The High Cost Of Smurfberries

« April 2013 »

Memo to America's Youth: LEARN FROM THE SMURFS.

Today, we do something a little different here at good ol' You Are Dumb Dot Net. Today I bring you a message of hope. Wildly unlikely, implausible hope, yes, but hope nonetheless.

See, one of the biggest problems today is that most of us are getting screwed economically, and most of us don't recognize it. Instead of being angry at the system that's screwing us and the people in charge of that system, they get angry at anyone doing slightly better or suggesting we should do slightly better, and we end up in a race to the bottom when it comes to wages, benefits, and retirement plans.

So how can we make people understand unfair economic systems? Current generations are probably fucked, but future generations have a veritable Petri dish of economic models they carry around with them all the time - freemium mobile games.

Nearly all free or nearly-free games have an in-game economy. There's one or more in-game currencies. As you play, or "work", the game doles those currencies out, and they can be spent on various in-game items, some of which allow you to progress farther in the game and/or earn more in-game currency, and so on, and so forth.

Now, these mini-economies exist in our macro-economy, and so these games allow you to use real-world resources to influence the in-game economy, granting you resources and advantages that would take you longer to gain through regular play. You see where I'm going here.

Some in-game economies are fair. With skill and time, you can reap the same rewards as someone who gets a head start by being "rich". Other games pay out very low wages, requiring vast amounts of time and energy to even make basic progress. And some games are completely rigged - set up in such a way that the only way to succeed is to buy yourself an advantage.

Within a matter of days, an attentive gamer can learn the workings of one of these micro-economies and figure out whether their time will be rewarded, or whether they can toil all they want and never really get ahead. And hundreds and hundreds of these tiny economies are living on the phones and tablets of millions of children and teens.

Will this inadvertent economic education create a generation of adults who can actually see that they're being fucked over and do something about it? Well, if you want to keep hope alive, just stay the hell away from the "Top Grossing" chart in iTunes. That way you won't see the ridiculous games people are spending piles of real money on and realize people probably aren't learning shit.