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.