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Screaming Jackass: Social Commentary


by Reverend Scott Shafer
August 3, 2001

There are times when I do not take a lot of pleasure in gaming...well, not in gaming per se, but in my actions regarding gaming. For lack of a better term I am an addict... as far as games are concerned. I do not drink to excess, but in order to supply my gaming habit I will sell plasma, use credit that I cannot and buy again...without reading or playing what I have bought.

This is compulsive behavior...I cannot buy just one item from a game line, but I must buy them all. Several years ago I received a copy of a supplement for Trinity from for review. I reviewed the supplement...and bought the game...and bought another supplement and another. I never stop with just one. Several years ago I bought a copy of GURPS Atomic my shelves creak with the weight of GURPS books.

This behavior doesn't just end with pen and paper games. I have a dear friend who gave me a Sega Dreamcast. This is something that I would not...could not buy for myself...and he gave one to me. I should have said, "No thank you." Just because I had been given a razor, didn't mean that I would have the money to pay for the I knew, or I had an inkling that I would not be able to stop with just one game.

I bought Crazy Taxi on the credit card, then on the way home (I was helping my parents move to a new church position at the time) I stopped and bought NFL 2K, and Powerstone. This was supposed to be the end of it...after all these were some of the finest games on the system. But once I had the finest games, then my standards lowered, and there were more games that I sought to have.

Granted, I have played many of these video games...but I have not finished Shenmue, Grandia 2, Skies of Arcadia, or Phantasy Star Online. I pick up a game for a while, only to become distracted by some new experience. This has played havoc with my gaming took over six months for me to decide on a game system...let alone genre to play in. Now we play D&D 3E.

Now WOTC has done a good job in not flooding the market with material...but there's so much D20 stuff out there. I don't want to get one thing...I want to get everything! So I cajole, weasel, and spend.

My daughters don't mind. After all daddy keeps on bringing them some neat stuff as well. But they are starting to ask questions, "Why don't we have any money this month? Why can't I buy a new pair of shoes? Will we be poor forever?" Now we do have money for food...our bills are paid...but our debt grows...and my game shelf just feels more and more like an anchor. I do not want to have to explain where their college fund went by pointing at a mint copy of a white box set of D&D.

When I was helping my parents move...I had to help move six huge garment boxes of my mother's. These boxes were huge and heavy, but they were not filled with clothes. These boxes were filled with romance novels! Garment boxes are they sagged and nearly split down the middle when we tried to lift them. Have you ever tried to lift a garment box filled with books while trying to keep the box and lid together so you could secure them with duct tape? It ain't easy.

I do not want to be sixty years old hauling around boxes of games. Now I wouldn't mind hauling around things that I had played or used...but collecting stuff is hard on the back. I want to buy...not merely consume.

So I have been selling off bits and pieces of my collection on eBay. At first I was selling much more than I was spending...but lately I haven't been selling at all. Things have been a bit busier in the parish...but I've been in a funky mood as well. I'm looking at my collections and deciding what should stay and go.

I have several complete sets of games...Space 1889, 2300AD, Fifth Cycle, SpellJammer. My group is currently playing 3E, but there's going to be character class books, the Forgotten Realms campaign, White Wolf's Ravenloft, all that great stuff from Necromancer. I could probably afford to just get basic D&D stuff...but all of that other stuff is a strain. I couldn't buy one Penumbra module, but I had to buy all of them.

Or should I stay with games from companies that take forever and a day to release things...Fading Suns, the Traveller reprints from Far Future Enterprises, anything from Necromancer games or Pagan Publishing? That would give me time to wouldn't cost as much money monthly...but sometimes I just grab whatever is there in the store. I won't wait.

Did I mention that I like comic books? I pick up a slew of DC Archive editions, and Marvel Essential volumes from Mile High comics. They run about 50% off, which is a great deal, but what if I can't afford the volume even at 50% off?

I spent over $400 on the credit card last month on manga alone...I picked up 6 Lone Wolf and Cub volumes, 7 Oh My Goddess! volumes, 4 Appleseed volumes, 7 Outlander volumes (still looking for #4 TPB), Ghost in the Shell, Domu, 2 Domion volumes, Akira, a stack of The Legend of Mother Sarah, and the list goes on. I did this because my wife is getting an inheritance...and I know that we'll have to use that money somewhere to help with our debts. So why not splurge? So why not spend someone else's money?

We've received inheritances before, and used them to pay off debts only to go into debt again. This is the last inheritance...we could have bought a house with the money that I have blown. We could be so much better off if I would just use the money that I had on hand...rather than projecting forward with credit.

We're going into credit counseling at the end of the month. If you're wondering...I am in counseling already for a problem with depression. What brought this mood on was a list of "symptoms" at one of the credit counseling sites describing compulsive behavior using credit cards. Not every thing on the list fit me...but I was in there.

I do not know what is going to be happening in the next few months. I do not know which games I'll be keeping, and which I'll be selling. What I do know is that things cannot continue in the way that they are going. I can only write so many articles, sell so much plasma, use so much credit, before things get out of hand. When I was in college I didn't have much money, my shelves didn't sag with books...but I read what I got cover to cover...and I got the best stuff that money could buy...

My name is Scott Shafer. I am an addict.

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What do you think?

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All Screaming Jackass columns by Scott Shafer

  • Addiction August 3, 2001
  • Top Ten Reasons Why I Love TSR/Wizards February 28, 2001
  • Top Ten Reasons Why I Hate TSR/Wizards May 18, 2000
  • Shelves March 30, 2000
  • Production Values June 22, 1999
  • Science Fiction Games May 25, 1999
  • Online Auctions April 27, 1999

    Other columns at RPGnet

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