When Nokia first introduce Snake on their mobile phones, lots of people got hooked. As phones got smarter, the games evolve, people habits, have they changed?
I was just playing a little bit of a game called Star Trek Fleet Command started to talk to someone on there in a private message about game addiction. What amazes me is how much people are now invested in a slightly more complex game.
Five years ago a game came out called Star Wars Commander, this follows the same formula as other games like Clash of Clans. You build, create an army, attack other players and defend your base. There is a way to boost yourself forward in the game. All you have to do is spend real life money to acquire those packs to boost your standing.
This is real world money on a small video game on a mobile. It might seem innocent at first to say, spend £5 here for a pack, some players spend £10 a month for a pack. I asked one person, how many people spend money, they took a guess at 1 in 3 to 4 people will spend something.
Then you have the top end players, by the time I decided to quit player Star Wars Commander I knew a good number of usernames spending £1200 a month to stay at the top. That’s £24,000 a year, that’s more than what a lot of people work towards just to feed their family, pay the bills and survive. Not to mention the time needed to play these games, the biggest killer is time. Once you start playing in your free time, it will easily overlap into work time. Family time! Will you be at the dinner table with your family, out in a restaurant and try and sneak in that extra bit of game at the dinner table?
So I eventually quite Star Wars Commander and moved over to Star Wars Heroes, this was a different type of game, but in the end it had those “packs” you can buy, a ranking system, clans. And like the previous game, those players that wanted to stay on top, spending their money, building that gap between the rich and the poor! I didn’t hear it so much there, but I knew a few people that had spent a few £100 on the game. But it was all time consuming again.
I managed to quite gaming on my mobile for at least six months. But by Christmas 2018 I had a bit more free time and this time a new game had come out, Star Trek Fleet Command.
To start with, this felt different, you had missions to do, galaxies to explore, by the time I got into the game a bit more, I found out about the clans, but here they called it “Alliances”! After a while you get to a certain point where in order to progress you need certain materials, where you need to mine on these rocks.
When you realised in order to progress you need to do a lot of mining to get the materials to build all the upgrades… I got up to a point where I managed to quite the game for a whole month. But I ended up returning to what I call Star Trek Farmville!
The same flavour is here also, the top players I have spoken to, had my base raided by them, had a mining node, (floating rock in space!) taken off me by these players. They too are spending a lot of money, one player a woman from Germany has spent over £17,000 on the game just to be on top of everyone else, others have spent a few thousand, one member of the alliance I am in is spending £100 a month on the game.
Like life, there seems to be a balance of the wealthy people, those that spend the money on top, the elite of this social society, then you have those that are time rich, these are the players in the middle, then you have those that don’t spend any money in the game and are time poor.
But if you turn this on its head, those who are time poor and don’t spend the money on a mobile game have the most to gain from real life. They are the people we should all be emulating.
Getting to go out and socialise with people face to face instead of this digital construct that has appeared in our hands over the last ten years. This new world gaming culture has diminished wallets, our time and is taking what we hold dear. And these companies that make these games, they are the digital vampires bleeding us dry. It’s time for people to make a stand against their weaknesses and turn those into their strengths.