I’ve been spending too much of my life over at MySpace recently. I signed up a few months ago so I could send a message to Zombina and the Skeletones, but that was all I did. Recently I was hanging with That Girl and her sister, and TGS paused to check how things were going in an online game called Heroes. It turns out that an important part of the game is getting other folks to join your bunch, so a few days later I joined in — just to help her out, of course.
I spent too much of my life getting to know the game, then another too much of my life playing the game. It also turns out that there are several other games on MySpace — or should I say several iterations of the game with different graphics. Mobsters seems to be the most popular, but there are also space, pirate, and vampire iterations with only minor differences. In all of the games it is beneficial to build up a whole boatload of friends (up to 500). Somewhere word got out that I would accept invitations to be anybody’s buddy in any game. I am a game friend slut, and now I appear to be very popular on MySpace. I have started down the slippery slope from slut to whore; I have now posted my name in a couple of places where people go to find friends for these games. [Since I wrote that a couple of days ago, my transition is complete. I now actively approach people who say they are interested.]
So what are these games that are eating my brain? In truth, they’re really not that great. Activities fall into three categories: invest in real estate to build wealth, gather members in your group, and buy stuff so your guys can beat up other guys and take some of their money.
There’s really no goal to the games, except get more money to buy more stuff to get more power so you can beat up more people. (Even the beating up happens off-camera.) Why am I still playing? I don’t know. But when I wake up in the morning the first thing I do is check to see if anyone else attacked me while I slept and stole some of my money. I calculate how long it will take at my current income level to be able to afford a particular piece of property. I have, as mentioned above, gradually become more active in adding other people into my bunch. Once they are added they are little more than a number – no further interaction is required (although some players do try to build a group cohesion).
Once things are under control in Heroes, I make the rounds of all the other clones, making sure I keep my promises to join other people’s bunches. I don’t actually do anything in those other games except occasionally reinvest real estate income.
So far that’s not a big slice out of my life, but then, then I have to check back periodically to see how things are going. Every time I review my real estate investments and strategy going forward, even though that strategy only hits important events every couple of days (and I have calculated when that time will be). Every time I go over all the gear I have for my bunch to use in battle, even though my needs in that area don’t change very often either. Every time I wind up poking around for someone to attack who might cough up a lot of money, then I decide not to bother. Every time I check for messages to see if someone in my group is asking for help kicking someone’s butt for whatever reason.
None of that takes a lot of time, and in fact my total time on the game is probably not that bad. The problem is that I do it often, and any momentum I might have had on other tasks is irretrievably lost, so I can play what amounts to an accounting game. I’ve got to get this game out of my head.
On a related note I plan to put a strategy guide to the various games up on my MySpace page, once I run some spreadsheet simulations of different stgrategies. And of course if you want to join my bunch, guild, mob, crew, family, or band (depending on the game) you are welcome to add me as a friend – http://myspace.com/?writerjer – and invite me in. I’ll join anything.
Edited to add: I now have an investment spreadsheet that people can download at Jer’s Software Hut, designed to answer the qustion whether it’s better to by one of a property or a batch of ten, depending on your circumstances.