Being a Gamer in a Third-World Country

I’ve been into gaming since the age of 3. At the same time, I’ve also spent most of my life living in a third-world country—the Bahamas. I’m currently residing in Ecuador, which also happens to be a third-world country. While both nations differ in a lot of ways, they do share at least one major similarity—being a gamer is a very expensive hobby.

Before we get into the main discussion, let me establish what I mean by the term “third-world country”. This term is used to classify countries that are considered to be ‘developing nations’. That means countries which have very small economies (little or no wealth with a high rate of poverty) and are reliant on help from other, larger countries. The opposite of a third-world country is a first-world country; nations like the United States of America, United Kingdom, Canada and China fall into this category.

So, with that said, how is it to be a gamer in a third-world country? Well, basically your experience can be summed up with just two words: expensive and inconvenient. When in a first-world country like the USA, it’s simple and affordable to just hop to a store and buy a new game, peripheral or system. When living in a third-world country, you really have to plan out what you intend to buy and save up in order to afford it. I’m not saying that every American for instance has unfettered access to whatever their hearts desire, but it’s generally a lot easier to indulge in a hobby like gaming there versus in a third-world country like the Bahamas or Ecuador.

I’m 18 years-old and have lived in the Bahamas all my life. I moved to Ecuador last September for a variety of reasons, but primarily due to the fact that it’s a lot cheaper to live there. What isn’t cheaper is gaming products. Just like in the Bahamas, almost every gaming product that’s available there is at least double the price of what it would be in the USA. In fact, the whole reason why I decided to write this article is due to the recent death of my PDP Afterglow Xbox 360 Controller.

Unexpected incidents are common in the gaming world.
Unfortunately, for some of us it’s a very inconvenient and expensive hassle.

I bought the Afterglow controller two years ago while on a trip in Florida for a mere $30. I’ve been very pleased with the controller. The vibration motors are excellent, the buttons have a nice tactile feel and the overall build quality is sturdy. Well…I guess I can’t really agree with that last part anymore. The controller itself is still in great condition, but the problem is the cord. Due to its long length, I’ve had to wrap it around the controller when I’m done playing in order to keep things neat and tidy. It seems that wrapping it up over the past two years has caused the wiring inside to wear down and now completely give away. Plugging in the controller to the laptop now results in no feedback whatsoever: no power runs through the cord anymore, turning the controller into nothing more than a paperweight.

Funnily enough, I first noticed this issue beginning to develop a few weeks ago. Around the same time, I found a piece of software called WiinUSoft which allows users to take their Wii U Pro Controller and use it with their PC via Bluetooth. I tested out the software for myself and was very pleased with the results. I was able to play Rocket League and DiRT 3 just fine, even with rumble enabled. I was in Ecuador at the time, but now I’m in the Bahamas for a few short weeks. I just left Ecuador a few days ago, and I just so happened to leave my Wii U Pro Controller behind in my apartment as I didn’t think I would need it. I also left my Wii U there. Boy, was I sure wrong.

With my Afterglow controller now dead, I was left with one choice: buy a new controller. Although I knew what the result would be, I went ahead and decided to visit one of the local electronic stores here in Nassau, Bahamas just to see how much it would cost to get a new 360 or even Xbox One controller. How much do you think it costs? Well, Amazon currently has brand-new 360 controllers from Microsoft going for just $30. I found brand-new Xbox One controllers for $40 over on eBay. So, how much are they here in the Bahamas? Well, the particular store that I visited had both in stock—$86 for the 360 controller and $108 for the Xbox One controller. Nope, I’m not joking. In fact, I wish I was.

Good news: there’s a program that exists allowing you to turn a Pro Controller into a makeshift PC gamepad. Bad news: my controller is currently 2000 miles away.

The Bahamas has very high import taxes on most electronic items, especially those that are gaming-related. Since these are considered to be ‘luxury items’, I guess the government must think making you pay an arm-and-a-leg to import it is justified. The same is true for Ecuador; I’ve seen PS4s being sold for as much as $900. I spotted a Nintendo Switch for $600. Physical games are plentiful, but at prices like $80 and $90. Mind you, all of the prices that I’ve mentioned for both Ecuador and the Bahamas are in USD. The Bahamas’ currency is equal value to America’s, and Ecuador only uses American money. So yes, the price hike is very much insane.

This is the reality of being a gamer in a third-world country: you have to pay out the wazoo for the same products as everyone else. In the case of the Bahamas, what makes it so heartbreaking is that Florida is extremely close. The average plane ride between most of the islands in the Bahamas and cities like Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando are an hour at most. For this reason, quite a number of Bahamians travel to Florida and other parts of the USA to do the bulk of their shopping. Stuff like clothes, furniture, common household items and especially electronics are purchased by Bahamians, since what’s available in our own country is just far too expensive. That’s right folks, it’s cheaper to travel to another country and buy items instead of just going to a local store to purchase the same things.

With all this being said, if you’re a gamer in a first-world country like the USA, appreciate it. Even if you’re a gamer on a budget, you’re still in a much better position than those of us who live in third-world countries. The only reason I’m not excessively bothered by the aforementioned loss of my Afterglow controller is because I’ll be travelling to the States in a few days. So, I’ll be able to enjoy limited access to reasonably priced products, including a new Xbox One controller. (See what I mean?)

Somehow it’s more affordable to travel to another country to buy products than to buy the same products in my own country. #ThirdWorldLife

A.K Rahming
Having been introduced to video games at the age of 3 via a Nintendo 64, A.K has grown up in the culture. A fan of simulators and racers, with a soft spot for Nintendo! But, he has a great respect for the entire video game world and enjoys watching it all expand as a whole.