Addicted to Mobsters
I never thought it would happen to me. I've heard people at work discussing World of Warcraft and Everquest, but I never felt inclined to try them for myself. I've played Halo and Guitar Hero each once just so I wouldn't feel completely out of touch with the rest of the world, but I never felt the desire to try them again. I was into SimCity back in the day, but it was a phase that passed rather quickly. With such a long history of video game avoidance, how is that I find myself suddenly addicted to the MySpace game Mobsters?
For those of you who still have lives that don't revolve around it, Mobsters is an online game where you pretend to be a mobster, doing missions, fighting other mobsters and making as much money as you can, while trying to entice your family and friends (as well as complete strangers) to join your mob so it becomes more powerful. You rise in level based on experience points while accumulating properties which make you money, and accumulating equipment which makes it harder for other mobsters to attack you. The completely baffling thing is that while you can spend hours at a time playing Mobsters, you don't actually do anything. You "fight" other mobsters by clicking on a button that says "fight" and then waiting for the outcome. You don't actually fight anyone. You complete "missions" by clicking on a button that says "complete mission" and then waiting for the outcome. You don't actually play anything. Despite this, I can't go more than an hour or two without signing on to MySpace to see how my mobster is doing. Even writing about it I feel the need to make sure nobody is stealing my hard earned mobster money. I will fight this urge though.
It all started out innocently enough. A friend started playing Mobsters and sent me an invitation to join their mob. I was having a bout of writer's block so I thought I'd waste a couple minutes checking it out. A couple hours later I had already risen several levels and was sending out invitations to all of my friends to join my mob. Several of them, including my fiancé, quickly became addicted. My fiancé and I rarely see each other anymore because she sits on the computer upstairs playing mobsters while I camp out on the computer downstairs. Sad. Most of my friends resisted the invitation though, which left me with a very small mob that was constantly getting attacked by larger mobs. What was I to do?
The moment that my Mobster addiction took on a scary new life was when I went to a website devoted entirely to adding other MySpace members just so you can increase your mob size. That's right, this game has gotten so out of control that there are websites set up just so you can add people who play the game. I was so desperate to increase my mob size that I invited everyone I could. I didn't bother to check out their MySpace pages to make sure I wasn't inviting the next Charles Manson or Ed Gein to be my friend. If they were like me and addicted to this game they were probably good people. My MySpace page went from being a collection of friends and family, including ones I hadn't spoken to in years and probably never would have again had it not been for the wonderful networking abilities of this site, to being a collection of complete strangers whose presence would increase my chance of a positive outcome anytime I clicked the "fight" button on Mobsters. As far as I know all of my real friends are still there, but it's getting increasingly harder and harder to tell as more and more people are added simply to aid in my addiction.
We can delve into the psychological reasons why we love mafia entertainment so much (Goodfellas and The Godfather are two of my favorite movies), but I never passed Psychology 101 in college so we won't. Maybe it has something to do with greed and the thrill of accumulating wealth even if it is only pretend wealth. Monopoly anyone? Maybe it's a blood lust thing. For me the biggest thrill came when I clicked on the "hit list" button and whacked my first fellow mobster. It was quite a rush. Maybe it has something to do with connecting with complete strangers online to play and pretend to be bad. I just don't know. All I do know is that if anyone wants to join my mob I'm still not up to 500 members yet, and I could really use you. Oh my God, somebody stop me!
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