There's only a few things that are really difficult to understand in the world today and, apart from the more obvious topics like religion, the scoring system used for cricket and how they get jam inside the doughnuts, for a lot of people the commodities market is one of these grey areas. Enter GameX - The Games Exchange, yet another slightly warped brainchild of Spectrum maestro Jonathan Cauldwell where currency is directly linked to the performance of video games - this is a world the Oldschool Gaming team like the idea of. There are sixteen commodities, or games to you and me, on offer and each has it's own fluctuating share price. To start with you have no capital and, on more positively, no tax to pay, so GameX generously lets you have a quick round of Muncher (a slightly simplified Pac-Man clone) in order to get a little cashflow going. Once you've got something to work with, it's time start building your portfolio.
Once shares have been purchased in a title, the player gets to have a go and this in turn earns more capital but, since it's possible to freeze the action to trade at any time during play, it's also possible to make a profit by buying into a game and selling the shares if the price goes up significantly - but it's worth remembering the old adage; shares are like trousers, they can go up or down and you might find yourself waiting for your chosen commodity to increase in value. A couple of games have a fixed difficulty level and are therefore good long-term investments because, although they don't generate a huge income from each round, they're consistent; one "buy and hold" game is the airbourne shoot 'em up Spitfire, it's expensive to initially buy into but earns well over time. Other games can make more capital per round, but are significantly harder to play as time goes on, either because their difficulty increases with each play, as with Robotron variant The Dead, or because they're difficult games to start with. One of the cuter platformers is Skate Pig, our porcine hero leaps around on his 'board and collects keys - but one false move and, in true Manic Miner tradition, it's back to the start of the round!
SHARES ARE LIKE TROUSERS, THEY CAN GO DOWN AS WELL AS UP
The only cloud on the horizon in the GameX market place is taxation and although it starts at zero (and if only the real world worked like that) the counter goes up whenever something negative happens within a game; the amount of taxation added varies depending on the game itself, in some cases contact with a nasty won't be fatal and merely adds a couple of percent whilst in other cases a collision is fatal and will also add a fixed 10% penalty, so the tax counter acts like a cross between a lives counter and energy gauge. If the taxation reaches 100%... well, that means all the money is going to the tax man and you're broke, so it's game over. It's not all bad news though, the tax can be lowered by 10% collecting four icons during play that spell out the word GAME.
Superficially, GameX could come across as an attempt to simply put together sixteen simple games as a package and, to a degree, that's what has happened; all the games are fun in themselves, all are well represented if simple graphically and, although it's limited, what sound there is fits the bill, some titles are more difficult than others and, since such a diverse range of styles are represented, there's usually a few titles that a player can latch onto and enjoy. But unlike other attempts to meld multiple games together, with Lazy Jones or more recently the Wario Ware series being the first examples that spring to mind, this isn't just a case of a group of disparate titles and a little "glue" to hold them in place and the stock trading adds a whole new element; is it worth risking the purchase of shares in a game the player isn't keen on playing, is the upward trend in a title going fast enough that some stock can be purchased and then sold on before the dividend on that title is due, even how much stock to buy?
But even better is that the stock trading side of GameX is optional so, whilst you do need capital to buy into titles you want to play, it's not necessary to concentrate on share prices and the market unless you want to. Bigger scores will be earnt by those players who try to keep how much they paid to play the games in their head as well as the techniques needed to actually play them, but anyone can approach GameX and it's sub-games and play them however they see fit and that's what makes it well worth the small amount of effort initially required to get used to the "game world" and start trading properly.