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Monday, December 16, 2013

And now for something Completely different

A little humor and a little life lesson. Here is my opinion of Facebook games;

Once upon a time a child with a set of cute cheeks and a happy smile approached you and offered you some candy. It looked legit and everyone else was taking that candy, so you take it. It is good, it is sweet, there is nothing wrong with it. Well, at first there was nothing wrong but for some reason that candy is all you can think about now. You ask her for more and she happily obliges. Oh, it is good and you are in heaven while you eat it. Then comes the crash. Oh dear God where is more candy!? You look for her but she isn't there.
Just as you turn a corner a sharply dressed man who looks like he stepped out of a circus approaches you. With a sly smile and a witty glare he holds out candy, more than the little girl had altogether for the whole neighborhood. This is the real stuff. You go to grab it, but he swipes his hand away and shakes his head. He hooks his carnival barker cane over the other arm and holds out his empty hand. “It's gonna cost you.” he declares with that wicked smile. This is no gentleman, this is Lucifer. But you are hooked, you can't help it. You must have that candy! So you reach into your pocket and pull out your wallet and behold, you have no cash. A despicable grin crosses his face as he informs you that he can take credit cards. And, at only 99 cents a pop, you will get just enough to get by for five more minutes. Sounds cheap enough, so you do it, and after five minutes you need more, so you do it again, and again, and again.

You need help!

What did I just illustrate? Oh, you might be thinking this is an anti-drug pitch, but it isn't. I want to illustrate how Facebook games are made.
Anyone playing CandyCrush might recognize the villains in my story, and the subject matter made that clear....I hope. Just like a drug dealer working on getting a new customer, these app games common to Facebook are created to drive addicts insane. They provide you a few free helps, and they give you the first few levels by making them so incredibly easy and fun. Once you are hooked suddenly those helps cost. To make matters worse, you have spent hours and hours developing your game and you are soooooo very close to a victory at that certain level, but you will surely lose unless you buy a help. It seems cheap enough at first, but in the long run it is an utter waste of money and time.

This is how Facebook games are like drug dealers.

You walk down the street and you see all these people that are always there. They wear the dirtiest clothes and hold cardboard signs. They are beggars, people who solicit unsuspecting citizens for a living.
Oh dear lord, is that Billy!? Yes, it is. Oh no, he got sucked into this. “What happened to him?” You wonder. Oh no! Here he comes, he recognizes me.
“hey man, can you help me. I just need a few more friends to help me.”
You try to look away, hoping he hasn't recognized you. Walking faster you leave him to his begging.
Later you get home and there, in your mailbox, are dozens of letters from Billy, all asking you to join him. He wants you to help him by becoming part of the same community that has left him on the street. He wants you to willingly step into that world and start abusing the same substances that made him who he is today, and worse than that it will eventually lead you to doing the same thing.

What was that all about? Well, I wasn't going all sociopolitical here, this is an illustration of how Facebook games lead our nearest and dearest to turn into beggars. You know the kind. One day they hardly message you on facebook, they might leave a comical comment under a post of yours now and then, but otherwise they are just a face to the side of the screen. Then, BAM, you are suddenly inundated with requests in your message box. They aren't heartfelt, they are form letters crafted by the cruel dealers of the drugs. Each one pretending to be your friend so that you can get sucked into their world. And each one begging you to join so you can give them gifts inside a game world you want nothing of. Once or twice is okay, but suddenly its every day and they even share posts about it onto the newsfeed, begging even more for people to join in their addictions.

This is how Facebook games turn people into beggars.

Welcome to the distant future. The world has changed a lot since your day. We live in what you might call a dystopia. Well, half of you do anyway. You see, eons ago the rich got so rich that they separated themselves from those loathsome poor. All good things of society are now on one side of the great fence, and the rest of the undesirable parts of society are on the other.
We both enjoy the lives we live and are given the same privileges. A home, food, clothing. It is just that if you have extra money, you can bribe your way to the top of the food chain and get unique and special treatment. You can buy yourself a home that is a mansion while the world government provides the rest a shack that barely stands on its own. Food, well we get what we want with money, you get what you can scrounge for. Everything is this way. If you have money, you are comfortable, if you don't, you hate your lives.
Now, there are open forums to speak about the lives we live and the games we play. But, if any of the undesirables, or non-paying people, come to speak, they are laughed at and ridiculed accordingly and made to feel the shame that is their existence. Usually they leave bitterly and crawl back into their pathetic holes.
Once in a while there are games we play. We invite them to play as well, those undesirables that is. What they don't know is that they are merely there to entertain us, the paying population. They come in expecting a fair, level playing field. HA! They are ground into piles of gross meat if they even set one dirty foot onto our playing field. It is quite entertaining to tell you the truth. Why would the non-payers even consider entering the “games”? It is because the government cleverly dangles before them prizes that, if won, would put near at our level. The lure is so great that they forget themselves and actually think it possible to win such trophies. In the end, using our bought tools and weapons, we crush them, their spirits and their hopes. They are lucky to be left alive after the games. We, the payers, garner the rewards and that only makes us all that more powerful in the long run. It is a win-win for us, and a lose-lose for them. Isn't that grand!

As dystopian as that sounds, it is a reality for Facebook games. At least certain ones. Games that pit players against players have a clever way of making it so that if you pay, you WILL win over the non-payers. The costs are just high enough that even if you throw a little money at it, those who have no lives and endless pockets (or daddy's credit card) will still crush you.
In most of the games I have been involved with, and there have been some terrifically bad at this, the game itself is designed to truly punish the non-payers. The game is fun and has a lot of worth as a game. But, the best abilities in the game that make you truly powerful are only available to those who dump cash into the game, and a lot of it. Worse than that, often the best abilities/items/allies/whatever are so good that you don't need to be a good player or tactical genius to win against every non-payer you come across. It would be like playing paint ball and everyone is given the exact same type of gun and amount of ammo, but if you pay a huge lump sum, you get the atomic-bomb of paint that when used will leave you clean but smear everybody in a five mile radius with paint in three seconds. You don't need to be good, just have money.
Add to all that, when you go to say anything about the way the game is designed and the fact that paying players are favored by the way the game is laid out, you are attacked. The paying players treat the non-paying players like they are the pathetic little kid that keeps following his big brothers friends around. They are teased, mocked, belittled, and told to either spend money or shut up. And, I have seen very few moderators of such forums step in and defend the non-payer. The mods know where the money is. Yet, the game will sell itself in ads on the side of your facebook page as "Great new Facebook game that's FREE!" but then goes on to punish anyone who actually attempts to play for free. 

This is why Facebook games are like a dystopian future.

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