I've been an Xbox Live Gold Member for six years now. I happily remember my first, clunky, pale-colored and decidedly un-sexy 360 console. Me and my college buddies competed in a Jeopardy trivia night and, as the gamer in the group, it was understood the system would get the most use out of me.
Ever since then I have logged countless hours losing myself in digital playgrounds and epic, virtual canvases created by an assortment of thinkers and artists. The console has been a respite from the daily troubles of life, a refuge of pure friendship and joy. I can scroll through my games history and pinpoint moments in time, what I was thinking and feeling and preoccupied with by checking the dates of each achievement.
My 360 is a digital journal of sorts, a chronicle not just of my favorite games, but of my life these past six years. With a 59,086 Gamerscore, an almost completely full 250G hard drive, fifty-two digital titles in my library, and 185 games in my history, I can say with the utmost confidence that the system has gotten the most use out of me (though the original trivia-night console has long departed this world - they weren't that sturdy back then, if you recall).
While I'm sure other gamers have numbers that far exceed my own, I'm happy with what I've done with the 360 and what it's meant to me - that it's gotten a lot of use but that it also hasn't destroyed my life nor my appreciation for reality. I also pride myself on knowing how to efficiently navigate the interface and use it to my advantage, keeping apprised to all the latest new releases, deals, and the like, knowing a variety of little tricks and such.
As my days with the console wind down, and I embark on a new decade with Xbox One and/or PS4, I would like to pass on something valuable to my fellow gamer.
I'm always surprised to discover many Xbox owners don't seem to know the ins and outs of the system. I realize now that this is perfectly normal, considering most just want to pop a game in, play, maybe watch Netflix, and turn it off. But if you do a bit of digging through the various windows and panes of the Xbox Live menus, you'll discover sales & specials, nuances with sign-in preferences, music libraries, as well as a host of excellent entertainment options that are not always apparent on the surface.
And there is one particular benefit available to Xbox Live Gold Members that deserves a greater deal of exposure, and you should take advantage of it immediately, if you haven't already.
And that promotion is the Xbox Live Rewards Program.
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Xbox Live Rewards is a promotion that gamers can sign up for, free of charge. It's nothing more than a website that users sign into with their Windows ID, thus linking their Xbox activity with the Xbox Live Rewards promotions.
Here's how the program works:
It's all about earning credits.
Credits are essentially money that gamers earn by taking monthly surveys, purchasing games, TV shows, and movies, earning higher gamer scores, renewing their Xbox Live Gold Membership, and referring Gold Memberships to friends.
Every time you earn 5,000 credits, the credits (or the cash equivalent) are deposited into your account. This means that the next time you buy something on Xbox Live you will be asked if you would like to apply your earned credits to the purchase, thus getting a discount depending on how many credits you earned.
5,000 credits equals $5.
With many games getting the discount treatment these days, an added five dollar discount that you earned through playing a game is undeniably cool. There are also a wide assortment of excellent Arcade games you can pick up for five or ten dollars.
You can also deposit your credits early if you don't feel like waiting until you've reached 5,000.
It's shockingly easy and purely beneficial to anyone who has an Xbox Live Gold membership and spends any money on anything entertainment-related through their console. Even if one doesn't frequently make purchases via Xbox Live, signing up for the promotion guarantees you a small, but very real rebate on any future purchase simply based on your achievements.
So your Gamerscore (which is the accumulation of achievement points you've earned playing video games) can actually earn you cash-back!
The promotion certainly benefits those who spend more, and is designed to encourage more participation and more spending. They're still working out the various promotions.
It has evolved over the past few years to better reflect what people actually do with their console. And the website offers stats that reflect your playtimes, most used apps, and the like. It's a fun little chart of your progress and history with the 360 or Xbox One.
If you're going to spend money on Xbox Live anyway, why not sign up for this free program and get some money back, and even an occasional little VIP gift from Microsoft? The rewards might be seemingly small, but it always feels good to get free money.
So do yourself a favor, and start thinking about the future! Join Xbox Live Rewards if you haven't already, and start earning your rightful credits!
Live long and prosper.
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