Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wednesday's Words for January 27, 2010

I suppose it was inevitable, and it finally happened. I have finally been lured over to the dark side.

And I would lay the blame at the feet of my daughter, but I’m an adult, and I assume responsibility for my own actions.

It began just two weeks ago yesterday. There I was, minding my own business, fingers on the keyboard, butt in the chair, working fastidiously away at my current work-in-progress. I heard her car drive up. When she came in I said, “Well hello. How are you?”

She replied, “Just give me a sec. I have to get my dishes off the stove.”

Now, I knew my kitchen was spotless, nary a dish on the stove, let alone any of her dishes. I thought she would reach for the phone, call someone at her place. But no, she went right over to her father’s computer and logged on.

I asked her to repeat what she’d said, thinking perhaps, what with middle age being the way it is, I might not have heard her correctly.

But she said those words again.

Little did I know those words would pull me into a world of virtually feeding…virtual people.

There are numerous “applications” on that social networking behemoth, Face Book. You can own a farm, or a zoo. You can go to petville or fishville, indulge in mafia wars or vampire wars.

Or you can own your own café in café world.

There are at least 64 levels of achievement in this game that allow you to select dishes, “pay” coins to buy them, then cook them, then sell them for, of course, more coins than you paid to buy them.

It’s free, but there is a catch (isn’t there always a catch?). After you get playing, and get to see other people’s cafés, how big and nice they look, and become competitive—or some might say addicted—you discover that you can buy nicer furnishings for your café by using your credit card to acquire “café cash” (as opposed to the café coins you get for free).

Is that not an ingenious example of the American entrepreneurial spirit? And it’s not the only one I’ve seen.

Club Pogo, somehow connected to AOL, charges a membership too, the benefit of paid club membership over the free is access to “exclusive” games, and the opportunity to win “badges” and to spend even more real money to buy “gems” that allow you to buy clothes and pets and backgrounds for your “mini” (a graphic that represents you).

Hello? Can we just think about this for a moment? They charge you real money to allow you to buy things that don’t really exist.

If you think of it all as entertainment, and if you have a budget for same, and it fits in your budget, I guess it’s ok. I do belong to Club Pogo (Morgan hangs her head in shame), but I certainly will not be investing real cash into a make-believe café.

There are how many thousands of people playing World Of Warcraft (best known by its acronym, WOW)? It costs about twenty dollars a month to do so. I know a few people who play WOW, and I can tell you the game all but takes over every second of their spare time, and nearly every bit of their social life, too. I hear people talking and I realize their entire conversation revolves around that game, and they act as if it’s real.

What happened to real life, real people, real relationships?

In the mean time, I must confess despite my knowing better, I have indulged more than I should time-wise, in the virtual café business. Two weeks, and I have already achieved level 27. It’s pretty bad when you decide whether or not you can sleep late based on what’s cooking on your virtual stove (if you don’t get the food off in time, it rots and draws flies.).

Just do me a favor, please. If you ever see me traversing the realms of WOW…give me a smack upside the head.

Feed the flames of your passion…with a novel by Morgan Ashbury

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