My Fish Tanks Are Empty and my Pet Is Abandoned

Like many people, I managed to get hooked into some games on Facebook.  You know the kind.  Cheesy flash games that mostly have no point, purpose, or conclusion.  Their goal is to get you to play as many hours as possible, and eventually to get you to spend real money on the game.  Or in other words, they’re a time-sink and a money waster.

The games that I took to are Zynga games.  They’re pretty polished.  When I first started playing them they really weren’t that bad.  Lately, though, they’re chock full of pop-ups demanding that you ‘share! share! share!’ everything you do.  Not to mention the ‘Become a Fan!’ and ‘Add More Friends!’ pop-ups.  There are so many of these pop-ups that the slight entertainment value is rapidly disappearing.  If you open one of their games and then let it sit for a few minutes, you might come back to a stack of half a dozen pop-ups wanting you to publish things to your Newsfeed or add friends.

Now, in addition to their demands to share nearly every action you perform in the game and they’re incessant demand that you ruthlessly hound your friends into jumping on the bandwagon, they’re trying to get my e-mail address.  Facebook is going to make some change to the way application notifications are handled sometime in the near future.  That’s fine with me.  What’s not fine with me is giving my e-mail address to Zynga.  I still consider my e-mail address to be a pretty private thing.  I have a personal e-mail address, an e-mail address that I tend to use for comment forms, and an e-mail address I use as a contact e-mail for my blog.  They all serve their purposes and have varying degrees of exposure.  The e-mail address I use for Facebook is my personal e-mail address, because these are my personal connections.  I’m not going to allow some Facebook flash game developer to have access to it.  Especially when they have a track record of spamming.

Zynga’s applications, and other players, generate quite a bit of ‘noise’ already in notifications, requests, and my newsfeed.  Why would I want even more ‘noise’ in my e-mail inbox?  As a cheap incentive, most of Zynga’s games are offering special items or bonuses for giving up your e-mail address.  I think my time and privacy is worth more than a special fish or a few extra game coins.  I’ll be keeping my e-mail address to myself Zynga.  Thanks, but no thanks.

In addition to all the noise Zynga games create, they’re big time-sinks.  I realized that I have to give up some of these games if I want to be able to do other things I enjoy, like reading the news, studying, exercising, eating, etc.

So, to that end, I’m putting FishVille and PetVille on the chopping block.  I’ll also be cutting back on the amount of space I use to ‘grow’ crops in FarmVille and the amount of time I invest into it as well.  There are more important things in life than fake fish, a fake pet (I already have two real ones that are a handful), and fake crops.

Hey FishVille! So long, and thanks for all the fish!  In memory of my fish tanks, some screenshots:

The only one that really has me hooked is Cafe World.  I’ve always been a sucker for cooking in games. I even had maxed cooking skill in Final Fantasy XI.  What I like about Cafe World is that it’s possible to get by without having to spend real cash.  What I don’t like about it is the number of pop-ups.  ‘Become a Fan’ it says, when I already am.  ‘Add More Friends’ it demands, when all the friends that want to play the damn thing already are.  It’s going to wear out its welcome soon too, if that keeps up.

Keep pushing the limit Zynga.  If I can quit playing World of Warcraft, don’t think I can’t give you up.

How Real Are Friends On Social Networks?

I remember asking myself this question a few times, but not any time recently.

When the internet first became popular, and I was delving into the world of AOL chat rooms, the people on the other end of the screen names popping up on my monitor seemed… well, impersonal.  It was always like talking to a group of random strangers, and the idea of making friends with people I’d never met in person was ridiculous.

Well, that was 13 years ago. The times, and my opinion, have both changed.  I’m sure that most people who have grown up with internet access would find it odd to not make and keep online friends.  It seems only natural nowadays to stumble across an interesting person, strike up a conversation, and create a lasting relationship.

I have plenty of friends that I’ve never seen in person, but have known for a long time through various methods of internet communication.  In fact, one of my oldest friends is a friend I made through an online game called Dark Age of Camelot.  We’ve been chatting off and on for about 7 years.  I’ve never know anyone else outside of my family for that long.  I also still communicate with the people I played World of Warcraft with two years ago.

I suppose you could say, “Well how well do you really know these people?”  Sure, that’s a good point.  How well can you know someone who you only communicate with via the internet?  A person can tell you one thing but actually do another, and you’d never know since you weren’t there.  But, I suppose that takes a leap of faith initially, and a little trust.  Also, with the more recent explosion of “real time” social networks (think Twitter) it’s becoming easier to get to know a person you’ve never met.

People Tweet about all kinds of things, from what they have in the morning, to what they do at work, to the last time they were able to successfully take a crap.  That’s pretty personal.  On top of that, people Tweet photos and videos.  I think there are even geo-tagged Tweets now?  Also, programs like Google Latitude are becoming popular.  It’s becoming more and more simple to connect and get to know your online friends.

So, I would have to say that I know plenty of people that I would think of as friends, that I’ve only chatted with online.  What’s your take on it?  Have any interesting stories to share about meeting people online?  Or do you think it’s bad or dangerous?

(Image Source: Kikolani.com)