I, like many of of my generation, dream of simple things. Plentiful food, fulfilling friendships and perhaps even owning property. Many video games allow us to live out these fantasies; simulated worlds filling in for the dying hunk of rock we all desperately inhabit. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild offers us the opportunity to escape into a fanciful land full of magic, monsters and high adventure. Most engagingly of all, it gives us the chance to do what many adults between the ages of 22-37 can only dream of: buying a condemned building at ridiculous markup from a shady businessman with discriminatory hiring practises. #Blessed!
The building in question is a two story open-plan construction, located in a scenic location at the edge of historic Hateno village. It’s ideally situated only a few minutes walk to the centre of town and all the local amenities, including East Wind General Store and the Ventest Clothing Boutique. Although in need of a few renovations, it has a suite of original period features and a generous garden attached. In short…it’s a dilapidated shack on the edge of town.
When you first reach the property, it is in the process of being slowly demolished by the staff of Bolson’s Construction. The workers seem pretty happy and well compensated in their jobs, although when you ask about the possibility of employment, they tell you that their boss only employs people whose names end in the syllable ‘-son’. Hyrule doesn’t appear to have much in the way of prejudice, which only makes this clear breach of workplace discrimination policy all the more shocking. Apparently it makes the team ‘work together more effectively’. Yet again, a hardworking and aspirational young person is denied access to employment due to a toxic and exclusive workplace culture.
After making some inquiries with Bolson himself, an individual who’s best described as if Alan Sugar got really into voguing, you’re told that you can take advantage of a great opportunity to buy this property for the low low price of 50,000 rupees. A diamond, the most expensive jewel you can find and sell in the game, is worth 500 rupees. The best way to obtain diamonds is from Zora’s Domain, trading 10 luminous stones for a single diamond. So to buy the house outright, you’d need 100 diamonds, which requires the possession of 1000 luminous stones. Not really a viable option. But Bolson is a generous benefactor, and offers you an alternative. You can pay 3,000 rupees and provide Bolson with 30 wooden bundles. Wood is not particularly expensive, but it is worth noting that Bolson probably needs this raw material to make more homes, which he can presumably sell for more money. Also, the house in question is scheduled for demolition, so Bolson is selling to you at a big markup.
Unfortunately, as property is at a premium in the scenic Hateno coast, if we want somewhere to lie down that isn’t just a temporary space rented at a prohibitive recurring cost, we have to play ball. Notably, Bolson mentions that the wood bundles in the more affordable deal are less about the value of the items, and more about proving that you’re sufficiently committed to this house purchase.
It also requires that you go chop down trees. The plants in Hyrule do seem to regenerate, but it’s still an almost wanton destruction of the landscape in exchange for a comparatively paltry reward. Much like a traditional deposit for a house, the money required is less about a proportionate investment and more about established capital leveraging power over individuals attempting to raise their social standing.
Prior to the events of Breath of the Wild, Link was mortally wounded in a climactic battle with the forces of Calamity Ganon and had to be put into suspended animation to recover. If he had only had the foresight to invest his savings before he was almost killed by spider-machines, he might have accrued enough interest on awakening from his coma 100 years later to actually afford the home outright. And that’s assuming the stability and relative growth of the market through that time, which is actually quite unlikely given that the Hylians’ main currency seems to be the exchange of favours.
In a lot of ways, this is symptomatic of trying to get onto the property ladder in this gig economy. Link ends up undertaking a whole slew of quests to afford the house, most of which end up costing more than they pay. The most profitable enterprise tends to be Shrine Quests, where following a prompt from an NPC leads you to one of the game’s underground mini-dungeons, which often contain highly valuable treasure. On the front end, however, such a journey often requires you to obtain food, supplies, weapons (which break), special items, rare ingredients…we could go on. It’s a pain, but sometimes there’s no avoiding crafting a special dish to get some irascible townsperson to calm down and give you whatever it was you came to ask them for. Money isn’t usually a concern in BotW, and Link is fine living paycheck to paycheck. But it’s amazing how the stress builds once you need to start saving.
So, once you scrape together enough funds and desecrate the sanctity of nature sufficiently to appease the cruel and fickle will of Bolson, you can purchase the house. He’s even kind enough to throw in a free weapon rack! Wow, that will look great next to… absolutely no other furniture. Because although you’re now the proud owner of a slightly derelict structure, furniture and other decorations come at a premium. You’re offered a slight incentive to customise your new domicile with a discount on your first purchase. I, foolishly assuming that the inside of the house would have basic amenities like a kitchen and a front door, opted to spend my discounted first option on flowerbeds. On the plus side, they look delightful. On the downside, I still have to sleep in the hotel.
But, as I stand in my empty living space, marveling at the blank walls and the total absence of anything approaching a basic amenity, I know that I’ve made it. Like Link, I hope to be mortgage free by the time I’m 117. Maybe 110, if I’m lucky.