I suppose I might feel slightly less geeky about this if it were some cool MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game) like Second Life or one of those orgy of violence games like World of Warcraft or Guild Wars. But no, it’s not. I am a geek addicted to Facebook and Tap games.
For the uninitiated (that rock you’ve been living under must be really nice), Facebook has a number of community participation games that you can play that tend to be somewhat addictive. My drug of choice is Frontierville. It’s a game where you are given a plot of land in the old West where you build, grow crops, raise animals and fight the wilderness. It’s fun. It doesn’t require a lot of thought, just a little planning and the ability to shamelessly beg your friends and/or fellow players for items that will help you advance to the next level.
Tap games are for the iPhone and include such time-sucking gems as Tap Ranch, Tap Ranch Tulips, Tap Town, Tap Fish Exotic and Tap Zoo. They are similar in nature if not location to Frontierville.
I realized that this and the games I play on my iPhone had become an addiction in a two part revelation.
I was up until 1:30 in the morning, knowing full well I had to be at work at 8:00. Then, when I woke up @ 6:30, my first thought was: “Oh crap, I’d better go harvest my cabbage before I get in the shower so it doesn’t go to rot.” The realization came when I was late to work because my cotton ripened early due to some helpful neighbors fertilizing my crops.
It’s payday today. In my usual ritual, I also took time this morning to check my bank account to make sure that the automatic deposit was there. I noticed that my account was about $50 lighter than it should have been. While on a break at work I went through my account to see what I had done and found that in the previous 8 days, I had spent over $130 dollars on virtual goods across all of my games. In my defense, there were some really good sales, but…
THEY ARE VIRTUAL GOODS!!!!!
I might as well have spent money on the cute cloud bunny that was floating by in the sky this afternoon.
The funny (funny psychotic, not funny ha-ha) thing is that none of these games actually cost money to begin playing. In fact, you can play these games in their entirety without ever spending a buck. BUT… if you want the *cool* stuff and neat tricks and super-advancement-making items, you have to spend horseshoes, or ranch bucks or fish bucks depending on the genre.
It starts out innocently enough. They front you bucks enough to buy a cool thing, or revive something. They even give you a buck or two for completing levels. Even so, (and here’s what separates addicts like me from the sane) there is always the WANT. It would be so much easier if I could just buy that extra tool I can’t seem to get people to gift me. I could level up if I just bought the premium Elfin Hair Rabbit. From there, its a slip and slide to horseshoe hell.
So that’s it. Cold hard cash meets cold hard reality and smacks me with the ultimate facepalm moment. It has to stop.
It should be noted, that while sitting in a restaurant typing this blog entry, I have checked my Tap Town buildings twice and only didn’t check my Tap Fish Exotic tanks because the waitress was bringing my food.
So what do I do? The best solution would just be to get off the internet altogether and stop both this madness and all the past and future fits of madness that I have indulged in on more than one occasion. That, however, would be like asking me to stop breathing because there was too much smoke in the air. It would stop the asthmatic attack, but I would die.
The *reasonable* person would say, ‘just stop playing’. However, no reasonable person ever had an addiction – and if they did, they immediately lost their claim to reasonableness the moment it became an addiction. So my approach will be something in between.
1) Block the Applications on Facebook – You cannot break free of an addiction when you are surrounded by other addicts. I don’t want to lose the connection with the non-players. My worry is that even if I block the application, the button is always floating around – in the ads, on the splash screens, in people’s avatars. I might have to go cold turkey on Facebook in its entirety.
2) Delete the apps – This is almost as painful as the Facebook blocks. Mainly because I have invested so much cash into these things that throwing them away would be like… throwing money away on games that have no positive impact on my life. Never mind, I’ll deal with the pain.
So that is my plan. To those who have benefited from my madness and affinity for gifting, my apologies. To Zynga and Gameview Studios, you can’t see it right now but I’m thumbing my nose at you. “I bite my thumb at you sir!” #randomshakespearreference
Anyone wanna form a support group…?