There are two things that are common across all types of games, from shooter to sim to RPG. The first, obviously, is conflict. Usually, this occurs with violence of some sort: aliens are attacking Earth, zombies are attacking Earth, a time dragon is attacking a fantasy equivalent to Earth. Sometimes, it happens because of emotional stuff: your love interest was raised by a mean person and has trouble with showing love, your virtual family/pet is sad because you don't keep them happy enough, a time dragon killed your family and you can only cope with that through violence.

The second, even more obviously, is money. Money, as the saying goes, is the root of all evil; however, it is also the thing you need in games to buy that weapon upgrade to shoot aliens, buy that lovely mirror to dupe your best gal into bed, and pay a trainer to jack up your sword skills to kill that time dragon...

Hmm... maybe it is the root of all evil, after all.

Be that as it may, video game currency is just as varied as video games themselves, so this list is going to examine the very best of them. Specifically, those that are either really unique or really practical.

What's This About?! - In the magical realms of [insert name here], wonderous races like Elves, Humans, and Other laugh and play together; their existence is a simple one, and yet... it is peaceful. More aptly, though, it isn't. Fantasy races never get along - Elves hate Humans, Humans hate Elves, both hate Other - and chances are, if they aren't trying to kill each other, they're trying to rob each other blind.

If you're trying to stay alive in the dangerous world of Tamriel, Faerun, or Orjaland (last one is fake), you're going to need two things: weapons and money. Luckily, I hear that Goblin shopkeep happens to carry a 3d10 Blazing Sword of Flames+4 behind the counter, and since every fantasy merchant overcharges for their goods, you'll be able to boost a large amount of gold off him too.

Just hope you're strong enough to carry it...

Is This Type of Currency Practical? - Gold is rarer than iron, and easy to cast into a coinish shape. Most areas aren't overly abundant in it, either, so the (perceived) value of gold is standard throughout most realms, and rarely depreciates.

However, it also has that odd mix of "heavy" and "shiny," making it really, really easy for thieves to pick out which idiot wants to forfeit their hard earned wages for that week.

Is This Type of Currency Unique? - Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha no. Pick a fantasy game, and chances are, gold or some variation thereof will be the life-blood of the economy.

Additional Information - Helpful tip: if you value your money/life, you could always sew some gold into your clothes (belt, boots), and only put a small amount in your coin-purse. Or, carry your gold around in a sock, and use that as a weapon. Improvisation at it's shiniest!

What's This About?! - Choice A. You are trapped in a small Vegas-like city, with tons of zombies. You can't even walk down the street without getting jumped by a group of moaning, shambling people, who all want to bite you and give you a horrible disease. Luckily, some street punks have set up a few shops around the city... maybe you could get a weapon from them....

Choice B. You've managed to make it to Rapture, fantastical underwater city of the damned. You've got a wrench, sure, but watch out, cause you've also got a group of well-dressed madpeople on your tail. Problem is, they won't kill themselves, and neither will that wrench of yours. Hmm... there's a vending machine right around the bend... maybe that'll have some bullets for your pistol...

So, what is the common denominator between these two? You need cash, dummy!

Is This Type of Currency Practical? - Yeah, paper money is always a good way to go. As long as order can be maintained in society (and, apparently, as long as you have street punks or vending machines), you'll be able to buy things with your cash. Plus, it's easy to carry - just grab a couple wallets or a suitcase (heck, put it in your pocket), and you're good to go.

Is This Type of Currency Unique? - No. It's paper money. Most of the world accepts it. High Scores on Practicality don't give you High Scores on Uniqueocity, folks.

Additional Information - Watch out for inflation. There's no way that sword costs over 1000 dollars!

What's This About?! - About five hundred years in the future, man will be faced with imaginary unimaginable threats, including but not limited to an alien hegemony, a shadowy military group with selfish desires, and an unfeeling corporate giant that's going to milk the series for all it's worth.... wait, scratch that last one. That's real life. Zing!

Luckily, buying that last snack cake at the grocer's while fiery plasma death rains down on your planet is easier than ever, thanks to credits (cR)!

Is This Type of Currency Practical? - On the one hand, sure. Money no longer has to be printed, as everything is transmitted electronically. For example, let's say you're going to a gentleman's club (yes, this is a real, canon example to the Halo series). cR means no paper currency, no paper currency means no handing cash out to the performers, and that means you can just sit back and enjoy the fine, fine show.

On the other hand, if anything bad happens to your planet, and I mean anything at all, you are going to be out of luck. Electronically transmitted currency means that if Covenant forces attack your planet, you're at risk of losing your bank account with your life, and if the UNSC decide to nuke those alien bastards? Well, the resulting EMP will fry those chips you might still have on you.

Is This Type of Currency Unique? - So-so. An all credit system is an interesting idea, and as a result, coinage is seen as extremely rare. Then again, we have credit systems in our current society...

Additional Information - A single M9 HE/DP Frag Grenade costs exactly 30 cR. You could buy exactly 7,266 of them for the cost of one W/AV Model 6 Grindell/Galileian Nonlinear Rifle (aka Spartan Laser). I would rather have the former. Also, a Moa Burger is only 7.77 cR! What a deal!

What's This About?! - Oh no, you need malaria pills! Or maybe guns of some kind! Too bad you're strapped for cash! But wait... you just killed a warlord, and he had some blood diamonds on him... maybe you could use those? I hear that it works for demon hunters trapped in the pit, so it might work for you too...

Is This Type of Currency Practical? - Like some other entries on this list, diamonds are practical on a small scale. Sure, they are tiny enough to carry around, but they are also incredibly rare. Unless you are really cheap, you'll be scrounging for currency by the time you reach end-game. Also, people will want to steal your shiny, shiny diamonds. Because they're diamonds.

Is This Type of Currency Unique? - Of course. Paper money is infinitely easier to deal with than diamonds, and you probably won't get robbed as often for carrying the former around. Also, only dangerous folk (black market guys and half-demon/half-man things) accept diamonds for trade, so there's that....

What's This About?! - In the mystical land of Hyrule, many things happen of note. Maybe an evil wizard uses a spell to influence the king and his guard, maybe an evil sometimes-pig-sometimes-man person raises some hell. Maybe someone accidentally cut up a chicken, and the whole town is being punished by its brothers-in-arms. However, the one constant in the land of Hyrule is wealth, and that wealth usually takes the form of rupees, or man-sized vaguely-diamond coins that make an intriguing tinkling noise when they hit the ground.

Is This Type of Currency Practical? - While rupees are usually large, they are also the uniform currency for Hyrule. Shopkeeper in the center of town? He'll take rupees for that fairy prison... er, I mean, "bottle." Evil witch living in the forest? She'll take rupees for that magic blue "heal-everything" potion. Fairy hiding behind the waterfall or in the center of the lake? She'll take rupees, tell your fortune, and perhaps will increase your bomb or arrow count while she's at it. Not to mention that demon in the woods that'll take rupees for a digging game, or the one that'll sell you a shield if yours gets devoured by a Like-Like.

This isn't to mention the fact that you can find rupees hidden everywhere. Dig a hole? Rupees! Run into a tree? Rupees! Cut open a bush? Rupees!

Is This Type of Currency Unique? - Eh, not really. India would like to have a word with you, LoZ.

What's This About?! - Suddenly, you find yourself in the vaguely familiar future present, or perhaps a giant fantasy castle made of pain. Whatever it is, you're either a (pre-3) completely awesome ninja warrior, or a mage/warrior/pyromancer/thief/etc etc. And the world you live in? It hates your guts. You can't survive with a non-smithed Dragon Sword, or an unupgraded pyromancer's glove. Luckily, the funds for these upgrades are just around the corner....

Is This Type of Currency Practical? - And by "around the corner," I mean inside that zombie, ninja, or other ne'er-do-well, ripe for the taking. That's right: you're gonna be ripping the very essence of life from a person, to use for your own sick, nefarious purposes.

Good thing enemies are literally everywhere (conflict, duh). Still, Souls as currencies aren't that practical; I forsee a huge increase in violent crimes (i.e., murder) to fund business. Remember, kids: being morally bankrupt is worse than actually being bankrupt.

Is This Type of Currency Unique? - Yeah, unique enough. Only the absolute worst places would operate on the premise of killing someone and harvesting their soul to use for cash, and thankfully, there aren't many locations like that.

What's This About?! - A long, long time ago, demons ruled Earth and probably weren't very nice. Luckily, Humanity had an asset on their side: the Legendary Dark Knight... Sparda! Years later, his son, Dante, has taken after daddy dearest and is killing demons... with Style!

But what's a half-demon bad ass going to do when he need to get Stinger, Level 2, or upgrade Ebony and Ivory to be even cooler guns?! Luckily, the God of Time understands Dante's dilemma, and only asks for one thing in return for those upgrades... blood!

Is This Type of Currency Practical? - For a demon hunter, yeah. For a normal person, not really. Demons are nasty pieces of work, and are often known for spewing various fluids from various orifices at alarming rates. Except tears, because baby, devils never cry.

Luckily, I already mentioned that blood, not tears, are used to buy stuff, so that's covered. Just stab away - with Style! - and soon you'll be swimming in Crystallized-for-your-Convenience Demon Blood. Or crackling. Crunching? I dunno, whatever you'd do in crystals I guess.

Is This Type of Currency Unique? - More unique than gold, babe. Like Souls, Demon Blood is a kinda iffy way to run your economy, which makes it limited in scope (in a good way, if you ask me).

What's This About?! - In a year that starts with 2 and has a number of X's that follow, man and machine have managed to co-exist peacefully for however long a sequel takes. Usually, this results in a whole damn pile of broken robots (no Robospitals, duh), who are probably used for scrap. This also means that there are tons of bits and pieces lying about, the most prolific of which is: bolts!

Is This Type of Currency Practical? - See above. Every other week, Dr. Wily tries to suck all the air out of the atmosphere or shoot a giant laser at the planet or trick a Russian scientist into doing that for him. Every other week, Dr. Light sends out his "lab assistant/death machine" Mega Man to stop Wily, who has converted, for example, a groundskeeper robot into a death machine that's wired to explode when damaged enough. So, yeah, there are bolts literally everywhere.

Is This Type of Currency Unique? - Certainly. I wouldn't think of using grease covered machine parts to pay for things. Warning: you'll never wear white again.

Additional Information - One problem with using bolts for currency: you have to interact with... ugh, Auto. That 'bot is messed up, and I'm pretty sure he belongs on some sort of government watch list.

What's This About?! - In the modern day Russian Metro, I bet there are trains, tickets, and subway dogs. People buy their tickets with money, get on the train, and maybe give the subway dog a hamburger or something to appease it.

In the future Russian Metro, the trains are broken down, there aren't tickets any longer, and the subway dogs have been replaced by human-burger eating Nosalises. Standard currency is all but useless, aside from toilet-based functions (also, toilets are probably holes in the ground). Overall, life is pretty bleak... until you get to the Metro's standard currency, military grade bullets.

Is This Type of Currency Practical? - You bet your life it is. Regular bullets are sub-standard in the Metro; sure, they might jive for a clip or five, but they aren't very powerful, and your gun'll probably break if you keep using them. Since you're carrying around ammo anyhow, you might as well load up on what works. And if you choose to use 'em, not only are you going to be able to kill Nosalises faster, you'll also be able to take what's left over to the store for some gas-mask filters or even a new weapon.

Is This Type Of Currency Unique? - Hell yeah it is. I've seen economies based on using your guns before, but before Metro, I'd never seen one based on showing restraint!

What's This About?! - In the near present past, the fifties never ended, Science! has progressed into that crazy area of giant robo-scorpions, powered armor with bulletproof eye slits, and lasers galore.

However, with great Science! comes horrific nuclear apocalypse. The near future present is an awful place to live, full of raiders, slavers, and artificially evolved chameleons that have claws literally prefixed with the word "death." To survive in this mostly hellish/sometimes funny world, you need strength, intelligence, or charisma.... or a steady supply of cola?

Is This Type of Currency Practical? - Well, the struggling remnants of humanity certainly think so. Bottle Caps are easy to find; thanks to pre-War America's rampant consumerism, every street, every city, every store, has a Nuka-Cola machine (sometimes two!). Every bottle of Nuka-Cola has a cap atop it, so you're basically getting money for free! Which brings me to my next point....

Is This Type of Currency Unique? - Of course! Usually, one has to pay to drink, but with Nuka-Cola, well... it's basically paying you! Just mind the radiation.

Additional Information - Caps are acceptable in most post-War societies, which means you won't have to change your East Coast caps to NCR dollars, or your West Coast caps to, I dunno, punga fruits? Trust me, when you've got a scorpion the size of a small sedan on your ass, you've got better things to do than worry about money exchange.

Also, you can make bottle-cap mines out of many post-War household items! Then you can use those mines to blow crap the hell up!

Well, that's the end of that. I'm sure there are plenty of other notable video game currencies out there, such as:

PokeDollars (Pokemon...)
ADAM (BioShock)
Zenny (Various)

amongst others, but I could only pick the ones I felt deserved a spot on the list. Some of them are more ridiculous than others, and some are kinda bland, but hey, that's life. Hope you enjoyed reading this list, and if you haven't already, I think you should play any of the excellent games mentioned above.

-The preceding list has been written by yours truly, Juhanor. See you around, bruv!-

List by Juhanor (08/16/2012)

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