I bought a new video game this weekend. It was my favorite kind. Cheap. I decided a long time ago that almost no video game was worth fifty dollars. I used to be one of those who loved to play the latest and greatest video games but somewhere around the time of the first Tomb Raider game that all ended.

The Sony Playstation was in a large part responsible for cooling my enthusiasm. When it first came out everybody loved the Playstation. Everybody but me. I didn’t have anything against it. I wasn’t inherently bad or anything it was just that, in those days, any game that was in 3D was considered impressive. You could make a game about two guys walking down some stairs and if it was in 3D people would rave about it. Game play actually went backward for a couple of years as the technology went forward. I would point out to friends that the new game they loved had horrible game play and their answer was always the same, “But it’s in 3D”.

Lots of bad fifty dollar but in 3D video games broke me of wanting the latest and greatest games available. It is not a good feeling spending fifty bucks on a game, getting home, popping it in the console and trying to like it. That is what I would do. I would try to like it. My friends would ask me how it was and I’d say, “It’s not so bad” or “It’s pretty good” with little enthusiasm. My friends would have that same reaction after buying a bad game. It took about a week to admit to ourselves that we wasted our money on a game. A week of forcing ourselves to play the game as the inevitable realization sank in. We were video game fans and read all the gaming magazines (this was before the internet) so the anticipation for the latest and greatest game was always high. The crash of disappointment was just as low but it took a while to sink in.

I also used to be an early adopter of systems in general. Home consoles and hand helds I had them all. I learned my lesson with the Playstation in this regard too. I never bought a PS2 and got an XBox only a couple of years ago. Until then I was having a good time with the Sega Dreamcast and its stable of cheap last generation games and peripherals. That is the thing I insist on when getting a new system. A solid stable of under twenty dollar games to choose from. This means I am not getting a PS3 or XBox 360 any time soon. A small stable of fifty dollar games doesn’t do the job.

The exception to this twenty dollar rule is the killer ap. It is possible that one really good game can get me to buy a system. I bought a Nintendo DS just because Advance Wars 3 came out for it. A used DS and the game cost me under $150 so price had something to do with it too. I am unlikely to drop $600 on a PS3 or XBox 360 for just one game. As pretty as the Playstation Portable is $200 for the system plus fifty dollars a game is steep. Especially since most of the games are ports and can be found on other systems for half the price or less. And don’t get me started on Sony memory sticks. Still, it is a pretty thing.

The game that I bought this weekend? It is “Deus Ex Invivible War” for the XBox. It got great reviews when it came out in 2003. It was originally fifty bucks but I bought it used for $4.20 tax included. Yes, that is how fast video games become nearly worthless. Does anything lose its value faster than a video game? I can’t think of any other pop culture entertainment that sells for eight percent of its original retail price just three years later. You can’t get a fifty dollar DVD set for four dollars. Even last year’s issues of Aquaman go for more than eight percent of their cover price. And no one wants Aquaman comics.

I have yet another video game rule that keeps me from liking a lot of modern games. I think a game should be able to be played for twenty minutes and then put down. I often only have twenty minutes to play so it is a practical rule but also a philosophical one. I want a game with my video game. So often video games are about something other than an actual game. They are about being in an environment or being dragged through a story. If I stop playing a game for a week or two and then come back to it I should be able to pick it up no problem. That is not the case with a lot of games. In some if you forget what you were doing you will be lost and have to start over. You are really just following one specific trail and if you lose its scent the game is pointless. As a matter of fact there is no game just a path to walk.

I also hate cut scenes though they are hard to avoid these days. I don’t want a story. I want a game. Movies, books and comics are better at telling stories than video games ever will be. I want my game to be a game not a fourth rate movie.

I’m not interested in any game that can’t be saved on the fly. I don’t want to find a check point in order to save. I don’t want to spend twenty minutes going through a level only to die and then having to spend twenty minutes going through the same level to get back to where I was. Saving should not be part of the “challenge” of the game.

Yes, I have a lot of demands of my video games. You can see why I don’t play them as often as I once did.