Thursday, May 21, 2009

The media effects paradigm has been validated!

So, the girlfriend is still sick, three and a half months since she became too ill to attend class, and we're still trying to figure out why. I'm coping with the uncertainty by spending an inordinate amount of time with my DS.

On that note, I picked up Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, mostly for her benefit, as I'm not as into GTA as most of my particular subgroup, it would seem. I liked San Andreas a whole lot, but mostly because of the RPG elements that have been absent from the more recent iterations. But, after having failed to complete Fire Emblem more times than I care to admit, I gave Chinatown Wars a try, and was pleasantly surprised. Then, something disturbing happened.

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars has completely desensitized me to market capitalism.

Oh, it started out as a way to break up the monotony of the story missions. A little E here, some downers there. Buy low, sell high. Not complicated. But soon, without any conscious effort, I began looking at the numbers more closely. In describing the game, I found myself using the term "ROI" in reference to my purchasing patterns. I began purchasing additional safehouses in key neighborhoods to lower the risk of getting pinched with six grand of smack on my person. (No, it still doesn't have any concept of "prison," but losing a hundred bucks and all your guns is a hell of a lot less threatening than losing a hundred bucks, your guns, and some small packages that were the fruits of an entire hour of gameplay.) I once found myself very frustrated when I couldn't afford to make a purchase I needed for a mission. I wasn't broke, you see; I had assets out the wazoo. The trouble was, I had no liquidity. Everything I had was tied up in weed, which nobody was interested in buying because the goddamn Jamaicans were flooding the market with their cheap shit, just like fucking Microsoft. Prices were low, and stayed low for some time. I hoped that perhaps I could influence the market by executing dealers with shotguns, but this failed to have any appreciable effect. I've recently opened up the ability to hijack shipments of specific gangs' merchandise, and I'm eager to see if that will give me a bit more of an edge.

So for now, I'm back to advancing the story, idly wondering which behaviors of the market are being modeled, and which ones aren't. If I buy up/steal and hoard all the coke I can find, can I create demand through scarcity? In a more robust sim, would it be prudent to put more resources into buying off the police, to both reduce my risk and inhibit competition? Should I tolerate the comparatively low ROI for weed transactions due to the inherently lowered risk of a smaller initial investment? Or should I be patient, maximizing profits by means of carefully planned, high risk ventures in powder? Even more disturbing than that, I find myself idly wondering about reading up on currency markets.

For God's sake, we really shouldn't let kids anywhere near this. Lord knows what they'll pick up.

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