The Gateway is in beta, as is the game (“beta”), so it may not be working 100%, and not all features are enabled, possibly, but so far, it seems to be firing on all cylinders for what I’ve been using it for.
So what is Gateway?
- It’s a way to view your character online
- You can buy and sell through the auction house.
- You can send and receive in-game mail
- You can do…stuff…with your guild (Not in a guild yet, so I don’t know what is offered)
- You can update your professions progress (crafting)
I’ve been playing MMOs since the dawn of the “modern” design, and the one concept that has always been at the forefront of conceptualization was the idea that so long as we’re accessing game data through a client via the Internet, why can’t we access the same or a subset of data through other clients via the Internet? Granted, we’re talking about product data, which is essentially what we’re paying for, and what we’re paying the operators to keep safe on our behalf, so there’s the data integrity concerns, but if a company employs enough smart people who can create and run a real-time game that allows thousands of people to simultaneously dance naked in a virtual town square, I think they’d be up to the challenge of creating a web app to allow me to check my auctions and launch my crafting tasks through a browser. Why this hasn’t become standard is beyond me.
Granted, not everyone wants or needs to take care of game business…you know…from work or school. Here’s the thing: we’re rapidly transitioning from a gated model of online gaming to an honest to goodness ‘Murican buffet model. We have so many games to choose from that we buy them now at stupidly low prices or download them for free and promise that we’ll get to them some day before we die. Loyalty of the customer is, quite frankly, a thing of the past, or is relegated to those few with unusually strong wills. Not everyone can make a good product, which means even fewer people can make the kind of product that causes people to forego all other opportunities that are too good to pass up, or that they’re peer-pressured into adopting. If you want to attract people, and more importantly, to keep them playing your game, why not give them the opportunity to never leave? It’s an insidious plan worth of Illithid, sure, but it’s wrapped up in so much fun that folks will thank you for the privilege. Thanks, Cryptic!
More importantly, and as loath as I am to say this, the ubiquity of mobile devices practically begs for some kind of way to play without playing, and for companies to keep their product in the thoughts of it’s users no matter where they go. To be honest, if your online game isn’t offering some kind of portal that gives your players an opportunity to keep playing while on the go, I have to wonder if you’re as dedicated to being as “cutting edge” as your About Us page claims you are. Technically, this would have been cutting edge in 2000. Now a lack of extra-game tools is just a gaping hole of pure let-down in 2013.
Virtual tabletops have only recently become big news, with two new players taking the field as Tabletop Forge and Roll20. They’re actually the latest offerings in a rather underground movement to allow older tabletop gamers the ability to reunite with one another over the Internet after years and responsibilities have forced them to far flung locations.
Wizards of the Coast, owners of Dungeons & Dragons, actually had their own VTT. It was more infamous than famous, because it languished and took on more forms than any single person can remember. At one point, it was to be a 3D affair, but the “end” result was more of a traditional, top down VTT system.
I put “end” in quotes because Wizards decided to finally give up on it, which is insanely sad. They’re rather stingy with their IP and licensing, making any VTT that wishes to support D&D subject to a lot of furtive glances and razor-walking so as not to wake the wrath of WotC’s Lawyers (level 1000 Elite Brute). WotC was actually in the best position to make a VTT, though: they owned an iconic system, had a massive stable of resources in monsters, stories, and sourcebooks, and were adept at making quality merchandise like their Dungeon Tiles, which seems like the perfect storm for a VTT system.
In a fit of delirium, WotC has allowed Game Table Online to take over the VTT. The work that was done on the WotC “version” was packed up and moved to the care of GTO, where was unpacked, debranded, and set up as what will hopefully and eventually be a game-system agnostic VTT. As part of their deal, GTO can’t market the VTT using D&D 4E (despite the product being specifically designed for it), but they can offer D&D 4E compatibility, which means you can get access to the Dungeon Tiles, tokens, and much of the 4E “feel”.
Sadly, this is quite possibly the worst VTT you can employ in your service. The entire potential was squandered – no, pissed away – by whatever excuses WotC can muster as to why it took so long, and why it ended up in the state it’s in. Again, it had the potential to define the genre of VTT software, but it kind of sat on the couch in it’s bathrobe eating Cheetos until it’s parents decided enough was enough, and kicked it’s half-baked ass into the street. Hopefully GTO has the source code and will improve on it, because as a dungeon builder it’s very strong, offering a whole lot of tiles to drag and drop your creations into existence. As a usable VTT, pretty much any other option is a better option at this time. Even drawing on paper and holding it up to a webcam.
Basic usage of the tabletop is free. However, many of the tokens and tiles are “buy to use” through GTO’s cash shop. I’m OK with that, because I think GTO is a small business, and they’ve inherited a pretty big clusterfuck. I’m sure WotC requires them to “pay for the privilege” of using the assets they were going to cram into the dumpster otherwise, and since they’re pro-quality assets, anyone who wants to make a go of it should go whole-hog and support GTO in their up-hill battle.
So, I took out the crazy suit yesterday and laid down some sweet wish list about the kind of “game” I’d like to have. Not really a game, per se, but basically a toolset which uses company-created assets that I could buy in order to create my own adventures, which other people could jump in and play.
The results seem to be a bit more “adventure-y” than I had envisioned, and the characters seem more skewed towards the “iOS trend” of making avatars heads bigger than their bodies, but holy hell! I ‘m not going to look a gift wish in the…mouth, I guess.
For our regular reader, I apologize for this deluge of Skylanders related posts, but aside from Rift, it’s what I’ve been occupying my time with recently, and now that I’ve had some time with it, I wanted to keep people in the loop. Skylanders is a pretty expensive proposition, and I’ve heard from a few people who have expressed interest in picking this up for their kids for the holidays, so I feel that I’d be remiss if I didn’t do my part to help them in their decisions.
I’m into Skylanders for about $117.99 at this point. Part of that is me, part of that is me bowing to pressure from my daughter. We took advantage of the Toys ‘R Us deal whereby holders of their rewards card could get a coupon for a free figure by spending over $100 between launch and December 24th, and we crested that ridge by taking advantage of TRU’s buy 2 get 1 free deal which brought us to the grand total stated above. We got the TRU exclusive Legendary three pack, the Darklight Crypt expansion, and a lone figure, and are awaiting our coupon. I had gone in wanting to get another three pack as the freebie, but TRU had sold out of normal three packs by the time we got there. I guess everyone had the same idea, so at least the game is selling.
Now We’re Thinking With Portals
I took the portal device to the PC, plugged it in, and installed the driver with no issues at all. I then proceeded to log into the website and register the four figures that I had been allotted by my daughter: Trigger Happy, Legendary Chop Chop, Legendary Spyro, and Ghost Roaster. Placing them on the portal told me that the figure was unregistered, and asked if I wanted to associate this with my account. I haven’t read up on it (documentation is still pretty scarce), but I assume that these characters cannot be registered to another account (like my daughter’s) without first unregistering them on my own. Thankfully, when you select a character from your lair, you can unregister it with the click of a button. I don’t know if unregistering will pull the character from your vault or not.
I spent about an hour playing online…well, playing is a generous term. There’s not a lot to do in the online world, as I had stated previously. Your character has a different leveling scheme between the web and console games, so you can’t jump from one to the other to work on the same stats. However, I believe that stats raised via the console game do have and effect in the mini-games of the web version. One question I have is whether or not the money you earn in one transfers to the other, and vice versa. This is important because you can earn a lot of cash in the web version playing the mini-games. It can be spent online to upgrade and expand your personal skyland, but money is also used in the console version to buy upgraded powers. I wouldn’t want to go all Martha Stewart in the web version when I could spend the money going all Bruce Lee in the console version.
Going All Bruce Lee In The Console Version
Last night my daughter and I returned to chapter 2 of the console game. Our task was to liberate a golden propeller engine from a pirate airship so we could fit it to our balloon in order to reach the sky fortress we apparently have to reach. We learned a few things about how the game progresses in this level:
- More enemies are introduced as the game progresses
- Some enemies are designed to really mess with you. One enemy protects nearby allies against ranged attacks. Playing Trigger Happy, this really sucked, and because it’s all auto-aim, I had to angle myself to take out this support character before I could go after the allies.
- There’s bosses and mini-bosses. We ran into a troll-thing which took more attention to drop then a normal enemy. Then we ran into two of them at a time. Then we ran into his boss at the end of chapter 3.
- Puzzles are to be expected.
- Optional content is to be expected. This sometimes takes the place of elemental gates which require Skylanders of a certain elemental bent, but we ran into a situation in chapter 3 where we had to activate a button, and were given 22 seconds to secure a newly-reveled gem before the gate closed on us. We failed that, as we were unsure where the gem was in relation to where we were, and where we needed to be.
- At the end of each chapter, you’re given a scorecard which shows how many of the stage features you achieved. We have yet to achieve more then 25% on any of the chapters we’ve tackled, which makes me throw my hands up in confusion because we never saw opportunities to find the things they say we should have been able to find. And yes, there is a strategy guide, although my daughter told me in no uncertain terms that she did not want this; she enjoyed finding things on her own. I, on the other hand, am taunted by the things I did not find, and will be revisiting these levels over and over until I have found them all.
I can say in all seriousness that the shit does get real in chapter 3. There’s a lot of jumping puzzles here, and the elemental gate zones seem to be taking longer to complete (maybe they just suck, though, as one air gate zone had us jumping directly INTO a teleporter which sent us back to the beginning). There are also far more enemies per square inch then there were previously. We ran into carefully placed ambushes filled with ninjas, chompies, ranged-protection ghosts, blue elemental whirlwinds, and strolling trolls. Although we didn’t die, we did lose enough life for me to worry, which actually made me happy; I was growing concerned that this game would be a cakewalk, but the difficulty seems to be ramping up nicely.
I am very pleased with Skylanders, pretty much all around. The materials they provide are of excellent quality, from the design to the paint jobs to the heft of each piece. The portal peripheral works on both console and PC without a hitch. The hot-swapping mechanic is fast and useful and can be both necessary and addictive if you’re a completionist. The game is targeted at a younger crowd, but don’t let that fool you, adults: if you dismiss it as “child’s play”, it’ll chew you up before you know it. It’s an excellent parent-child coop game, although the virtual tether between the two characters may lead to sibling or interpersonal conflict with friends. Same goes for the kids.
On the downside, there’s the obvious expense of it all. Skylanders is calibrated like Pokemon, so if you have/your child has an addiction to collection, it’s going to cost you. If you’re a completionist, you’ll need at least one of each elemental type in the game, and that’s going to cost you. I wish the web version was more relevant and useful beyond it’s potential for cash farming. Right now, the friend list is useless since there’s no multiplayer (that I can see) games, and you have to actually enter “PortalMaster #12345” when looking for someone to add to your friends list (this is a kids game, so privacy is in full effect). Thankfully, the web game isn’t necessary, and you need never approach in order to feel that you’re getting your money’s worth.
If you’re a parent thinking of picking up the starter kit for your young’n this holiday, do so, safe in the knowledge that the physical component will keep the product relevant in their minds, and that the game is fun and challenging for both them and for you (if you’re so inclined to play, which I do recommend). At this point, I hope this is lucrative for Activision, as I’d like to see a sequel or maybe some DLC for the game to keep it going and to make the investment in hardware worth it in the long run.
Skylanders is available though two possible avenues: the console (or PC-specific version), and the online multiplayer Flash version. When you buy the starter kit, you have to choose a platform (Xbox, Wii, PS3, 3DS, or PC) and you get the three characters, the portal, and the game. However, you can visit the Universe and play the online version even if you don’t have the physical goods, at least for a while (I suspect they expire the trial characters they lend you).
The console version is where the meat and potatoes live. You can play single player, two players, or a battle mode. The gameplay itself is like Gauntlet, where you (and your friends) run around and destroy boxes, vases, foliage, enemies, or anything not nailed down, and pick up the loot that the ruins vomit up. When you start off, you have to endure a lot of exposition, which is good because the manual sucks. However, younger kids off their Ritalin might just want to make with the bloodbath, so give them some crayons or something to amuse them while you forge ahead. In the name of expedition, of course.
As has been written elsewhere, Activision has brought their “A” game. And by “A” game, I mean the game of “punch you in the gut and steal your wallet”. The game world is broken up into elemental zones, and the elemental type of the Skylander you’re using is enhanced in a zone of like type. Also, there are locked side trials (a la Little Big Planet multiplayer challenges) that require a specific elemental type to unlock. Expensive? Hell yes! Pain in the ass? Not really, because the figures are hot-swappable. You can pick up a figure from the base and plunk down another to unlock something or to get the benefits in a specific zone. The transition is pretty quick, so you won’t end up rolling your eyes when presented with the opportunity to dot every eye or cross every tee.
As with any game of modern temperament, there’s levels-up to be had, collectables to be found, and cheevos to be unlocked. There seems to be a fair share of voiceovers, as there’s running exposition accompanying your saving of the world, including pipes provided by that ubiquitous vocal thespian Patrick Warbuton as Flynn, the balloon captain who ferries your privileged ass around from place to place.
One really cool aspect of the system is that you can purchase expansion packs which are more then just new characters. One is a pirate ship, and the other a crypt, and each comes with a character, an expansion, and a buff item. Placing the expansion on the portal opens up a new area in the map for you to play, and the buff will…well…give you a buff. I wonder if this data is on the disk with the original game, or if it’s somehow embedded in the object. Nah…must be on the disk…otherwise, that would be quite a coup for Activision’s Wizards. Right?
The console game is leveled at people in the younger age range playing with someone older, or just someone slightly older alone. Adults may find the gameplay a bit too simplistic, a la Free Realms, unless you like collecting virtual hats (which grant buffs and look appropriately silly on Spyro and friends), or just enjoy blowing stuff up and seeing the crazy puzzles the game throws at you.
The web game is a tad bit simplistic right now, but they have a “beta” sticker on the logo, so I guess that means they expect us to give ‘em a pass for it. This is where stuff gets real, though: you can hook the portal up to your PC and place your figures upon it’s milky surface to have your characters – with all their stats and loot in-tact – appear in the web game. Don’t want to clutter your pristine PC with the portal drivers they ask you to download? Supposedly you can copy a hand-written code from the console version and enter it into the web to translate the bits, a la Metroid (for those who remember Metroid). I have yet to try this, and I wonder if you lost your figure (or had it eaten by a dog) if you could transfer the data from the figure to the web, and then from the web to a new figure. Might need to ask the Skylander brain-trust about that.
The web game is basically socializing and mini-games including – you guessed it – a Skylanders version of Angry Birds (I can’t get away from those douchebags). There’s a common hub where you can rub elbows (and wings, tails and assorted beast-parts) with other players, although keeping in mind that this is technically targeted at kids, might not be worth the electrons it’s printed upon. For the privacy freaks, there was an option to make your entire online experience solitary, which is great for parents who want their child to have the full range of Skylander experiences (since we paid for em!), but without the added discomfort of having to deal with other people.
The web game is decent for those who are hopelessly addicted to Skylanders, but I can’t see it being a substitute for the console version, nor can I see it standing toe to toe with other web based games. I’d count it more on-par with Club Penguin, and somewhere below WebKinz. But the character stat transfer is pretty damn cool.
Forget College! Skylanders Is Where It’s At!
If you have younger kids (10 or below) who like video games, are good at them, and like collectable monsters, then Skylanders will certainly be right up their alley. It’ll be hard to go near a retail outlet between now and the end of the year without huge displays pushing the figurines. Considering how Target, Wal Mart and Toys ‘R Us love to do exclusives around the holidays, I’m sure we’ll see more figures rolling out that will have you hitting all of the nightmare sales after Thanksgiving to find.
If you’re and older kid (which includes adults) and you’re enamored by the novelty, then you might get more of a kick out of simply collecting the sturdy, well made characters and the technology behind it all then you will from the gameplay. But if you have small children or siblings, then I think you could do much worse then to pick up this season’s must-have toy-slash-video game.
Shots from the official site, showing the console/PC version
Screenshots from the web game
If there’s one thing I enjoy, it’s gimmicks. Especially if those gimmicks are video game related. Extra especially if those gimmicks are video game and tech related. Want to make your product irresistible to me? Make it a video game with a hardware component that has both a physical component for a console and and online component, all using the same hardware. Basically, make it Skylanders.
I found out about this thanks to the universal suck that is TV. My daughter was watching something on Cartoon Network, and the commercial for Skylanders came on. At first, I wasn’t sure what it was. I thought it was some kind of hokey Chinese import like Zhu Zhu Pets or the Xia Xia Whateverthefuck new thing I saw the other day. Then I looked it up online (condensed here for your eyeball’s pleasure):
- It’s a hardware platform (literally).
- You place your plastic hero on the platform.
- Your hero shows up in the game, where you can adventure (and stuff).
- It’s available on Xbox, PS3, Wii and, somehow, DS. The only difference I can see is the software, so one connectable platform is potentially good for all platforms (DS notwithstanding)
- It’s made by Activision, so there’s that cash grab angle, but it seems to be a soup to nuts offering because…
- There’s a friggin’ Flash based version that allows you to connect the base to your computer to get your heroes into the online version!
- It’s a Spyro property, which I didn’t know until I hit the site for the first time.
This concept isn’t original, no. There have been other peripheral based online games in the past, but I’m hoping that Activision has enough muscle behind this to give it gas. So far, they’re really pimping this product. Toys ‘R Us, where I got my starter kit, had a massive wall of product including a demo station, and their website is currently wallpapered with it. They’re also running a decent deal right now: Purchase at least $100 worth of Skylander products between now and December 24th and they’ll send you a coupon to get a free figure. It’s not outrageous: the base Xbox pack was $69.99, which is $10.00 more then a standard new Xbox release (and you get 3 figures, the base, and the game). A single figure is $7.99. A pack of three characters or an expansion set is $19.99. If this is on someone’s holiday wishlist, then you can easily break that $100 barrier in one trip, although I did not.
I have yet to actually try the system, so this is all “still in the box” reporting. I did register for the website* and tried the Flash game briefly (I was at work at the time). It seems very, very slick, which gives me hope that Activision isn’t putting all of it’s cash into World of Warcraft or Call of Duty. The good thing about releasing it now, as opposed to sometime in the middle of next month, is that they can get it into people’s hands and get feedback that they can then turn into results for the holiday season and Giftcardimus that follows in February (because most stores are still short on stock in January).
I’ll report back tomorrow to let everyone know how the setup faired, and a basic rundown of what can be expected when you pop open that box.
* It seems that anyone can go to the site and register for the online game, and when they asked if I wanted to connect my base to detect my figures, or to enter a code, I said “skip it”, and they gave me a free Spyro to run around with. So if you’re curious or bored, go ahead and create an account.
It’s flu shot season up here in New England (and probably elsewhere as well). I usually get a flu shot because I’m a hypochondriac, the shots are free at work, and we get a lollipop (I won’t turn down free lollipops, even as a bribe for stabbing me with a needle). The flu goes around each and every year, almost like clockwork. In related news, this month’s latest popular game seems to be Glitch, a…uh…it’s like…the…game where you…do…stuff. Yeah, that pretty much describes it.
Actually, it’s been generally described as something that a lot of people – myself included – don’t “get”, as in understand. Really, there’s not much to understand…so long as you’re under the influence of a controlled substance. The backstory is that you’re a figment of imagination within the shared consciousness of a community of giants. You inhabit a semi-diverse landscape alongside spirits who act as vendors, plant life you can nurture and harvest, and animals you can molest (more on that later). I think that the comprehension disconnect stems from the fact that there’s no “goals” per se; it’s a social sandbox game, where the goals are the ones you set for yourself. While it’s actually most comparable to EVE Online, the presentation is different to the point where it initially overrides any recognition as such.
You can learn skills which are trained in real time (a la EVE Online) and which have many levels which impart different opportunities to act in the world. For example, you can – ahem – massage butterflies that you meet. This makes them receptive to your advances…to milk them. Normally you need (sigh) lotion to perform this massage, but with my Animal Kinship, level 5, I can assault these creatures without needing the lotion (and you get an achievement, “Happy Endings For All” for completing a massage-based mission).
You get missions from your guide, a stone….Wait. I need to lay out a PSA here:
This is not a kids game, despite the appearance. While I’m sure a lot of the jokes will go over a kid’s head, it’s best not to put these ideas into their heads in the first place. Back to the story…
…So yeah. A stone…get it? Complete with stoner vernacular. He tracks your skills, but also gives you occasional missions to do. These seem to be partly random, partly context sensitive. The interesting thing is that some missions require him to teleport you to different locations (the firefly mission was particularly amusing).
There’s also housing, material harvesting, and crafting of different sorts. I haven’t gotten far enough to craft, but I did have a low-level house. I sold it to save up for a better house.
So what’s the pull? “Exploration” amounts to wandering from street to street, region to region, and finding how to jump up on stuff to collect mood, XP and currant (currency) items. Aside from that, I don’t see where “exploration” comes into it, unless you’re talking about simply having visited as many streets as possible. Part of the charm, though, is the totally off-the-wall things you get to experience. Chicken squeezing, butterfly massaging, tree petting, stoner stones, yoga frogs, wacky missions (drink 12 beers. Yes, that’s a thing). I think it’s the potential to actually discover a new part of the game you didn’t know existed that’s driving me to play, now that I’ve made the comforting peace with what the game is. That is exploration to me, and why I will avoid the inevitable Glitch guides and wikis that I’m sure are springing up as I write this.
If you’re all about killing things, then Glitch won’t do anything for you because there’s no killing. If you’re into skilling up, working together, wandering around for achievements and XP, house buying and furnishing, and, of course, avatar dress-up, then Glitch will certainly appeal to you. It also runs in a browser, so you can play it on almost any system. It remains to be seen if it has staying power beyond the initial “whoo hoo!” phase, though.
Late last week we saw the massive rollout of the Games button for Google Plus. Considering how slow G generally ships it’s betas, it was pretty impressive that they got this one out to at least the majority of the user-base in one fell swoop.
There is currently only a handful of games on the service, and from what I’m skimming off the top of other’s conversations, they’re all ports from Facebook. Before the button appeared for good, though, it popped up and then mysteriously vanished, but not before a shockwave was sent through the community with everyone reporting that they had they button! The wacky thing was, once the button vanished, many people were vocal about wanting it back. Furthermore, it wasn’t a surprise that the games on tap wouldn’t be any different then those on FB, so we had a situation where people were waiting with baited breath for the content that many of them – myself included – had been down on when FB was the only game in town. What changed?
The first thing is how G+ handles the “spam” that these games generate. It’s on it’s own page, so you only see it once you enter the games ecosystem. All the requests have their own tab on the left (although there’s no waiting message indicator there), and the games are presented via a carousel at the top of the page. Simple! If you never want to see the spam in your stream, or if you have no interest in games on G+, you’ll never, ever see any of it. I haven’t heard anyone complain, only compliment to muted degrees, so it sounds like something people can live with.
The second thing is permanence. FB games might have appealed to me if I had actually spent more then 10 seconds on the service in a given week. I generally popped in, checked up on certain people, and then closed down. Contrast that to G+, which I have open every day, and which has become my de facto network. It seems to have taken on the same responsibility for many of the people I had found originally through Twitter, which means that there’s more activity that I participate in on a daily basis on G+ then I have in FB. Because of the *ahem* social nature of these games, and because I’m always on G+, the games have a greater gravity here then on FB. I can make requests of people, and they’ll see them…on their own schedules, and without feeling put out that I’m waving a pamphlet in their faces. It’s more a feeling of good will all around with G+ then it ever was with FB.
The downside is that the games still really aren’t that compelling. I’ve been trying Dragon Age Legends and Edgeworld, and I’m not totally sure I’d classify either as a “game” in a traditional sense*. Both are more like stop-watches, where you engage in some kind of assembly-line activity for a short amount of time (basically, glorified maintenance work), and then are told to take a mandatory coffee-break, measured in hours. It’s odd, because I often do, and see others, bemoan the fact that there’s not enough time in the day to play our games, yet these games force you to play in short bursts. I think the disconnect is that in “real” games, we’re following a thread of narrative, driven by action and adventure, in the hopes of reaching the climax of the story, while in these “social” games, we’re pulling levers as directed by a never-ending tutorial agent without a real sense of why.
I’d like to embed this video here to, you know, force you to sit here on my site while you watched, but for some reason I can’t get Livestream to actually embed in a post. So here’s the link for those who missed my late-night Tweet yesterday:
(And if you see the video below, great! If not…well, I’ll keep at it)
OK, I know a lot of people are playing and enjoying Empire Avenue, so don’t think this post is a reflection of how I feel about you. I love you all, so please, take this with a grain of salt…
Empire Avenue is the absolute stupidest experiment since Human Centipede. No, I’m not linking that. If you don’t know what it is, consider yourself lucky. Same with Human Centipede.
From a technical standpoint and as a card-carrying web developer, I have to say that I think the site design is well done, and the functionality is pretty great. In this – what are we in now? Web 11.0? – environment, EA is a shining example of something that’s easy to use, powerful, and gives a lot of feedback for people who giggle at the site of graphs, charts and leaderboards. And if you like the idea of exercising your investing acumen with little to no actual risk, well, this is right up your alley!
But man, the rank-and-file there, the hardcore user-base, are the exact people we work so hard to keep out of our inboxes, Tweet-streams and wall posts. 90% of the people I saw popping up as investors in my “unique brand” identified themselves as social media experts, and had those “are you falling down, reclining, or are you just noticing that the the camera is taking shots of your baldspot?” type of photos usually associated with shysters and *shudder* motivational speakers. I really wonder if people have a clip art library of themselves:
- With a sportscoat over their shoulder, head tilted, and smiling like they just OD’d on ether.
- Filled with the undesired galleys from their last Glamor Shots session, circa 1996
- With beer cans, bottles, or kegs (AKA Facebook)
The whole idea of buying and selling people should have gone out a long time ago. I know, this is just a game; no human trafficking is going down, but people are putting themselves on the auction block here for totally imaginary wealth. This is “gamification” taken to the ugliest extreme. I had someone threaten me…well, threaten in an EA sense…that I had 24 hours to buy his stock, or else his holdings in me would be swimming with the fishes.
All lame attempts at humor aside, I got real tired of this real quick. EA isn’t hardcore raiding or nullsec transport convoys. It’s a social/casual game played on a lunch break, but it happens to model one of the most ruthless, cutthroat sectors in the world – the stock market – and people are taking that to heart on top of shameless self-promotion in a field that’s rife with “social marketing experts”. It’s like rewarding the people we work so hard to avoid by giving them a place where they can hunt down the biggest movers and batter them with false platitudes by throwing imaginary money at them in the hopes they’ll reciprocate. EA is an ego-fest, but I guess it never attempted to claim that it wasn’t.
But maybe that’s the core of my disdain, even more so then EA being a haven for the bottom-feeders of social media. I’m a fan of this “social media” in it’s purest sense, if not in every implementation. Blogs, Twitter…hell, I’ll even give Facebook it’s due…are all useful and fun tools that often times get a bad rap from counter-culture hipsters or the ignorant who misuse them and then claim to not find any value. Seeing the multitude of cloying sycophants who invested in me in the hopes I’d return the favor aren’t just playing a game; they’re looking for some kind of validation. They’re playing a game that measures their self-worth by how much a stranger invests in them. To those who truly find it a fun and unique diversion, I am sorry; I do not direct this post at you. To Biff the Comb-over SEO expert and Kelly the Hairspray Diva who can Get Me More Followers If I Invest…get a dog. Their love is unconditional, and maybe they’ll hump your leg.