The Cost of Fun

Good morning John! Last week I said some really
mean things about books, and books actually saw the video and left a really nasty comment.
As an apology, let’s talk about the best entertainment investments you can make. There are lots of different kinds and levels
of quality of entertainments, and also different amounts of money you can spend being entertained.
Worst investments are usually live events. Of course hopefully that means that the quality
of the entertainment is higher. The Super Bowl, for example, this year a very
bad game, not interesting. People pay upwards of two thousand dollars to get a ticket to
the Super Bowl for less than four hours of entertainment! That’s, that’s more than five
hundred dollars per hour of entertainment. That’s about as bad as you can get. Vidcon- also a live event but it goes for
a long time. It’s two days, and like, all the way around almost, it’s like 10 a.m. to
2 a.m. If you’re spending all of that time being entertained, and I hope you are, and
you pay the current 150 dollar per ticket price then it’s five dollars per hour of entertainment.
That’s pretty good! It’s the same as if you pay ten dollars for
a two-hour movie, as long as you don’t buy the tremendously overpriced snack foods. Also
as long as you’re not seeing a 3D movie. Or in the special theater, or it’s a special
edition movie, or you live in a place where it’s more than $10. Video games are one of the most popular forms
of entertainment these days, usually debuting about $60 and taking about 40 hours to beat.
Not bad at all! Comics, though I love them and they’re beautiful little pieces of art,
and sometimes they do hold on to their value- bad investment. Takes like 20 minutes to read
and is 3 bucks, so that’s bad. Board games and card games are generally a
fantastic investment, so long as you play them. So once you accept the cost, every time
you play it you are getting a better value. Now let’s bring it on back to my friend books. The Fault in Our Stars is currently on sale
at Amazon for seven dollars. This book, it took me about 20 hours to finish. I’m admittedly
a slow reader so let’s shave some time off of that. 46 cents per hour! This- now we’re
talking! At the same time though all of our other entertainments are much more expensive
than this, so really it’s probably OK to pay full price for that book. I’m only paying
like 67 cents more per hour! Really, to me, that’s the amount of money
I am paying to the local bookstore when I buy it there rather than on Amazon. 67 cents
per hour of enjoyment that I am trading in exchange for a place where I can go and look
at books! Nice people who will help me find things! shelves and shelves of opportunity! Of course, we haven’t even mentioned America’s
main source of entertainment, that being television. Average
cost of cable television package is a hundred and twenty eight dollars per month. Now that’s
a lot of money, but since the average American spends -and I cannot believe this is true-
34 hours per week watching television, it’s actually a really good deal! However, no one’s pretending that the amount
of time you’ spend watching TV is comparable to the amount of time you spend enjoying Vidcon.
Hopefully, 20 hours of Vidcon is more than 10 times more entertaining than 20 hours of
television. And yeah, I think 20 hours of reading a book is probably more enriching
than 20 hours of playing Grand Theft Auto. It doesn’t seem like there’s a huge amount
of correlation between the amount of dollars delivered and the amount of value delivered,
which is why I guess it makes sense that a lot of the best things in life are free. (singing Money (That’s What I Want) by The
Beatles) But you can keep ’em for the birds and bees
I want money That’s what I want
That’s what I want That’s what I want (speaking) John, I’ll see you on Tuesday.

About the author


  1. The problem that I see is that lately any dumbass can publish a book. (OF course John Green is not one of them, his books are amazing), but I've regretted 80% of the books I've bought since seems many writers are really bad. And now, when more books are sold than the rest of the whole human history, seems that quality is dropping to keep selling.

  2. I paid 15 dollars (CAN) for Minecraft when it was in alpha before it went so popular. I can't count the hundreds of hours I put in this game and yet it still is very entertaining. I guess it is one of the cheapest sources of fun I can find. ^^

  3. It took me about 5 hours to read TFiOS, and it cost about $10.  I feel like I got ripped off.

  4. I think it depends on the video game. I know the example was a new release, which is fair enough.

    I got Borderlands 2 via Steam during the christmas sales, including all of the current (at the time) DLC addons. I think I paid around $40 total, including the exchange rate from AU$ to US$ – at over 150 hours of play (alone, with friends, different characters) that's 30c per hour.

  5. I thought I was the only person to evaluate things this way. (it's how I rationalize spending money on games)

  6. Eh I look at it more for the experience, the memories you get from those experiences no matter the price. Some things are really pricy but most times their worth it ^_^.

  7. Let's see The Fault in our Stars took me about 7 hours to read and I spent $9 so that's about $1.28 per hour. However I feel like that was WAY more enriching than watching 7 hours of tv that (in my case) would be free. Sometimes its worth the price you pay.8

  8. You forgot to mention that often, video games and books can be read and played multiple times and still be entertaining, making them even more entertaining for the money.

  9. and if you manage to find a decent book at a place like goodwill that book is usually about  $0.25 – $0.50 lol.. I suppose this might depend on your area.. that said i think the cost of entertainment is too high for the most part.. entertainment or fun distractions.. are essential in human life i think..  If there isn't anything fun for them to do their out look on their own quality of life diminishes.. which can lead to depression among other things..  So I look at this type of detraction as a necessity.. and there for makes me think that price for some distractions should be lower and more affordable by nearly all in some form.. Movies are too expensive.. even the cheapo theater that lets people watch past season movies is getting kind of high.. Use to be you could go in for 2$ and watch a flick which was awesome.. but the price has been rising lately.. usually as the main theaters prices rise,, as does the cheapo theaters price..  Cable and internet in the USA is also too expensive imo.. Video Games are also starting to get overly expensive.. games are starting to leave the $40 realm and starting to rise up in to the $60 – $70+ realm…  To me that's too expensive.. Video games were good at $40..

  10. I just spent $25 dollars for a movie ticket. For The Night Before Our Stars event to be exact. Thanks, John. But no really, TFiOS is so worth it! 🙂

  11. This got me thinking: Borderlands 2 is the game I have spent the most time and money on (EVER) I have spent $95.14 (Including DLC) on it and have spent 500 hours on it (don't judge me) so that's about $.19 cents per hour. Not bad


  13. While for the most part I won't disagree that, ideally, a book should be more enriching than a video game, there are plenty of exceptions that make the statement less true. Video games have become an excellent medium for not only storytelling, but also for expressing ideas, morals, (in)equality struggles, differences in culture, I'm sure we could go on. The best two examples I can think of instantly are Mass Effect and Assassin's Creed.
    In Mass Effect, if you do, as you say, explore all the content, you will learn about many cultures and their morals that, while fictional, may or may not have real world origins or at the very least real world applications. Also the ongoing decisions, many of which put you in situations where you must decide between the needs of the many, few, or self.
    Assassin's Creed is one of my favorite franchises and one of the main reasons is because, while you start off with a very clear distinction of good guys vs bad guys, as your character converses with their dying enemies, you learn that many of them have noble intentions and goals; some of them even just happen to be on the wrong side and just don't realize it. While this doesn't tend to be true for the higher ranking Templars, the lines between right and wrong still quite often become extremely blurred.
    On the other side of this topic are books, and, again, while I agree that most books SHOULD be more enriching, as another commenter pointed out, there are a LOT of bad books out there these days. That's not to say there aren't bad games, but it is easier and cheaper to write, publish, and distribute a book than most other entertainment mediums; bad content will filter through by volume alone. Admittedly I'm not a huge reader so I don't have any readily available examples, but I'm willing to risk YouTube comment flak on the assumption that plenty of people would not disagree.

  14. Terraria = $5 Steam sale
    Hours played: 83

    I made the right choice, except now I can't play Terraria ever again without getting bored immediately.

  15. I have played Gmod for 1149 hours in total, it cost £6 so I can get entertainment for 5 pence an hour and it decreases as I play more. Seems legit.

  16. A little bias for books ^^*
    PC Games (Good non Story driven ones)> Books. For Example my Steam statistics:
    Gnomoria, 296 Hours Played, 10€
    XCOM: Enemy Unknown, 230 Hours Played, 50€
    Terraria, 222 Hours Played, 15€
    and so on.

  17. The Fault in Our Stars took me about 4.5 hours to read, which I did in two sittings because I enjoyed it. How did it take you 20?

  18. 20 hours to read? And you call yourself a slow reader? Dude, I love books, and it takes me at least a month and a half to finish a book. Two months if the book is over 500 pages. Then again, I have a short-attention span and get distracted easily.

  19. This is an interesting way to look at it. I mean I have thought that way about clothes before. That's probably because I worked in retail selling them; so I'd say something about that in order to ease the customers mind while they are paying for it. 
    "If you wear it twenty times then it only cost a dollar."
    I think it was something you could wear that many times–easy.

    Anyway, I myself have a hard time spending money on myself when it comes to something fun. Sure I can drop cash on nearly anything experience related; but when it comes to video games, artist programs and other such things–it's just hard. I guess because I know I need experiences to grow and learn, which is important to me, but I don't technically NEED the other things if I can get something similar for free. At the same time I am actually missing out on certain experiences because of that.

    So really…I need to think about the cost of not buying an item and whether I'm losing something important because I just don't want to shell out the money. It's obvious that the cost of a Superbowl ticket would mean nothing to me because the experience would be priceless–especially if the team I root for was playing. It is also more about who I am with. Then why is it so hard for me to buy a video game that was marked down to ten dollars? Just because it's not an event doesn't give it less value. I've played a type of game before; but that one would give me a different experience just as much as a trip to a country that I haven't been to before.
    Maybe it is related to how much weight I actually put on a particular experience…I'm going to stop typing out my thoughts now. haha

  20. What, Comics are 5 € or more in Germany and it takes me about 20-30 minutes to read them, which is like 10 € per hour, I AM NOT PLEASED. >:(

  21. I'd say that games also have an edge experience wise but as I have never properly read a book (I don't have the mindset because I'm used to games and anime with cliffhangers) I can't really say that those don't have the same thing.

  22. However many hours to read to finish one book PLUS if you want, you can re-read it a couple of more times, so even more valuable! Like Harry Potter…I might've read those books for way too many times (who am I kidding it will never be way too many when it comes to Harry Potter)

  23. Oh, tremendously overpriced movie snack foods….why can't I resist you?
    Well, I can resist most of you, but not popcorn. It just smells so good.

  24. Okay, so I went to a concert on 27 Feb this year. The band was Halestorm, and a band called Wilson opened, and it was in a place called the Academy, and it's in Dublin City. It cost €23.00 to get in, and I got about 2 hours of entertainment, and a few days of a painful neck and right arm, but it was worth it. So I got about 1 hour of entertainment for €11.50

  25. How about buying minecraft and paying once then playing online forever not paying anything else? (instead of WoW that you have to pay every month)

  26. Currently on a Pterry binge, going from the first discworld to the last (publishing order, none of that wierd story arc order nonsense)… they are like $3-5 each on kiddle, so probably a good investment

  27. although it is most likely going to be good entertainment the best seats at the mayweather pacquiao fight   are 250k for a fight that will not last more then 36 minutes that like half a million an hour

  28. The argument for video games in this is obvious: Steam.

    Also, ON steam I got cook serve delicious for $3 on a sale. I have now put 37 hours into that game. 8.1 cents an hour anyone?

  29. I find the video games one to be inaccurate. Take online games. They are free, and you can easily sink hundreds of hours into one. Thousands even. Let's say you bought something in that free, online, game, for 20 dollars. After maybe 500 hours, that amounts to 4 cents per hour. If we were going off a realistic number, say 2000 hours playing that game, it would be 1 cent per hour. Keep in mind, spending that 20 dollars is optional, leaving us at the problem of dividing by 0. Well you get the point. Online games are the winner.

  30. Stop bashing on video games!!!!! Video games are art and media  just like movies and books are. The only difference is that video games are interactive making them if anything superior to books and movies.

  31. Minecraft: 10 euro's spent, 4000+ hours of entertainment.

    Yes I could have spent that time with better looking, more story driven games and no, I have no regrets.

  32. Second hand books: 50p/20p/10p per book at our local library. Some of them are huge!

    Sans library: 1p used book on Amazon, £2.80 postage and packaging.

    MOOCS: Many are FREE.

    What is TV? 😉

  33. It took you 20 hours to read TFIOS? I read that in like a 2 hour airplane ride to Vegas. I also read it again. So your $15 book that's cost you $1.15 per hour has been halved! (I read books over and over again)

  34. I never thought of breaking down the cost of entertainment like this before, and it's pretty neat! -Amber

  35. Video games is the cheapest source of entertainment, seriously. You took the price of a tripple-A game and put it as your example – I now present to you, a better example! At least if you're price conscious.

    Let's start with sales! On sites like HumbleBundle, you can get 10-ish games for usually around the price of 12 dollars. With a conservative guess that you'll have 4 hours of gametime per game, that is 40 hours for 12 dollars. It's a conservative guess, because you probably won't be playing half of them, while the rest might net up to 8+ hours, so yea. Anyway, you heard right! 40 hours for 12 dollars. It might be better or worse than that depending on the bundle, but it's still pretty crazy.

    Without a sale, you can get a game called Europa Universalis and a good share of its DLCs for 93 euro. I'm about to reach 400 hours in that game alone, so I'll let you do that math. And, it's not uncommong for the sales to be REALLY good – we're takling 50-75%!

    No other source of entertainment can even hope to best video-games in terms of how long time you can spend per dollar, and I'd personally say the level of entertainment, which is designed to be interactive, is pretty high. I'm not saying 'video-games uber alles', but I am saying that we should all at least appreciate that it exists. =P

    (Oh, and I haven't even mentioned old games from GoG or via emulation. =3 )

  36. some F2P game,1000s hour of gameplay,spent $0
    just need to work bit harder than premium player but get the same result,so… yeah
    oh and I have to agree 02:46 ,20 hours reading is way more enriching than 20h of grand theft auto and a lot of the best thing in life is FREE!

  37. I love to read, but I live in Mexico and the price for a book is at least, twice as much as in United States, so reading is one of the most expensives part of in my life, but is definitely worthy.

  38. If you live in the Netherlands or Germany it doesn't matter if you buy your books online, in a big store or in a small book store, all have to use the same price for books and literature. I'm not sure about other European countries, but I believe it's the case in all European countries. Thanks to this system people don't buy all their books online, but instead they buy books in the place they like best.

  39. I went through TFIOS in about 6 hours. Although the tears didn't stop for a while after, so let's call it seven. Still not bad.

  40. I bought 3 games for 10 dollars and have gotten 200 hours in one and 20ish into another, and I probably have more but my computer broke and deleted the hours played.

  41. 600 ish hours of Skyrim at an initial price of $30 (bought it on sale), comes to roughly a nickel per hour. Thanks, Bethesda!

  42. here he makes the same error that many people do when price valuing games. it's not just about how long it is, it's also about the enjoyment per unit time.
    so if you pay £10 for a game that takes about 20 hours to complete but that you aren't blown away by, that might be equally valuable to (and therefore have equal value for money) as a game that takes only a couple of hours to complete but where you have A LOT of fun in those couple hours.
    same applies to films, books, tv, conventions and the superbowl. based on the superbowls high ticket price and short running time: i asssume that people who see it live REALLY REALLY enjoy it.

  43. $20 2000 piece puzzle took me a month to complete, though I'm not sure how many hours. A lot. It took a lot of consistent work.

    Longer and high-replayability RPGs like The Elder Scrolls series: $25 sale for all five games, each easily worth hundreds of hours each…yeah, good investment.

    Hand-me-down guitar: still adding time to free entertainment.

    Pad and pen: let's not speak about how long it takes to finish writing a whole, 8.5 X 11 notebook, but it's cheap entertainment.

    Paint by Numbers: $6, to do with accuracy and recreate the cover takes a lot of hours. Next time I'll clock it.

    If you're on the internet all the time, your monthly bills (internet and share of electricity) and cost of computer probably come out moderately cheap.

    Getting lost in your mind: free, and contains a large percentage of your supposed 80 year life. 😉

  44. How… how does the average American have time for approximately 5 hours of television a day? I don't understand?

  45. The Starter Set for D&D costs 19,99$, let's round that up to 20.
    If you play a oneshot for 4 hours with 3 friends that's 1,25$ per hour per Person.
    But play it every other week for 3 months and that cost drops to approx. 0,21$ per Person per hour
    Play every week and it's 0,10$… and nobody stops after 3 months

  46. I thought the super bowl was great in 2013 it was extremely action packed and fun
    Though I am a Seahawks fan so I might be a little biased

  47. I’d say that Stardew Valley is a good investment for your entertainment. You could conceivably play 120 hours of that game and never get any less enjoyment out of it, it’s currently 15 USD on Steam so 15/120 would mean 12 cents for every hour you play!

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