Is there such a thing as a Free Game?

I’ve always liked playing computer games.  Okay, I’ll be more precise:  I’ve always liked playing computer games since the home PC became popular.  I know I’m dating myself, but before that I used to frequent the arcades.  They’re still out there, but arcades were much more popular back in the day before PC’s and game consoles.

I’ll admit I bought my first PC so I could play games.  Well, maybe my first couple of PC’s.  Then I started writing and the internet came along, and I used my PC for much more.  I finally decided to go the console route and bought a PS3.  I figured I didn’t need to upgrade my computer for writing or the internet, so it would be cheaper to buy a game console.  This has proven to be true, for me at least.  I am a frugal gamer and wait to play games once the prices drop.  I know—it’s lame because I’m talking about games everyone else played 6 months ago.

Anyway, back to the question:  Is there such a thing as a free game.  Yes and no.  I recently started trying out “free” online games.  I’ve found a couple that I enjoy, but I’ve also found they’re not entirely free.  The games I like are free as long as you are patient and can tone back your competitive spirit.  They offer perks and upgrades and shortcuts to people who are willing to pay.  For just a few dollars you can buy enough jewels/crystals/gold (depending upon the game) to buy better equipment, or build that building faster, or gain VIP status.  This tactic is genius.  So I can tell myself I’m saving money by playing for free, and yet pay a few dollars now and again to get ahead.  It’s not really paying for the game when you do it like that—right?  A couple of dollars here and there are no big deal.

So, I did mention that I’m a frugal gamer.  Even though I’m tempted—because I hate being passed up by other players—I have refrained so far from paying as I play.  So I don’t move up as quickly as those cheating bastards that pay for their jewels/crystals/gold!  Wow, that actually felt pretty good.