Lost Xbox 360 Worth $1,000,000?

Just how much is a lost Xbox 360 worth? Could it be $83,333 per week? $11,111 per day? $463 per hour? Make that $1 million total, or how much either an extraordinarily irate or incredibly enterprising Yale film major is suing US Airways for, after someone with the airline allegedly swiped or lost his Xbox 360 on or around December 17, 2008 during a flight from New Haven to Cincinnati. $1 million is the maximum amount allowable by law.

The Xbox 360 apparently had a "specialized hard drive," which the Yale student, Jesse Maiman, says cost him more than $1,000. He's asking for $1,700 for system reimbursement, and according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, wants the airline to pay "for 'non-economic distress' of at least $25,000, but 'in the maximum amount allowable by law or, in the alternative, in the sum of $1,000,000'."

Now it's possible Jess Maiman's as mendacious as the story makes him sound, but my money's on his lawyer shooting the moon. I've heard the most intelligent-seeming people make torturous excuses for the most outrageous litigation on the basis of exploiting the byzantine monkey-works that comprises the US legal system. The ethical justification always comes down in the exact same place...a disingenuous "If you can, then of course you should."

To be fair, there's more than just static "hard value" involved here. While a brand new Xbox 360 retails for upwards of $300, the loss of downloadable content and in particular custom save data adds a "soft value" factor. Assuming the guy had an Xbox Live account, his Gamertag data, e.g. achievements and such, is probably safe. But with the loss of a hard drive, any music and video data's history, along with any progress-based game incidentals, from save points to all the little finder bits sprinkled through games like Resistance: Fall of Man and Gears of War 2.

Word to the wise: Never, and I repeat never check your video game systems. Ever. When I moved to the UK, I managed to stow my US Xbox 360, Xbox 360 debug, PS3, and Wii all in a single carry-on case (no mean feat, and that was flying fully-loaded in coach). As far as I'm concerned, you trust something to baggage handlers, you forfeit your right to ownership.

Even then, my wife and I took out travel insurance to cover the systems in the event of theft or general loss. And I took the time beforehand to back up all the volatile data to a separate hard drive which I left behind in a safe box, just in case.

If that seems paranoid, I'm pleading guilty.

After gaping at Matt Peckham's carryon, the incoming customs guy at Heathrow ended up quizzing Matt on whether to buy a Wii or an Xbox 360. He's not telling what he recommended at twitter.com/game_on.

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