost of an MMORPG at $15 a month for ten years (if it's supported that long) and divided that cost by an average of 25hrs a week, the cost per hour would be around $6.57. That's expensive entertainment.]

I totally don't understand the calculations here... at 25 hours a week, a $15 a month MMO (ie $180/year % 1300 hours) would be about 14c an hour. I certainly don't get the second calculation. MMOs are certainly great value on a cost per hour basis, but the gameplay is so unrewarding.

I love boardgames and would pass up other entertainment for one most of the time. However, they all provide different experiences, and a movie can certainly provide a more intense experience than a board game of similar length.

Many people bag on video games that are too short, but I'm finding that the experience is more important to me than the game length. Shadow of the Colossus was a freaking awesome game, but I finished it in about 8 hours. But still, fantastic value for money as the experience was unlike any other game.

On the flip side, I once played a 5 player game of Caylus that took 7 hours. I sure wasn't sitting there thinking I was getting my money's worth.

Edit: Hm, I should say that I do agree that board games are great value for money... unless you buy more than you can play blush
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flabber23 wrote:

Lastly, boardgames:
They come with everything you need to play them.


Well that's not true. First you need to buy a table and a number of chairs sufficient for the number of player for the game. Also you'll need friends to play with, and over years that will cost you money in birthday gifts, phone calls, etc. And then of course you need a house to play your games in and to put your table and chairs in, so now your cost is starting to get a bit extreme.

I'm not a fan of your "you need a tv to watch movies", and "you need a PC to play PC games" analysis. I'd say it's safe to assume that people already have a TV, game console, or PC if they are to consider paying for any of those forms of entertainment (because, of course, you don't need to buy a TV for *each* DVD you want to watch).
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Quote:
(because, of course, you don't need to buy a TV for *each* DVD you want to watch).


You don't? Shit. No wonder I owe $237,853.72 to Mastercard.
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flabber23 wrote:
wtrollkin2000 wrote:
I merely want them to be aware of this other model for cost of entertainment as there are ways to model cost that includes time (something that doesn't happen the same way with the other model).

How did I not include time in the original model? I divided the cost of the entertainment by the hours invested in the entertainment. The result was cost per hours played, not cost per hours owned.

Yes I missed a couple words that were repeated from my first paragraph. I should have written "includes idle time as a cost" to reiterate what I said above. You included time as unit of measurement, but not idle time as an expense. It's both. Tom rightly points out the two models are equivalent if you only look at the cost side, but what I propose doesn't. It incorporates the negative cost (or earnings side) as the base or counteracting portion. (and you acknowledge this in what you write about understanding the differences in our models). You could also incorporate the leisure time spent for profit side as a positive in your model and get the same result.

My whole issue is a model who don't include entertainment for profit as a component to offset entertainment at cost leads to a solution where the most time spent on zero cost entertainment is the most profitable entertainment. I prefer to think of an entertainment cost separate from the subjective unknown of satisfaction and to have a model where the cost side holds up without the subjective side (e.g. spending no money to sit at home to watch TV static all week isn't going to give a good number).
 
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Pistoolkip wrote:

yes, that's about 1200 hours of entertainment and social interaction for less than 2 dollars.
CPH: a tenth of a cent

I dare anyone to beat that

Public Library Card: $0

Time to walk to Public Library: 8 minutes

Using taxpayer dollars to browse user-generated content on the BGG: Priceless!
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Charles Stanley
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tatoolo wrote:
flabber23 wrote:

Lastly, boardgames:
They come with everything you need to play them.


Well that's not true. First you need to buy a table and a number of chairs sufficient for the number of player for the game. Also you'll need friends to play with, and over years that will cost you money in birthday gifts, phone calls, etc. And then of course you need a house to play your games in and to put your table and chairs in, so now your cost is starting to get a bit extreme.

I'm not a fan of your "you need a tv to watch movies", and "you need a PC to play PC games" analysis. I'd say it's safe to assume that people already have a TV, game console, or PC if they are to consider paying for any of those forms of entertainment (because, of course, you don't need to buy a TV for *each* DVD you want to watch).


HAHA, you got me there with the tables and houses. And good point with not having to buy a DVD player or a TV every time you watch a DVD, however, with the increasing graphics of computer games, I would not tend to agree with you on the PC side of things. I myself cannot play any of the new PC titles b/c my PC, even though only 3 years old, can not handle them, so therefore, I must either 1. upgrade, or 2. buy a new PC.
And on the matter of the consoles, they are making new consoles on the average of every 4 yrs now, and I only expect that to become smaller as technology advances, so I would not entirely (perhaps a little) agree with you on the matter of the console either.
 
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Sprydle wrote:
As much as I like boardgames, I have to say, for me and many people, computer strategy games and MMORPGs tend to be a much better value. For instance, if you take your stated cost of $20/month for a mmorpg, you could play that mmorpg for 2 months before you neared your $44 msrp for a boardgame. Again, taking your figure of 25 hours per week (which is not actually that much for the average mmorpg player), that would be 200 hours of gaming enjoyment.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I can't take anywhere near that much of the same boardgame in a 2 month period. If I'm going to play 100 hours per month of boardgaming there had better be at least 10 new games each month--or a cost of $440 per month. Since I buy at least 3/4 of the new boardgames, I'd be looking at $330 per month for the equivalent entertainment value.

Of course if you're figuring the cost for 4 people to play (and I don't particularly like 6 player games of any ilk--5 player Santiago is about my max, the overall cost per player diminshes for boardgames and increases for mmorpg players--but still not enough for equity. Cost for 4 mmorpg, $80 per month. Cost for 4 people to enjoy 10 boardgames per month at $44/game is still $110. And of course, that doesn't take into account the gas for the 4 people to drive wherever they go to play. Nor the fact that there is a lot of intrinsic value in being able to play whenever you want without having to wrangle 3 other people.




You know, I think you're right, what the heck did I do wrong...oh well, interesting enough thread now anyways. But I agree about MMORPG's, I love 'em, and you can definitely put more time into them than 25 hrs a week, I think I put 25hrs into one day with EVE-Online once. I was only trying to average it out. However, also consider that I did not compute the cost of playing a board game at one month, I computed it over several years, and tried(and apparently failed) to do the same with MMO. And when several players are involved, we should only divide the cost by number of players if all players involved helped to pay for the game. Agreed?
 
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