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Welcome to the longest-running* yet least-read** blog on the internet! Here you'll find me writing about all the things that I write about, which strikes me, just now, as somewhat recursive. In any case, enjoy :)

* not true
** probably true

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Why I no longer play online social games

"...The game is a Chinese finger trap of the mind: soon you realize that inspiration is free, which, in economics terms, means that the inflated value of single-energy-point actions when “inspired” is not a “bonus” or a “maximum” value — it’s the baseline; it’s the “minimum”. Once you grasp that your character can be made inspired with a little flick of the game’s mechanics, you’ll never want to do money-earning actions without being inspired — and if you do (and this is the important part!) you’ll feel lazy.

Lazy! Lazy! Stupid! Lazy! (Fat!) Lazy! Stupid! Lazy!

So you’ll need four “newspapers” to “unlock” your “newspaper article” writing skill, which allows you to now use energy points to perform actions which earn money (while “inspired”, of course, so as not to feel lazy); perform those actions on a new skill enough times to earn a one-time skill level upgrade, which earns experience points and a money bonus — and so you realize you are literally (figuratively) living in a spider web. The currency which buys the “newspapers” to unlock your new skill-level-upgrade opportunity is, of course, virality: beg your friends.
Your friends all have newspapers. They have ice cubes and coffee beans and blocks of cheese and turnip seeds and guitar strings and sheet music and turtle-doves as well: they have whatever you need. They have it even if they aren’t playing the game. However, unless you ask them for it, they can’t give it to you. Unless you ask them for it, they don’t Actually Have it. If they are at the point where they need “Muse” items to build a Fucking Bookshelf, and you’re at the exact same point, if you ask them for a “Muse”, they can give you one, even if they don’t have it. You can give them one, too, even if you don’t have it. This is what suffices for escapism: that we have the power to create ephemeral things with concrete value, which can then be bartered for a bookshelf which is fully assembled as opposed to on the floor in a box.

In the future, three months will have passed, and you’ll still be checking in, from time to time, just to send items to your friends — all it takes is a single click in your inbox — and then maybe you’ll see that weeds have grown in your garden, and you’ll spend nine energy points to get rid of all of them, and then maybe by then you’ll have gotten a long- and good-enough look at your old homestead to consider coming back, and maybe spending a little money, this time.

In other words: we play, so that our friends are not miserable. We suffer, so that others might not suffer. We pay money so that we might suffer less.

What gruesome psychomathematiconomist devised this heart-labyrinth? Or: now you know what happens to psychiatrists who are decommissioned because they break the doctor-patient confidentiality rule."


Fifty-ONe-Fifty said...

Is there like a FAcebook where you have to pay people?

Michael McClung said...

This one is talking ab out the sims online,I believe, but it's true for all those facebook games like cityville and farmville as well.