Wednesday, May 16, 2012


OK, I was originally planning on writing about this last month, but other things came to mind more readily, so I put it off until this month.

Let's talk about Facebook games. Now, I used to play several Facebook games, especially after I was laid off from my job at the newspaper. There were slot machine games, superhero games... most recently, I was playing Indiana Jones Adventure World, and was actually one of the top ten players.

Notice I said "was." Because I'm not anymore. I quit playing games on Facebook for good in February.

And why was this? Well, a lot of the games were fun, and they were "free" (even though they all offered to give me something to help with the game if I paid them money, such as energy to do more things in a game. And I didn't mind it, so long as I didn't HAVE to pay the money in order to play the game. But I swore, if I ever hit a point where I had to pay money in order to meet a goal, I'd quit.

Some of the games, I stopped playing because there were no more challenges left in them. There was a superheroes game where I'd basically done everything I could do, and all that was left was just fighting the same people over and over again.

Then there were some games where the challenges got to be ridiculous -- Like not being able to accomplish a single goal for weeks on end (this happens a lot with the slot machine-style games, where you have to get certain combinations of symbols in order to fill out a card, which once filled gets you to the next level). A good game should have goals that can be met in a reasonable period of time. When some of the games I was playing hit these, I finally got bored and quit them.

Some of the adventure-style games would have missions that you could play through, and if you played them enough times, you'd master them. Now, I have no problem with that concept -- but when the game designers change the game, or add things to the game where you have to go back to a mission you'd already mastered and play through it yet again to get some item you need, that starts to get ridiculous.

But what irks me even more than that is when the game gets so dependent on asking "neighbors" (i.e. friends of yours who play the same game on Facebook) for things you need that you spend more time sending off requests, sending "gifts" to neighbors, and accepting gifts than you do actually paying the game itself! And that gets tedious and frustrating.

It's especially frustrating when the game gets set up so that in the beginning, you have to do things that generate "income" in order to buy things, but then you find out that not only is there a limit to how much "money" you can have, you find out that in order to get the next upgrade on a piece of equipment, you can't just plain buy it with this useless "money", you have to ask your neighbors for stuff so you can get it!

And it gets even worse -- the people at Zygna, who do the Indiana Jones game, decided to make it so that one item you needed to build required translated runes, which you would either find while you adventure, or you could ask for them from your neighbors. Once you got them from your neighbors, you could then translate them, and hope that out of the six runes, it was the one or two runes you needed. And this item needed to be upgraded to a certain level so it would give me something I needed to finish an adventure.

This would be an adventure where I just needed that one item to finish the adventure, and there's a time limit to how long it can take me. There was no way I was going to be able to get the right runes in time to upgrade this thing and get the key I needed before time ran out on the adventure -- which I could either spend real money on in order to add extra time, or do the whole damn thing over again.

Now, while all this was going on, there kept getting to be more and more pop-up screens within the game coming up that I had to click through before I could get to the game itself -- which would sometimes freeze up my browser, requiring me to force quit and restart it.

About this time, I realized that it was these stupid Facebook games, with the greater and greater time-sink requirement, that was getting in the way of doing Random Acts of Geekery, so I quit them all.

I can't be the only person who's ever got to this point and quit... but unfortunately, there are probably lots of players out there who are going ahead and spending money on these games -- lots and lots of money!

If I'm going to spend money for a game, it's going to be a game I can play on my iPhone or iPad (like Angry Birds, a bargain for 99 cents!) or a game I can play on my iMac -- and it's not going to require me to ask other people for stuff constantly.

Do yourself a favor if you play games on Facebook. Keep track of how much time you spend each day playing these games. If you feel like you still have time to do things you enjoy every day, it's probably not a problem. But if you're thinking you have to give up things you enjoy doing because you don't have time for them, it could be these stupid Facebook games getting in the way. Just check it out, for your own sake!

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