3 lessons RPGs can teach everyone about economics

The world economy wouldn’t be in such terrible shape if everyone just played more RPGs. Even the most mundane entry in the genre can teach way more about handling money than any fancy college course you only took to satisfy your parents. You just need to understand that a spikey haired douche with a giant sword knows more about managing gil than you do with real dollars.

First and foremost, the guy has a job, and he works hard at it every day. True, saving the world is more of a contract position than a real career, but hunting monsters can easily be a lifelong profession. Not only that, but he’s passionate about it and puts in the long hours that real success requires.

Now think about yourself and all the time you waste going out with friends, playing video games, and reading some guy’s ramblings on the internet. Harnessing the power inherent in that wasted time would go a long way toward getting you the job of your dreams. It would also get you ahead in that career over the people still twiddling their thumbs and trying to beat Final Fantasy 8's Omega Weapon.

It’s not just working hard to get the shiny things you desire, though. If our chosen savior wants to buy the mythical sword of an ancient hero that the item shop for some reason sells, then he’s got to save up for it and cut out unnecessary spending. Disposable items can really cut into a budget (especially useless junk like potions and holy water), so limiting their consumption can do wonders for a wallet full of coins and put that +2 flaming bastard sword of smiting into an inventory much faster.


Similarly, stop going out to eat so much. A $4 coffee and a $7 sandwich may seem delectable every afternoon, but those tiny expenses add up to embarrassingly huge totals. If adventurers can get through with one less life bottle, then you can do it with one less slice of pizza.

But is everything you want really worth buying? Sure, our hero can buy those new boots, gauntlets, and a sword and look pretty darn sexy at the inn tonight, but they only raise his stats by a total of four points in exchange for thousands of gold coins and hours of monster killing. He’s probably better off replacing anything that’s broken or that has a massive upgrade available and then saving his dollars for more significant future boosts and replenishing phoenix downs after an unexpectedly tough boss.

You could slide by without any of this in Final Fantasy 6.

Likewise, that top-of-the-line phone you bought this year will be fine next year. Just because a fruity company told you that you aren’t cool anymore if you don’t have the newest stuff does not mean you should buy the next version as soon as possible. Learn to sit on a pad of reserve money. That way, you will be prepared for surprise evils, like accidents, job loss, or, heaven forbid, breaking your smartphone.

The typical RPG has so much left to teach people about how they gather, save, and spend their money, from diminishing returns on material investments to the effects of poverty on local militias. These basic lessons can go a long way toward lifting us from common street rats to the responsible adults we’re all supposed to be.

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