Monday, December 20, 2004

Grimaces, Everyone! Grimaces!

Memo to my people: STOP MAKING US LOOK BAD.
This is not about the SpikeTV Video Game Awards, which were held last week and repeated all weekend, because I've covered that ground before. Although I will mention, casually, that having an award titled "Most Addictive Game Fueled By Mountain Dew" is not exactly striving for legitimacy, here. The Oscars do not go begging to Victoria's Secret to sponsor the Best Supporting Actress award, and people care who wins it. Learn from example.
No, this time I'm talking about the brilliant act of spending real money on virtual assets. I know this has been going on for years, with Ultima Online nerds, then Everquest nerds, then Everquest II nerds, lining up on eBay to shell out upwards of a few hundred bucks for magical items they can't be bothered to go and find on their own.
Now, that's stupid. But it's at least understandable. There's a time/money equation involved that works out to something that borders on reasonable. I've spent a hundred bucks on stuff people would find questionable, so if someone wants to drop some of their funmoney on a hundred virtual gold pieces, that's their business. I don't begrudge people their stupid, stupid hobbies. Unless it's funny.
But when you jump a couple of orders of magnitude, and spend the equivalent of a mid-priced luxury car on an island that DOESN'T FUCKING EXIST, then we need to have a little talk. Because you get on the news for doing shit like that, and then people think we ALL do that, and then we all get questions like "Bought any fake islands lately?" Which is better than the "Beaten up any hookers lately?" questions gamers got after GTA 3 caused a ruckus, but still.
And use your real name. I know your "handle" is important to you, because you hate your real self, but when journalists come calling, tell 'em what your mama called you. Otherwise, it leads to ridiculous sentences in news stories. Here, I'm quoting the venerable, dignified BBC, forced to utter the following: "The Australian gamer, known only by his gaming moniker Deathifier, bought the island in an online auction."
If your only name is "Deathifier", you should not be having major news stories written about you unless you blew up a building. And even then, there should be a bit of snickering from the news-reader after they say "Deathifier".
Australia's leading expert in deathification apparently purchased a virtual island in the massively multiplayer online roleplaying game "Project Entropia", which I'd never heard of either. Entropia is like Everquest for economics majors, allowing you to buy and sell your virtual stuff in-game instead of relying on outside auction services like eBay. So there was an auction for a fake island, and when all was said and done, He Who Deathifies had spent $26,500 on a bunch of polygons on a server somewhere.
Now, how much would you pay for ACTUAL QUOTE TIME? What if I told you that when you purchased the ACTUAL QUOTE from Deathifier, I'll throw in an ACTUAL QUOTE from the developer absolutely free? This is a limited time offer, so act now.
"This is a historic moment in gaming history, and this sale only goes to prove that massive multi-player online gaming has reached a new plateau." - Marco Behrmann, PR flack for the game company. And in a sense, he's right. This auction proves that Moore's Law applies to both computing power AND the Barnum Temporal Sucker Ratio.
"This type of investment will definitely become a trend in online gaming." - Deathifier (snicker). Yes, Deathifier (snicker) hopes to make back his twenty six grand and then some by charging virtual rent and selling off virtual parcels of his virtual island to a bunch of OTHER fantasy economists who are even dumber than he is.
Enjoy it while it lasts. Since your great investment is completely at the mercy of "gods" that are vengeful, angry, and constantly filing for Chapter 11, I'd work on finding a bunch more suckers fast. 'Cause your Treasure Island is one server crash away from being Mount Vesuvius.