HOW ZYNGA MADE ME AN ADDICT
How it all Began
I joined Face-book somewhere around May 2009 due to a suggestion that it would help my business. At first I had no idea what it was all about. It seemed like you needed "friends" and I had no idea how to get them. As I now know, just about everyone I knew probably was a member but to me it was an unknown frontier. I just ignored it for awhile, but then over the Summer my sister found me. I finally had a friend, and soon my family became my friends on facebook.
Gradually I grew my friends to a dozen or so including one who was an avid player of Mafia Wars. My first reaction to the Mafia Wars posts was that they seemed like weeds hogging up the live feed. I really had no interest in playing games since I was experiencing severe financial financial problems and was absorbed by them. I really had no idea how to use facebook to help my business but I kept receiving advice that I should do so, and that implied to me that there must be a way, but I was still clueless as to what that might be.
In my frustration I decided to accept Barbara Roma's invite to join her Mafia. I had no idea what that meant but I figured I had nothing to lose. I started "playing", having very little idea what I was doing. I saw that part of it was owning properties and "doing jobs". Not being your basic criminal at heart I found it a bit hard at first to get into the jobs ie. a mugging, a corner store hold-up, a warehouse robbery, etc. but the properties I could get into. You had to do jobs to get properties- basic economics. I bought up properties and gradually had a steady income coming in and this was somewhat appealing since in life I was struggling due to the unethical conduct of Chase Bank and their Credit Card department, and the fact that I was taken advantage of by some online businesses who took me for $20000.00 by feeding on my desire to make money so that I could retire before I was 90.
Just before Thanksgiving I had 4 members in my Mafia and I was struggling to get a 5th so I could buy a bar. None of my family would join my Mafia and I had very few friends and I had no idea how to get them. I was determined to get to get the bar. I bumped into a friend who found out I was playing Mafia Wars and he had a Mafia of about 800 and he told me that you could recruit "friends" on various pages designed for building your mafia, but to get me my 5th person he would join my Mafia. So I finally got my bar. But to get another one I needed to recruit more members so I searched out one of these "recruitment pages" and started building my Mafia on Thanksgiving day. Within a few days I had built my "family" to over 100 members, bought dozens of bars (you could get one for each 2 members added, and of course $288,000.00), and had my "income up to about 15 million a day. I found that I could escape my day to day problems and at least win a little in my Mafia world.
Now the game doesn't come with a manual so I often found that I had been doing some real stupid things the silliest of which was thinking that I was stranded in Cuba with just a machete. The fact is that you expand and now are able to go to Cuba and can travel back and forth but until a friend explained this to me, I thought I was isolated in Cuba and let my million dollar an hour properties in New York become "disabled" from neglect.
The problem with all this is that I spent hours a day, that I should have been writing articles or hubs or anything else that might be viewed as productive, playing Mafia Wars. By Christmas I had about 250 in my Mafia and was making about 3.5 million and hour in properties and several million a day doing jobs etc. I realized that I was escaping from my day to day problems that I was not winning at and doing something that I could win at.
I also played Farmville, Vampire Wars, School of Wizardry, etc because friends continuously ask you to join something new on a daily basis, but Mafia Wars was the one that really absorbed my time.
The weird thing about this was that my income started to increase. This might mean many things and I have no certainty as to how this came about for sure, but it might have something to with restoring my belief that I could win. It had nothing to do with actually doing anything on facebook except playing the games.
Just about the end of December I started playing Cafe World and in a little over a week I have moved up to level 29. I mention this because it has helped me cut back on my Mafia Wars by giving me another way to win at something I am very familiar with. I have good deal of Restaurant experience and by examining the behavior and flows of the charictors I was able to get a system that kept the "buzz" at 105 which ensures maximum customer volume, allowing me to expand the cafe rapidly. I figured that when it got big enough I will probably decorate it so it would be a show piece like some of the other cafes, but to date in spite of my 50 some odd million I have never gotten time to do anything fancy.
So What is the Point?
The last hubs I wrote were just before I started playing Mafia Wars. It seems that playing the games on Face Book took over my life as a means of escaping the pressures of my day to day life. There are people who play dozens of games on Face Book and I can't imagine where they find the time. They must be far better time managers than me- or their life must be Face Book.
Still while some of the games do give a creative outlet, which is something that my life has been lacking for a while, they do have a tendency to become addicting and perhaps they should come with a warning label. They do enable one to interact with people from all over the world- I have Russian, German, Italian, French, Indian, Arabic and many other nationalities in my "Mafia". I'm sure that it won't pave the way to world peace- but I'm sure that it doesn't hurt.
In todays economy when the flow of money is a bit sticky it feels good to make a few million in a game- not that you can spend it- but it is good for the morale. There is no question that the playing of these games can be addictive, but just what the ramifications of this addiction are is debatable. For one thing, life is a game and when we get into the seriousness of it the game can become overwhelming. If one can take a lighter viewpoint of the whole thing, and not get quite so serious, then they often have greater success at playing life's game. Perhaps the playing of games helps to remind us of that.
On the other hand, when one spends all of their free time playing games instead of fulfilling obligations like paying bills, writing hub pages, keeping their blogs updated, etc... Then perhaps the addiction is not unlike an addiction to any other drug.
The way I solved my problem was to manage my time better. I only allow myself to play games between 6 AM and 8 AM and then again after eight o'clock at night. Now this doesn't mean I must play the games at those times, but it does mean that if I play the games those are the times that I do so.
I do however see how for some people these games can become as real as life itself. I can see where one might not do something that is important to their survival, just because they have to plant their crops, or cook the dishes, or engage in a war. When it gets to this point, I'm not so sure the games are healthy, but for most people I think they're just an outlet to get away from the daily grind. What you think?