There comes a time in every man’s life when he has to either go big or go home. And most of the time, I prefer to go home – while home may have a bit of an ant problem, it’s still a comfortable place with a big TV and cabinets well stocked with liquor and Pop Tarts. If going big can’t provide those same amenities, it really doesn’t offer that much to me in the first place.
The reason I even bring this up is because the month long XBox Live subscription that had been gifted to me after my return from Hollywood recently ran out, and my life is such a low stakes game that the choice between paying money to get murdered by racist Southern 13 year olds online or not constitutes a ‘go big or go home’ moment.
Going big, in this case, would be to bite the bullet and drop $50 on a year’s worth of XBox Live. Going home would be to return to my old habit of sitting around investing 75-odd hours into Fallout 3, which is slightly more depressing than doing the same in Modern Warfare 2 because at least when you pour your life into an online game you’re squandering your best years with other people.
I was reluctant to go big because I truly hate spending money, in spite of how often I do it. When I spend money, I like it to go towards something tangible – a Philly Cheesesteak I can eat, a Mrs. Beer I can drink, an escort service with some sort of AAA certification. Buying XBox Live is like paying for the Internet, which is A) Intangible and 2) Something I already pay for.
Also, I’ve always been reluctant to subscribe to XBox Live because you’re paying for a big block of time, instead of per use. I was in no hurry to spend a bunch of money on something and then potentially not get my money’s worth if I’m not actively using it. I’m big on getting my money’s worth – this is why, when I go to Red Robin, I make a point of eating every last scrap of that $12 hamburger,* because by God, I paid for it.
*Coincidentally, this practice usually leads me to use their bathrooms, which, as they’re reserved for paying customers only, is yet another thing I feel my $12 entitles me to do.
Every minute I’m not on XBox Live, I can hear my $50 investment dribbling away, 13 cents every day getting funneled into Bill Gates’ pocket, him cackling as I pay for services he hasn’t rendered. When you buy a gym membership, the thought of the money you don’t want to waste will ideally inspire you to go work out. With XBox Live, the thought of the money you don’t want to waste inspires you to sit on your ass and play more video games. So really, nobody wins except Microsoft and the cholesterol building a pillow fort in your arteries.
That’s really what XBox Live is – it’s a gym membership for inactive people. You don’t work your muscles; you work your Kill/Death ratio. Instead of building up your own personal appearance, you build up your online avatar’s appearance, earning new military rankings and logos for people to look at after you kill them. All the time you invest in a game like Modern Warfare 2 goes toward impressing people online but doesn’t do much for you in real life, likewise, being strong in real life doesn’t carry a lot of weight on XBox Live (I can’t tell you how many falsetto-voiced opponents have told me they’re black belts and threatened to beat me up).
As much as I never wanted to be That Guy at the gym with his oddly tight shorts or his special protein bars that for some reason don’t involve bacon, I also never wanted to be That Guy with the Live subscription and the party chat headset, deeming weapons ‘noob cannons’ depending on how recently I’ve been killed by one. There’s nothing wrong with being That Guy – lord knows a lot of my friends are – but it’s just not the guy that I thought I was.
In spite of all these reasons that I didn’t want to go big, I did – I went big in a big way. I picked up a used copy of Modern Warfare 2 and bought a Live subscription on the same day – that’s nearly $100 I’ve invested in a game that will be obsolete when the new installment comes out next month.
I bought a Live subscription because I’m addicted. XBox Live is like crack. Playing XBox Live with my three roommates, our clan doing battle with the prepubescent foul mouthed homophobes of the Internet, is, if possible, better than crack. It’s like a crack flavored Hostess Fruit Pie. As much as I wanted to pretend to be above all of this, I’m not. Were it not for the fact that I had to write this blog and then do a week’s worth of homework for one of my classes in 24 hours, I’d be playing right now.
Hopefully one day I’ll get addicted to a healthy pastime, like swimming or fresh vegetable eating contests. Until then, my GamerTag is ThriftyHair Guy – feel free to be impressed by how cool my online avatar guy looks.
Truman Capps encourages the Boise State and Washington State fans who hate him so much to seek him out on Live and settle this like men – immature, bitchy men.