Why I Don’t Own a Wii, 360, or 3DS

He condones piracy, if it's on the high seas.

He reviewed Life and gave it a 9 out of 10.

He fed GLaDOS a cake he baked.

I'm an international man of mystery and intrigue, walking around ever bound to my multiple nationalities, multiple currencies, and multiple hoes from as many different area codes. I've got a great interest in games from both the East and the West, regardless of whose boundaries I might inhabit at the time. When I see a game I want, I'll buy that sucker, often in its original language, especially if translation into another will take a long time or just seems unlikely. That said, region freedom is a huge factor for me when buying a new system.

A game console is no cheap investment.  Even second-hand, a few years after release, a console is easily gonna set you back triple digits — probably even twice over. You hear a lot about how things aren't affordable in "this economy", but really, for most of the middle class, $200 isn't something you can just toss around without thinking about it…in any economy. So when you do go to all the trouble and expense of picking up a system and all that such entails, it's a kick in the junk to find out that it'll only play games from one region.

For a good many people, this is of little or no concern, but for guys like me, this is a big issue. When I was in Canada or the US, I might be stuck waiting for a certain Japanese game to take 8 months to come stateside if I had a system incapable of playing foreign games. Worse, some games never even made the swim. I was only able to play the outstanding Final Fantasy XII: Zodiac Job System and the craptacular Namco X Capcom thanks to having a slide card to function as a roofie for my PS2. It never knew the forbidden things I did to it, but oh did I have fun. Heck, I only even owned a PS2 or Dreamcast because I could play games from any region on them by way of workarounds: a slide card for PS2 and a Game Shark CDX for DC. GameCube? Oh you know I had the Freeloader. Without those, maybe I would be still without those machines. Who knows?

The PSP and DS are wonderful machines. No matter where in the world you are and no matter where your system came from, you can pick up a game from a local shop and play it. It seems like such a simple thing, yet just as common sense seems terribly uncommon, user friendliness is never a guarantee. I'm walking around seeing great 3DS games, yet knowing that I need 2 systems to play all the games I want is a huge — did I already use the phrase "kick in the junk"? — um, it's a huge…rusty hook down the windpipe. And I have this inconvenience because Nintendo's brand new, $160 portable lacks a feature that its $80 (when I got one), 20-year-old portable had. The new product has a marked inferiority to the old product — the way old product.

This is why I don't own a Wii. I need to buy two systems in order to play all of the games I want to play. So no sale has gone either direction. I would own four controllers and an assload of games if I had one, but eh, I don't; I've held steady for seven years. If I do eventually crack, I'll be using my rad connections to get the system used from my sister-in-law who manages a mom-n-pop game shop (she's the pop), then having my homie Dave mod the sucker to be region free. Isn't it sad, though, that I have to go to awkward measures just to enable me to give more money to a company? Nintendo must be really lucky, because it's bad business if you don't make it as easy as possible for your target customers to give you their money.

I'm aware there are methods of cracking these things, a customer having to do so in the first place is retarded. "Shut up and take my money" as the popular Futurama image macro says.

Xbox, same deal. I want my machine to be able to play games from both sides of the ocean, because I will definitely be given plenty of opportunities to buy games from multiple regions, and I have family members who are likely to give me games as gifts from different regions. If I get a game as a gift from someone in North America, it's likely to be from their shops; a gift from a Japanese person would likewise be from their local shops. Sorry, Microsoft. Your box has a lot of games that look great. Too bad you can never sell them to me.

PC is not off the hook here. Some PC games need to connect to the internet, speciifcally, well, MMOs. Some handle it just fine, but others not so much. My wife played a lot of Maple Story in Canada, then came out to Japan and contacted Nexon about her inability to connect. The reply was so simple: "Abandon all your content and progress, start over, and switch to the Japanese version of the game. You'll probably have to leave your group and friends and stuff". Wow, thanks for makin' it easy!

The Vita is thankfully region free, but it's still got more red tape than its predecessor. Being able to do the above — walk in to any game shop around the world and buy something that will work — is a great function that needs to be preserved, but needing to reset the hardware in order to sign in with another PSN account is retarded. I loved (read: hated) hearing Sony's justification for the way Vita handles PSN accounts:

PlayStation Vita is intended to be played by only one user.

And a single user suuuurely can't be interested in content from another country, right? I mean, pfuh, pfuh, pfffffft, that's completely out of the question, right? So absurd that my saying "single user" need not any modifiers. When you say "single user" it also automatically carries "…who only buys domestic content". Way to let on that you're a total xenophobic jackass, anonymous Sony rep. I wonder if he's related to the ambulance dispatcher who decided he'd argue with me about the spelling of my last name rather than send the medics I was calling for. (Background: I once couldn't get an ambulance to come to my house until I said my name was "Nakamura" instead of "Hindman". You see, on the phone, I sounded Japanese because I was speaking Japanese without an accent, so hearing "Hindman" threw the guy off. I may in fact be dead right now if I hadn't just skipped the debate and claimed to be a Nakamura.) But hey, shouldn't everyone just speak one language and just buy content from one country?

But I need to stop being mad at Sony and focus my rage back toward Nintendo. At least the Vita maintains its region freedom for the most part — and in my opinion, the more important part — by still allowing the content to be played on any machine. I bitch, but secretly, I love.

The PS3's region freedom deserves a tip of the hat, here. A TV console being region free is uncommon, but it has been lovely. Here again, its ability to play content from multiple regions became the deciding factor on what my big console purchase would be, five years ago. My game library is now a mixed back of software from both East and West, and I'll continue to build it with more of each. I'm aware that occasionally different publishers handle things in different regions, but the end result is comparable: someone made money on these games. And some  money being made somewhere in the world, in business, is always better than no money being made anywhere.