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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Going Cold Turkey - Facebook Gamers...DIVIDE!

This week's Thursday Diary entry is going to be one that may appear to be on the most superficial topics that I could ever think of...but when you begin to read on, it will begin to make some sense. It's a blog entry that is one-third frustration, one-third disappointment, and one-third realization.

Confused? Don't be. It's all explained on the inside.

July 25, 2013

As far back as I can remember, I have always been attracted to electronic games.

I still have memories of being sick with the flu when I was a little boy, and passing the time by playing on my sister's retro Merlin toy from the late 1970s. Although the only thing that it really ever did was play music and tic-tac-toe, it was still a toy that I loved...well, until the batteries finally died out and the mechanisms that controlled the Merlin finally broke down for good.

But I think playing that Merlin kind of fueled my love for electronic games. And, I'm sorry to say that in a lot of cases, my love for electronic games went out of control when I was a teenager.

Let's face it. When you combine a love for video games with a rather introverted personality – which I admittedly have – they can take over all of your free time.

It wasn't uncommon for me to sit down in front of my Super Nintendo and play Super Mario World straight through for a few hours, trying to find all ninety-six secrets scattered throughout the game. It wasn't uncommon for me to don my pretend swords and armor to slay dozens of soldiers, monsters, and magical beasts in the Final Fantasy series. And, don't even get me started on how many hours I wasted playing Chrono Trigger. Needless to say, I don't even want to think of how many hours I wasted playing video games because I would likely drop dead of shock.

But, such was the life of an introverted teen, I suppose.

The funny thing is that when I was maturing from my teenage years and into my twenties, I kind of lost interest in gaming for a while. Mind you, I do currently own a Nintendo 3DS and have several games for it, but I only play it once or twice a week as opposed to three or four hours per day. Part of the reason for that is my job. Working full-time hours certainly doesn't leave a whole lot of time to play video games, and I find that on days in which I do work an eight hour shift, I am just too tired to concentrate on a video game.

But lately I have found that my obsession towards video games has taken on a new development, and lately I find that I am now wasting time playing games that are not only less sophisticated than a Nintendo game, but also more mindless.

And I'm sure that any of you who are a member of a social media site know exactly what I am talking about.

Social media games.

When I first began venturing onto social media sites six years ago, I saw quite a few people playing video games on places like Facebook and Twitter. Back in 2007, there were very limited options available. I think some of the earliest Facebook games that I can remember seeing around the time I joined were Farmville, Mafia Wars, and Parking Wars. And while I admit to playing at least two of these games, I tended to lose interest rather quickly.

Over the next few years, other games have come and gone, and sometimes I got into them and sometimes I didn't. I admit to playing the CSI game for a couple of months, but lost interest after I got fed up with waiting so long to proceed in the game. I played another game that was fun for all of two minutes, but kept getting at least 150 game requests from my “friends” as a result of trying that game out for all of two minutes.

Which prompted me to seek out a Facebook game which allowed you to kick your friends across a field so I could get “revenge” against those who kept sending me game requests which were unsolicited!

But other than that, I took pride in telling myself that I could break the habit of getting suckered into Facebook games and that I wasn't nearly as much of an addict as I initially believed.

Well, that was until 2012, in which I started playing two more Facebook games...and bought into the hype – hook, line, and sinker.

Fortunately, I just recently kicked the habit regarding one Facebook game. For six months, I played the game “Criminal Case” daily. And, I'm kind of ashamed to admit that, because I can't believe that I played any Facebook game for that long. But, I guess in order for us to break a habit, we have to be the one to admit that we have a problem.

My name is Matthew, and I am a recovering “Criminal Case” addict.

I couldn't help it at first. I love a good murder mystery. It's why I actively seek out video games that feature one, and why the Ace Attorney video game series for the Nintendo DS was so much fun. When I discovered that “Criminal Case” had crimes that one could solve each day (with new cases being added every week), I figured that I could have a lot of fun with it.

And it was fun the first few months.

The way “Criminal Case” worked was like a hidden object game. You would look for clues inside of a scene, and then you would take those clues and examine them for information on who killed the victim. You could dust for prints, examine hair and skin fragments, and interview suspects to get closer to the truth. The real kicker was that you had to play crime scenes in order to earn enough stars to conduct your investigation. That could take time. And, each time you played a crime scene, you depleted your “energy”, which could take forever to fill up.

In fact, I think that's where I kind of lost interest in “Criminal Case”. The early cases were such that you could speed through them in a day or two. But as you played through the game, the cases got longer, more complex, and took up way too much time to get through them. And, on the last case that I solved, realizing that it took me a whole week to play through one case, it got to the point where it was not worth the wait anymore.

But that was just one reason why I gave up “Criminal Case” cold turkey.

Another reason why I gave up playing the game was because I wasn't finding it as much fun anymore. And that was partially due to the fact that I was getting bored with it. After all, every case was exactly the same and was exactly the same format. I lost interest in the gameplay a lot later than I thought I would, but eventually that day came last week, and I haven't looked back.

But the main factor behind why I lost interest in the game was the sheer amount of people who were on my friends list solely to get the freebies that one could earn while playing the game. Not that I really have an issue with helping people out in their games.

What I did have an issue with was when people would take the freebies that I had posted onto my wall and posted them on the walls of other Facebook friends on their lists so that they could get in on the deals WITHOUT asking my permission. Nor do I appreciate having those friends randomly adding me onto their friends list just so they could get free stuff for their own “Criminal Case” games. And, to most of my friends credit, a lot of them were very respectful in that regard. Unfortunately, there were a couple who took advantage of that in a big way, and that was enough for me to say that I had enough. When I start getting friend requests from people I don't even know, and when people start hijacking my posts on my wall because a friend on my wall lead them to it, I don't just rubs me the wrong way.

I mean, I know that in the grand scheme of things, I'm complaining about a computer game. And, yes, there are way more important things to vent about. But as I have mentioned before in this blog, I take friendship quite seriously. Perhaps I take it even more seriously than other people have done. But that's the way I am and have always been, and I don't know if I can or even want to change that about myself. I don't really like having to deal with people in day-to-day life who use me, or who are only nice to me when they want something from me...and then once I give it to them, they go right back to ignoring me, or making fun of me. I've had to deal with that too much in my real life, and I decided that I didn't want to deal with that in a computer game either.

So, I dropped “Criminal Case” from my life. And, I think it was a wise decision, because not only do I free myself from a time-wasting game (which allows me more time to spend on my first love – writing), but I also freed myself of the people who were only on the game just for what I could give them. And, needless to say, the ones who were most guilty of this are no longer considered friends.

But you know, that's why I enjoy doing a Thursday Diary so much. I can write about what is bothering me, and once I do, I feel much better for it. Mind you, the tradeoff is that most of you reading this probably consider me a computer nerd who got “pwned” by gamers who were more hard core than I...but if that's the worst thing that is said about me, I can deal. I have a thick skin after all.

Now...if I can only break my addiction to “Candy Crush”...

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