It is my theory, expounded upon what I have heard from others, that tabletop gaming in its most general since is the best economical use of your entertainment dollar. Why? Lets look at a few examples shall we?
Movie: Ticket - $8, Popcorn & Soda - $ 7 -- For yourself, you are looking at ~ $15 to go to the theater and see a movie. You spend about two hours at the show and your value is $7.5 per hour. Yes you get memories of the show and a 'shared' experience, but those are pretty intangible.
Out at the Bar: Cover - $5 (I'm guessing here), Booze - $35 -- If your at the club from 10pm to 2 am that is a value of $10 per hour, assuming you stop at $35 or so. Other intangibles like hang over or getting lucky not included. YMMV.
So lets look at some gaming options:
D&D (Player): If you payed full retail for the Player's Handbook - $35, Dice - $5 -- If you play in one campaign, four hours a week for six weeks (feasible and doable) that is 24 hours for $40 or ~$1.66 per hour... A heck of a lot cheaper then movies.
D&D (DM): If your the DM and you pick up a lot of books, here is the break out. PHx2 - $70, DMGx2 - $70, MMx2 - $70, Dice - $10, Module - $20. That is $240 for the same campaign and you get $10 per hour, the same as going to the bar, but if you average out 5 players and 1 DM, your looking at an average cost per person of $3. Still a great value. If you play more then one campaign or your campaign goes longer or you play in multiple campaigns then the price plummets rapidly.
Warhammer: The grand daddy of commercial tabletop gaming. Lets say you start from scratch and build a 2000 point army, rule book, army book. Rule book is ~$58 and a Battalion Box (Starter) is $108 w/ the army book. Add in some core units, rares, elites, heroes and your looking at an additional $170 or so for a total of $336. Lets start with just the playing aspect. If you play a regular game, once a week for 2.5 hours, for six months with the army and a tournament every other month for 8 hours your total playing time is going to be 84 hours giving you a $4 per hour value on your investment. If your like me and you like the full hobby aspect and you enjoy putting the guys together and painting (not that I've done that lately), you can add in the dozens and dozens of hours spent doing that. Lets say you spent only 48 hours putting the army together and painting (way low for those that have done this before, I know), then your entertainment dollar drops to a RPG like $2.5 per hour... Not too shabby for something that will be with you or at the very least has 'some' re-sale value.
The last go around lets look at one more...
Board Games: Settlers of Catan runs $42 at full retail. I have played this game a snot load and it would be hard to calculate the actual value to me. It has entertained me, my friends, and my family. Lets say four people play the game for an hour once a month. 48 hours of entertainment for $42. That is a buck and change folks. The key to all this is playing the game, if you buy it and don't play, then you just aren't getting the value. Trust me I've done that.
I think this is a key item that game store owners just don't exploit on their fence walking almost customers. Yea it may 'seem' expensive to the player to pick up that new Race for the Galaxy expansion (coming out Friday!), but if you play it a few times, it's cheaper then seeing a movie for the same amount of time.
That is about it, so what do you think?
Tripp'n on the math