If you’re a longtime reader of Game Informer and Gameinformer.com, you’ve likely suspected that I’m an idiot for quite some time. It turns out that you’re right. The story I’m about to relate – about my complete failure at playing the original Mass Effect – has always amused my coworkers. I thought I’d share it with you today.

Given my profession, you might think that I’m an early adopter of all the latest and greatest in electronics. You’d be wrong. From HDTVs to laptops to smartphones, I’ve always waited a few years past the introduction of any major new technology to purchase it – I’d rather pay half as much for something twice as good, “cutting edge” be damned.

As a result, I held out (in retrospect) far too long before I bought an HDTV. Money was a little tight at the time, and I just couldn’t justify it in the budget. However, around 2006/7 the writing was on the wall – thanks mostly to the increasingly hard time I was having reading onscreen text in games like Dead Rising, Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, and – most notably – Mass Effect. The fact that I was overdue for a new prescription and set of glasses wasn’t helping matters.

Excited by my workmate’s raves about Mass Effect and eager to have an interstellar adventure, I popped in my disc and went about creating my version of Commander Shepard. Soon, I was hopping around the galaxy, engaging in firefights and tense conversations – all the while struggling to read any text onscreen. I was using an old-school, standard-definition tube television, a hulking beast that weighed well over 100 pounds. It was common problem for that time for games intended to be viewed in high definition to have small, nearly unreadable text when displayed on an SDTV.

I must have been about four or five hours into the game. I was wandering around the Citadel, engaging in whatever mission objectives or conversations that were in front of me. I had been in a few battles by now and had some credits to spend, so I thought I’d go shopping for some new weapons, gear, and armor.

I pulled into a vendor, and was blown away by the prices! Seriously, this was a galactic fire sale to end all fire sales. Every item on the list was priced extremely low – had I found the first Costco location in outer space? Sensing opportunity, I nearly bought the store up. After this orgy of consumerism was over, I strutted out into the Citadel, ready for my next excursion.

My error didn’t hit me until the next combat sequence. Charging into battle, I suddenly went into my inventory and realized I was heading into combat wearing what amounted to Space Boxer Shorts and a Medium-Sized Space Nerf Bat. Due to my poor eyesight and the tiny onscreen text, my “shopping” experience at the Citadel had actually been a “selling” experience. Thinking I was taking advantage of some great deals, I had sold nearly my whole inventory for a paltry handful of credits. After I quickly died in combat, I backtracked to the store where I’d sold the stuff, hoping to buy my gear back (while cursing myself for not bothering to maintain multiple save files). The merchant was happy to do so – at prices around two or three time what he’d paid me for the items. Crook!

I ended up abandoning the game for a while and eventually starting over completely. Soon after, I decided an HDTV was no longer a luxury for a next-gen gamer, but a requirement. I also left my time with Mass Effect with a nice reminder that maybe – just maybe – I’m not too bright. Thanks BioWare.