Online gaming is pretty popular, especially among people who are active on social networks. This is because online games help people interact with their friends in a fun way. Most online games today connect you through social media where you can take your reality gaming persona to a new level. The problem begins when your online gaming starts to affect your real life, such as taking your time, money, and identity. It might not sound easy to do but it’s becoming more popular in today’s age. Take a look at how online games create a fine line between your real life and virtual life.
Time: Games that Run in Real Time
Some games run in real-time, which means you have to return often in order to succeed at them. This keeps you active in order to move up in the game. For instance, in Virtual Villagers all of your villagers will die if you don’t train them and give them work direction every few hours — the most important being that someone has to gather food for the tribe. Real-time games cause gamers to become addictive and obsess about coming back at the right time. It’s the ultimate hook that keeps you coming back for more.
Real-time games are a problem if they start to interfere with your day-to-day life. It’s not a good thing if you have to keep scheduling a time to go into Farmville to see if your crops are mature and ready for harvest. These games create a sense of urgency that can make you value virtual life more than reality.
Addicted to Candy Crush? So is the rest of the country. Even after a few short levels your hooked! Candy Crush connects to your Facebook with allows you to connect with other players by sending and receiving lives. You also cannot proceed to the next level without tickets from other players. It is addicting whether you like it or not and keeps today’s real time gamers playing consistently.
Money: Real Cash vs. Virtual Cash
Another trend that is bridging the gap between reality and virtual reality is that you can purchase virtual cash with your real-life credit card. Then you can use that virtual cash to buy virtual gifts and items to help you in the game. Some games that allow you to do this include Farmville, Candy Crush Saga, and the Sims.
Most Facebook games use a similar operating model — you can play for free, but you have to buy Facebook coins for use in the games. According to Park Associates, only 5-10 percent of online gamers actually spend real money for virtual items, but the ones that do average around $21 per month.
There are advantages to virtual cash, such as not having to deal with in-game ads, but you’re really just paying for entertainment, not actual items. Some people get caught up in these virtual games and spend too much money. The fine line between virtual cash and real cash can get people in trouble because virtual cash used to have no effect on a person’s real life, but now it does.
Some games even allow you to gamble with your real cash, while getting paid to play makes it even more exciting. Putting in your real cash and winning more sounds great, but try not to let it take over your actual life. Whether you use all your money to gamble online or in person, it can still be an addictive problem.
Identity: Personality Traits in Real Life vs. Virtual Life
Many online games and websites give you avatars that you can customize. The avatars can then be used socially and sometimes in games themselves. The Nintendo Wii introduced their version of your virtual avatar with their “Miis.” The Xbox introduced their own version of this phenomenon, only you could buy extra accessories for your virtual persona.
Usually all you get to do is buy the clothing and accessories for your avatar, but sometimes you can choose personality traits, too. Most people try to choose personality traits for their avatars that they have in real life.
As you can see, sometimes people have a hard time sorting between their real life and virtual life because there is a fine line. What online games are you addicted to and do they affect your real money, time, and identity?