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Learn how to get rich from a video game

Some folk in Fable II turn to desperate ways of making money

Some folk in Fable II are desperate to make money

Fable II is a video game, in which you play a hero and business mogul. In this post I’ll explain what it can teach you about making money.

Lesson 1: Jobs mean money, but gosh they can be dull

You begin Fable II as an orphan with a dog. Slaying bandits and collecting gold to buy food and drink is great fun.

Soon, though, you’ll want more. Fable II‘s shops brim with things you want to buy: weapons, potions. Then you’ll discover the shops and indeed the whole world of Albion is for sale! Me, I forget about being Conan the Barbarian and dreamed of becoming a mediaeval Donald Trump.

The quickest way to make money was is to pause my adventures, tie up the dog, and get a job working as a blacksmith:

Getting a job in Fable II reminded me that:

  • Trading your hours for money raises cash faster than hare-brained adventures
  • – but salaried work can be tedious and repetitive
  • If you work longer or improve your skills you can get better pay
  • – but those skills are no use outside of the workplace.
  • When you’re not at work, you earn nothing
  • It’s hard to make a fortune working 9-5 for someone else, because your earning limit is determined by your time

I’ve read you can buy everything for sale in Fable II for 100 million gold coins. You’ll never earn that as a blacksmith, however unrealistic Fable II is.

Lesson 2: Passive income beats earning a wage

Buy property and enjoy the passive incomeAfter an hour I was a three-star blacksmith, pulling down on average 100 gold coins every few seconds I spent as a blacksmith. I was also bored to tears.

It didn’t help me to hear my manager saying I was making great swords. He owned the blacksmiths and would benefit from my labour!

So I quit my job and bought myself some thigh-high boots. Then I hit the bars, before popping over to a pie shop.

As I was tucking in, I remembered I was earning money to invest in assets, not to spend on frivolities. So after charming the pie stall owner into lowering the price, I bought her stall.

Pies were now cheaper, but more importantly buying stalls builds up a stream of passive income.

Passive income is money earned by doing nothing. In real-life you get it from savings, investments like shares that pay dividends or property, or having a stake in a business where you get some of the profits. It’s the key to long-term wealth and financial freedom.

Fable II teaches some great lessons on passive income:

  • Investing your gold in an income-producing asset buys you a new stream of gold
  • You can reinvest these passive income streams to buy even more productive assets
  • Your first stall or shop might not produce a huge income, but reinvested they add up over time into larger income streams
  • Diversify! Different towns have different economies. Owning a spread of property across the world will insulate you from the various ups and downs of your different assets
  • With a passive income, you’re free to do things you’d rather instead of work. You earn even while you’re exploring!
  • You have to postpone buying things now to have more tomorrow. Sure, that broadsword looks handy. But buy Ye Olde Weapons Shop, and you’ll have the income to buy a sword whenever you like

Lesson 3: Being an entrepreneur is risky, but more fun

Working and re-investing all my income (earning wages and passive income at the same time), I soon owned a dozen properties, several shops, and all the stalls I could buy.

I was now making as much gold as I’d earned in that first stint as a blacksmith every five minutes. Donald Trump eat your hair off!

Like The Donald, though, now I had money I wanted to do something more exciting. Adventure called – not for the first time, since the game had been warning me constantly that a villain would destroy civilization unless I got on with stopping him.

To stretch my metaphor, this adventuring aspect of Fable II is a bit like being an entrepreneur:

  • You never know whether you’ll find treasure, an opportunity, or just a dead end
  • You have to be nimble and ready to take risks
  • All your abilities are engaged, so you become stronger, smarter and more self-reliant
  • The story and the journey is the real motivation to continue, not some far-off reward
  • If you succeed you can change the world

Lesson 4: Gambling and cheating doesn’t pay

Fable II includes games of skill where you can win gold coins. I was too busy building up my property empire and my biceps to bother.

From what I can gather, unless you really like playing these pub games, you’re better buying properties and businesses to grow your passive income streams.

Interestingly, a spin-off title, Fable II Pub Games, originally included a bug that allowed you to cheat in some way to make millions of gold coins.

Online gossip was that this was going to trap cheaters, and that their characters would be visibly affected. The cheat was later removed. Never a good long-term bet, cheating.

Lesson 5: Even heroes grow old

Nothing lasts forever. Well, nothing except Fable II characters, who get old but don’t die. This is where the comparisons between the game and real-life break down.

In the long run we’re all dead – economist John Maynard Keynes.

If real-life was like Fable II, there would be no need to subscribe to Monevator or to read money books to get motivated. If we knew we’d live forever, we’d all happily toil away for 60 years to enjoy second homes and sports cars for eternity.

Back down to earth, money isn’t the most important thing:

  • You can’t take money with you
  • You have to strike a balance between saving for the future and enjoying the present (I still struggle with this)
  • Money alone won’t make you happy
  • Working as a wage slave without respite is grim, just as playing Fable II without rescuing a few damsels misses the point.
  • You could wait until you’re old and rich to have adventures in Fable II, but wouldn’t it be better to be a hero while you’re young enough to enjoy it? (And maybe see a bit more of the real world before you’re too old, too?)

Playing games is not really a money-spinner

Obviously this post is just meant as a bit of fun (like my previous post on Star Wars). Real-life employment isn’t so lucrative as in Fable II, unless you work on Wall Street. Managing businesses takes more effort and carries more risk, too.

Instead of playing Fable II you could earn a few dollars blogging, expand your business, or search for new investments. Computer games might have made Fable II‘s creator rich, but playing it won’t help you retire early.

Still, I’ll always remember buying that first market stall in Fable II. Many gamers would learn about passive income from it just as well as from Rich Dad, Poor Dad. And what landlord ever chopped a troll’s head off between property deals?

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{ 1 comments… add one }
  • 1 weenie March 9, 2019, 7:18 pm

    This is a fabulous post from 10 years ago which I missed the first time round – I love video game analogies with finance, plus I love rpgs!

    I do enjoy collecting money in my games, which includes completing tasks, doing jobs etc. Repetitive yes, but as you say, much like in the real world!

    Playing lots of video games again is on the agenda for when I retire early!

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