Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Funny Money

I think if they had support groups for spending too much money on stupid Internet games like Candy Crush I would have to enroll.  It's obscene how much money I've wasted on that stupid game through Facebook to buy the stupid little power ups to beat a level.  I swear it must be a couple hundred dollars in the last few months between that, Angry Birds Star Wars, and Deer Hunter 2014.

The thing is you hardly even notice the money at the time.  It bleeds you slow, a dollar here or two dollars here, kind of like gambling really.  It's worse because you're not even going to win the money back, so it's just a complete waste of money.  But hey, I can quit any time, right?  Yeah, probably.

The thing is, those games are designed to continually generate cash for their designers.  Like a drug dealer they might let you download the first levels for free, but then they'll start making you pay for the added levels.  And they'll make the levels so annoying you spend money on the power-ups to beat them.  And they only give you a small number of lives that recharge slowly to bilk you out of more money to keep playing.  It's a total fucking scam.

Some people would oversimplify and say, "Well they're not making you spend money."  Neither do casinos.  But especially when you're playing these games on Facebook there's that pressure to get as far as your "friends" or get a higher score and so forth.  And you get to that point where you only need one move to beat the level and it's almost midnight and you've tried it 15 times already, so what's $1.99 to end the hassle and go to bed a winner, right?

It reminds me of a report I wrote for one of my business classes in high school back in 1995 or so.  It was about digital currency and one of the potential problems I noted is that when the money is digital it doesn't really FEEL like you're spending money.  It's not like reaching into your pocket and taking a dollar out of your wallet, where you can then see how many more you got left.  Thus there's no real weight to it.

Playing those games on Facebook or my Kindle Fire, I think my fear has come to pass.  Because as I said, it doesn't feel like I'm spending actual money.  Then I open my bank statement and holy shit!  How did I spend $30 in three fucking days!!!?

I'm not going to single out Candy Crush and other games.  It's really digital commerce in general.  I can't even begin to contemplate just how much I've spent on Amazon in the last 13 years or so.  It has to be well into the thousands or perhaps 10 thousands.  It's a book here, an album there, a graphic novel there, and so forth.  The financial death by a thousand cuts.  But hey it goes on my credit cards so it's not REAL money, is it?  Aye, there's the rub.

I imagine the problem is only going to get worse.  I haven't looked into Bitcoins, but that and other such things are the next step in fully digital currency.  I think recently in Europe some country declared Bitcoins aren't real currency, but it's only a matter of time before it happens.  That will make fiscal responsibility even tougher.  Another decade or so and even the bums will probably be sitting there with signs saying, "Will Work for Bitcoins."

In the meantime, maybe I should get a sponsor to help me get through Candy Crush withdrawal. 

7 comments:

  1. You're absolutely right about digital money. About 10 years ago, Sweetie and I were intent on getting our budget under control. We switched to trying to spend cash whereever we could; if you have to take cash out of your wallet to spend it, the psychology is different.

    As I mentioned in another comment the other day, I'm in no way the typical consumer, I think. The availability of so much free stuff spoils me. This year I have spent $50 or so on books, but I only spent that because I got $50 worth of Amazon gift cards for Xmas, so I finally splurged and bought myself two get-well books after my sinus surgery.

    I get most of my books from the library (there's a program called "Overdrive" that works on Kindle and may include your library) and read them. I haven't paid for a game since "Plants Vs. Zombies," which was a couple bucks and seemed reasonable. I never use those power-ups mostly because I'm not that into gaming.

    But I can sympathize; I blow money elsewhere. So I put a limit on what I can spend by only having so much on my card at a time. You should try that; it puts the willpower a step away. If you use only one card for gaming, say a debit card, and limit it to $5, with no overdraft available, you might avoid splurging when you don't want to. That way, you're exercising the willpower when you aren't playing the game and can be overcome. That's the same trick I used to lose 100 pounds once: I just didn't buy junk food so I didn't have to have the temptation at home.

    (Now, I can't even muster the willpower to do that and sometimes have cookies in the middle of the night, as my weight loss has stalled at 230.)

    I have to say, though: Candy Crush? Angry Birds? Those are some sucky games. I didn't like either of them, although Sweetie and Mr Bunches like Angry Birds.

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  2. LOL! And I'm reminded why I stay away from online gaming. ;) Actually, I pretty much stay away from all gaming...but not intentionally. No time. *sigh* So while I can't sympathize with your spending frenzy, I am slightly jealous of your free time to indulge. Would you mind loaning me some? ;)

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  3. I don't know enough about Bitcoin to trust it. Ignorance breeds fear, right? I think if anything, the makers of Bitcoin have not done enough to educate the public about the alternate currency. Until that happens, then it will have low acceptance.

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  4. I've been so tempted to pay for Candy Crush, but I've resisted so far. That's why I'm stuck on level 28. Bitcoins is going away since so many child molesters and drug dealers started using it.

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  5. Everything's going to micro purchases. All the new MMOs are coming out free-to-play (FTP), but there are tons of micro purchase things you can do, some just to customize your stuff, some to give you bonuses in the game. People spend a lot more than just a $15/month subscription fee that way. Sims has done the same thing. Of course, I haven't played anything since well before that switch occurred, not even the things I've wanted to play.

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  6. Oh! And there was a thing recently about how bitcoins will now be taxed because of the fluctuating value of them. I don't think they're going away. The same article was talking about how much they are currently growing is usage, hence the taxation.

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  7. I'm pretty stubborn when it comes to spending money online...so I've spent about $30 all on Candy Crush. I figure once in awhile it's okay to pay because for the most part I am playing the game for free, and someone has to support that game with servers, programmers, etc. I like playing Candy Crush because it just helps me unwind at the end of the day. It's something fun to do and it doesn't take up much time. I haven't spent any money on the other games. Some are okay, but just don't interest me as much as Candy Crush. There were a few levels I was stuck on for months. I don't care if I run out of lives (I've never bought those) I just do something else and come back later.

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