Welcome to ElChino-ville! A Den of Villany And Scum…

Information and numbers passed through El Chino’s office all the time.  A whole network of agents of the ******** and the Bureau of ******* ensured that the proper pieces of information got to where it needed to be.  What the enemies of the Imperium were doing, whether or not there was sufficient food in the lowlands, which officials were succumbing to corruption; El Chino would know it all.  He would handle them personally, as well.

Yet, this small, practically insignificant note passing through gripped El Chino’s attention.

Of course, he should have been handling official business, but these things could wait.  Besides, he did hire a council of distinguished Brothers and Sisters to run the country.  What use would they be if he couldn’t take 5 minutes to check out a website?  Of course, on Youtube, 5 minutes could very well be 50 minutes.  Checking someone’s post on Facebook inevitably leads to someone else’s profile and pictures of what they did with their dog last weekend.

Still, to ensure that his own people would not get trapped in the pitfalls of the internet, El Chino would need to investigate this himself and to fight it for his people!

Long ago, I swore that I wouldn’t get on the Facebook bandwagon.

…I caved in sometime in the summer of 2008.

I then swore that I would not get involved in any of those Farmville/Mafia type Facebook games.

…I caved in earlier this month.

Wow, can we say, weak?

D'oh!

To be honest, I’m slightly embarrassed that I succumbed.  It’s not the fact that I am playing another game: it’s the fact that it’s a Facebook game.  I’m not a hardcore gamer and I tend to avoid consoles (PC is the best! ;)), but I feel disgusted by the social network games (SNGs) you can find on social networking sites (duh!), like Facebook and MySpace.  I’ve played similar games and absolutely loved them, but these SNGs are crap.  I would hesitate to even classify them as a flash game.  On top of that, they hide a seedy dark side which riles me up; once you dip into them, you feel the need for a cold shower and penitence.

Most games strive to bring fun and enjoyment to those who play it; whether it be a good story line, novel gameplay or even just being visually breath-taking.  However it tickles your fancy, as the player/user, you should enjoy that experience.  However, the goal of these SNGs are not to provide enjoyment to the player base.  In fact, they exist solely to screw you over and exploit you to make money for their overlords.  Yes, I know that all companies re looking out for their bottom line, but most of them strive to produce a fulfilling product; Valve and Blizzard are known for pushing release dates to ensure they deliver a product they are proud to call their own.  Furthermore, consumers are more inclined to buy in if game companies invest in their product; resulting in non-SNGs with visibly higher production quality.  Gamers know from experience what to expect in a game in terms of gameplay and graphics.  Thus, half-assed, buggy games flop consistently.  But SNGs seem to be able to avoidproviding a storyline, novel gameplay or even decent graphics, but are succeeding and thriving (like cockroaches).  WTF!

At least with Bible Adventures, there was a purpose to you collecting animals.

What.  The.  Fracking hell, you say?  Yes, these SNGs are growing, sustained by the lives and poor souls of the casual gamer and children.  Main targets within these classes: casual gamers, with a credit card, and children, easily tricked into getting mummy or daddy’s credit card.  These unwitting saps are fooled and forced into bondage with these deathtrap games of lower production standards, because for the most part, they don’t know any better or don’t have access to real games.  With absolutely no storyline, no goal, no end-game or end-game content, horrible graphics, following used/copied game mechanics; these “games” are complete garbage.  However, for many, SNGs are the first computer games they’ve played that aren’t Solitaire or Minesweeper.

Look at Farmville: 2D,ugly, sprites from who-knows-when.  Did you even bother hanging around to look at it?  My eyes can barely handle this affront to “game graphics”.  Bloody sugar coated, “cute” big-headed avatars and “cute” cut-and-paste animals.  To be fair, I love flash games and while they’re they’re not known for their graphics, you can still find some excellent games.  These unfortunate casual gamers and kids will fire right back me, “yeah, it’s a flash game, it won’t look as a good as something on a Source or Unreal Engine, but it’s fun!’.

As in the words of my supervisor,

‘whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!’.  Did you say fun?

Hint, Eeyore plays SNGs.

Not only are these games visually appalling, they are the dead-end streets of fun.  How the bloody hell is it fun when these “games” slow you down on purpose and demand ‘responsibility and routine’ (Liszkiewicz, 2010)?  Your fun invovles clicking away for a few hours.  Every few hours.  Every day.  There’s no thinking involved, just click to collect.  You’re not solving puzzles, or maneuvering your avatar to victory, just simply clicking to collect things and maybe water a plot of virtual land.  Is there much fun in watering and collecting virtual fruits?  You, the casual gamer, tries to reason with oneself; one can level up, build up a huge stockpile of crops, build up a bigger town, get new items, get new structures and finally get a bigger farm perhaps.  Then, duh duh duh!  Days and hours later, you are now level 4, and can buy, depending on the game, a chicken/sword/fishing rod!  You are an improved casual gamer, you sly son of a gun!  But wait, in order to get enough gold to buy it, you’ll need to work for another week!  This is where kicker comes in, why SNGs target casual gamers; in order to progress/continue at a decent rate, you have to pay them.

Look, it's Mark Pincus!

At this point, we then hear about stories of people wasting large sums of money.  Ginormous amounts, that their parents don’t know about.  So probably the biggest problem with SNGs is how they are monetized.  If you want to “succeed” in SNGs, then you need to be constantly taking care of your farm and injecting real money into it.  Otherwise you will take months to do anything.  Some people will realize that a game this labour intensive or one that requires money to effectively play is not worth it; however, judging by the bulging purses of SNG companies, many users do not take that hint.  They are simply addicted.  (Liszkiewicz’s article, is a great read as he does a better job than I’ve done at explaining everything.  If you’re still reading at this point, go read his article!!).  Opposite of this, when we deal with children (who don’t steal their parent’s credit cards), we have “free offers“.  These things are just as bad as paying for virtual crops; you are obliged to sign up for a trial service or download a toolbar or an “internet speed speed-uper”.  Whatever way they spin it, if it looks like a scam, smells like a scam, it probably is a scam.  Hell, even legitimate companies are getting scammed by these thrice-cursed devils!  In the past few sentences, if you haven’t gotten the clue yet, those “free offers” are SCAMS!

He doesn't want SNGs. Neither do I

Furthermore, to add insult to injury, SNGs attempt to get you to rope your family and friends into their grimy claws.  To fuel their dark empire, they give incentives for users to recruit friends.  While you may revel with your new purple cat, you unwittingly expose your own brothers and sisters to scams and the greedy fingers of SNG companies.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving!  (See that?  I compared SNGs to STIs!).  As a result, I have completely blocked a few people and apps on Facebook due to the barrage of “Please come play this game with me!” requests I received a while back.  To distinguish themselves from other games, SNGs have taken on the approach of making their games a “social” thing.  So, after you dupe a few of your friends on the behalf of the SNGs, you can compete with them…by taking care of their farms as well as yours!  Double the amount of clicking, for no pleasure at all!

Originally, I had started writing this post to talk about the game I joined up, CivWorld.  I am a HUGE of the Civilization series, and Sid Meier’s work (come on Alpha Centauri!) and I also do freely admit I have had 12+ hour CivSSess (sessions).  So when I heard that it was making the jump to Facebook, I was curious.  Sid wouldn’t lend his name so a bad game, so why not?  I was sorely disappointed.  I began writing about the pros and cons of CivWorld, when I came to realize, there were no pros!  All of the pros already existed on another platform…Civilization itself!  I was shocked to learn that everything Farmville was, CivWorld adopted.  Why Sid? Oh, why?!

So, the presses were stopped as I did a bit more digging.  Lo and behold, the wrappings fell from my eyes and I truly understood why SNGs, including CivWorld, deserve to be gutted.  Hang and quartered.  Tarred and feathered.  Waterboarded.  The whole works.

So, as you can see from my super long rant above, I can no longer, in good faith recommend anyone to start playing CivWorld.  As of today, ELChinoville no longer exists.  The lands have been salted and its inhabitants scattered.  Never to return.

At this time, SNGs are still booming.  They continue to run, monetize  and produce lame games.  Meanwhile, scams and bloatware ride hand in hand with their vile brethren.  Yet, it’s good that people are beginning to take notice.  The internet is relatively young, and brought both good and bad.  Afflictions new to our world today include addiction to games, addiction to porn, hacking attacks on governments, people, business, and even addiction to the internet itself.  Granted, solving the issue of SNG rapists or censoring the net won’t solve all our problems, nor is it the biggest, *cough, cough* global warming, war, famine,debt crisis *cough, cough*, it’s not as if SNG companies went around shoving people to their computers with guns at their heads.  What I think is important is that average bear needs to be a bit more educated.  Average bear, who votes in people like this jackass need to wake up and be more informed.  At least read some Atwood.

Stay strong, brothers and sisters.

El Chino

/end rant

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