So, much like yesterday's post about Thanksgiving and sports, today I figured I'd make another topical post. With this being the largest shopping day of the year, what better way to go after it then to discuss shopping in games. Don't worry, this will be quick and painless :D
Now, shopping for gear in games is usually a fairly mundane affair, at least in my experience. You look in the book for the item you want, see how much it is, and ask the GM if you can find it. The GM will then, most likely, roll some dice and give you a yes or a no. At this point, you drop the cash, grab the gear, and you're done. It is quick, efficient, and when you think about it, not like real shopping at all now is it?
Why is this? Well, for the most part it is because shopping is boring, and not very interesting to do. The GM, and players, in a lot of cases don't want to focus on the scene when Sarah buys her Paladin a +3 shield of defending, they want to get to the part where they kick the Arch-Lich's door in, and Sarah uses that shield to bash a skeleton's head off. However, this doesn't have to be the case.
As anyone who went shopping today can probably tell you, there were a lot of people at the stores looking for the same thing. This means that some people very likely went home, or at least to a different set of stores, empty handed. Don't believe me? Look at the Wii sales from its launch year. People were lined up outside of Walmarts, EB Games, and KMarts at ridiculous o'clock in the morning for months hoping to get one. I know, I did it for 3 weeks in a row, and was the first person to not get one at least 8 times before finally getting my hands on one. (yes, I'm a geek and a dork, I get it :D) Now, that wasn't a particularly fun time, but I did meet interesting people, and there was definitely some experiences. I'd also point out that I am not the main character of an awesome story.
Which brings me to my point. Done right, shopping can be an adventure in and of itself. A bit of bad luck can lead someone to getting robbed. That item that is absolutely needed to continue the plot along, could be bought by someone before the party gets there. There are a lot of ways you can have fun with shopping trips, and not a lot of GMs do them - at least in my experience.
This isn't to say that you should do them all the time. Every trip to the mall is not an epic quest with danger and intrigue, but once in a while it can be a lot of fun, and help give players a lot of different ways to explore what they do, what they want, and how they interact with the world. All they need is the opportunity to go out and do it.