Category Archives: Gaming

video game addiction

Boom Beach: A lesson in how to overcome game addiction

Boom Beach
Boom Beach

 

Living in the shadow of George Yao

I came across the story of George Yao, Clash of Clans player extraordinaire (until he retired last year) after attending this year’s Gaming Analytics Summit conference in San Francisco. An eagerly sought after lunch had me sit next to a developer from Sony’s PlayStation London office. She told me how disappointed she was with this year’s GDC and its feeble analytics content. The story of George Yao, poignantly recounted by New York Times Bits columnist Matt Bai, remains a lesson for game players everywhere on how addiction can take control of your life (for better and for worse). Having a love/hate relationship with mobile gaming myself, I finally discovered and experienced gaming addiction. While I didn’t spend thousands of dollars to purchase more IAPs, I did spend money and in retrospect, I’m upset at myself for having done so.

Gem addiction

Boom Beach is listed as one of the top freemium games in Apple’s iOS store. I knew about Supercell’s Clash of Clans but decided to try out Boom Beach. Similar to Clans, you’re given some land where you are responsible for building your empire. Once you start playing, you quickly realize that similar to Clans, you’ve got to keep collecting pink gems in order to acquire more weaponry and resources to grow your presence. I quickly used up all of my gems and while I enjoyed trying to invade and conquer other players territory, I knew that in order for me to enjoy this game over the long haul I was going to need more gems. Power up as they say! I decided after watching my own island get invaded and ransacked  once too often that the only way I could compete was to purchase more pink gems. I did what I thought I’d never ever do. I purchased more gems. $5. Luckily, I still had some unused iTunes credit (given to me as a present) so I didn’t have to spend any of my own money.

I purchased 500 gems and quickly upgraded my weaponry and resources. I continued to fight competitors, invade islands, and found myself spending more and more time on my iPhone throughout the day. At any point when I had downtime, I jumped on my iPhone to login and see what additional progress I could make. This kept happening, at first, maybe 3 or four times a day, then it quickly jumped to double that, to more than 15 times a day and then into the evening as well. I bought more gems. Another $5 worth. I swore to myself that I’d purchase no more. And then another $5. I spent my entire iTunes credit of more than $40. I kept reviewing the leaderboards and visiting the islands of the top players. How could they have grown their power and influence without having spent money on more gems? Supercell was making a killing. Boom Beach, similar to Clash of Clans, tapped the competitive nerve endings of game players worldwide. Not content to be way down the leaderboard, players spend hundreds of dollars to acquire more gems and rise up. I never thought a player might spend $45 or more on an IAP but I was in for a rude surprise.

I decided for the first time to spend my own money on purchasing additional gems. I kept it to $5 purchases swearing to myself that I wouldn’t spend anymore. Sure enough, wanting to conquer more territory and surpass my competitors, I decided to purchase even more gems. In a three-week period, I spent nearly $200. I played solely using my iPhone. No iPads for me. I knew I was in trouble. I didn’t want to spend any more money but I had to if I was going to grow and become more powerful. How much time was I wasting? The gameplay became less rewarding over time. There’s was no way I could keep up with my competitors. And in an instant, I deleted the game from my iPhone.

Free from addiction

When you’re addicted to anything, you’re held captive by a force unlike no other. It’s that inner voice, telling you “come on,” “there’s nothing wrong with playing a bit more,” “remember, you’re playing with millions of others,” and they aren’t quitting either.” You’re able to prove to yourself why it’s OK to keep playing even if at some point you begin to realize that the returns on playing longer diminished many gems ago. Unlike George Yao, I didn’t make any friends playing Boom Beach. Maybe playing a game on an iPhone isn’t conducive to forging friendships. I don’t know. No one player ever reached out to me saying, “hey, want to be friends?” I felt alone, isolated, and no one cared. Matter of fact, every game I’ve ever played online, I’ve never made any friends. I typically get attacked by more experienced players who could care less about my novice ways. I remember playing World of Warcraft and feeling the same away. No friends and no relationships. In the end, I found playing Boom Beach to be a colossal waste of time. It’s time that I’ve lost and will never get back. But that was my experience. I’m not George Yao and George found friends through his addiction.

I don’t encourage game players to find or seek out addiction. For most, notoriety similar to George Yao won’t arrive. You’ll just remain an anonymous addict whom no one will care about. Think about that the next time you play Boom Beach or any other online game for the umpteenth time.

 

Quagmire - Family Guy mobile game artwork

Family Guy mobile game launch party – Adam West runs for mayor!

I attended the TinyCo launch party for its Family Guy mobile game (The Quest for Stuff) in downtown Hollywood. Turning the Happy Endings Bar and Restaurant into the Drunken Clam was a treat and made for quite an evening of entertainment, food, and booze.

The F2P mobile game is set to debut on April 10 across all iOS and Android platforms. In-app purchase pricing was not disclosed. Fans of the game will be amused by many of the game’s features, most of which borrow straight from the popular TV show. The core story behind the game is that you rebuild Quahog after Peter and Ernie the giant chicken get into a huge fight destroying much of the town. I share with you now some of my pics (along with a video) from this festive occasion. Voice actor Adam West also spoke about his intent to become mayor of every town in the United States.

The Drunken Clam bar
The Drunken Clam bar, set in Hollywood, California.
Family Guy Drunken Clam menu
Drunken Clam menu
Sipping vodka from the Peter Griffin mermaid
Sipping vodka from the Peter Griffin mermaid
Patrick Warburton, voice of Joe Swanson on Family Guy, outside the Drunken Clam bar, signing autographs and promoting the April 10 release of the Family Guy mobile game.
Patrick Warburton, voice of Joe Swanson on Family Guy, outside the Drunken Clam bar, signing autographs and promoting the April 10 release of the Family Guy mobile game.
Gary Cole, voice of Principal Shepherd on Family Guy, interviewed by Playboy Morning Show hostess
Gary Cole, voice of Principal Shepherd on Family Guy, interviewed by Playboy Morning Show hostess
Alex Borstein (voice of Lois Griffin) on Family Guy
Alex Borstein (voice of Lois Griffin) on Family Guy
Adam West, voice of Quahog mayor, interviewed by Playboy morning reporter
Adam West, voice of Quahog mayor, interviewed by Playboy Morning show reporter
Megan Carlsen, artist for Family Guy mobile game characters
Megan Carlsen, artist for Family Guy mobile game characters
Family Guy voice actors, including Patrick Warburton (voice of Joe Swanson on the far left) and Adam West (voice of Quahog mayor) next to him
Family Guy voice actors, including Patrick Warburton (voice of Joe Swanson on the far left) and Adam West (voice of Quahog mayor) next to him
Monster Madness Online Logo

Monster Madness Online: Battle for Suburbia 2014 is utterly insane!

It’s Halloween madness as you destroy vampires & werewolves galore!

Hardcore gamers won’t be able to contain their excitement when they get their hands on Nom Nom’s summer MMO RPG release, Monster Madness Online, Battle for Suburbia. I was lucky enough to get a preview of their open beta at this year’s GDC 2014 and it did not disappoint. The fast action gameplay made it almost impossible for me to keep up, but just as important, for a first person shooter, you will not get bored for a second.

The team at Nom Nom have created their own multiplayer online service called Playverse. The service enables users to chat in real time, see those whom you are playing with, invite players to parties, support achievements, add friends, go between sessions with them, integrates leaderboards and all of it supports either a mobile, Linux, Web browser, IOS, Android, Steam experience.

Beat back the invasion with rapid fire gameplay

Think of it as Halloween on steroids! The kids of Monster Madness Online— Zack Fowler (the Nerd), Andy Gomez (the Skater dude), Jennifer Sweeney (the Cheerleader), and Carrie Rosenberg (the Goth) — are on a mission to beat back this insidious invasion, block by block, and then take the fight to the enemy’s mother ship and beyond. Nothing but vampires, ghouls, werewolves, and more to destroy.

You assume any number of characters, acquire as many weapons as you can, and choose to either go out on your own or support your team as you destroy monster upon monster. Even cooler, the game supports streaming technology. Users will barely notice the upgrades as the game downloads continually without disruption to gameplay.

Characters have access to a ton of different weapons from chainsaws to grenade launchers to shotguns to magic spells, all of which are customizable. The depth of gameplay is through the roof with very detailed weapon stats, including total ammo, how fast a weapon refires, precision targeting, to name but a few. Lots of consumables as well as you proceed through different levels.

Pros: Pure adrenaline rush for those in love with first person shooters. Lightening fast gameplay and unique online multiplayer service that will certainly attract gamers. Available on just about every gaming platform possible. Streaming technology for uninterrupted gameplay.

Cons: None (with the exception of pricing, which we won’t know until the game is commercially released)

Nom Nom has a hit on their hands and I encourage all hardcore gamers to give this one a try when it launches later this year.

Monster Madness Online screenshot
Monster Madness Online – Battle for Suburbia
Monster Madness Online screenshot - Escaping lava
Monster Madness Online screenshot – Escaping lava
Monster Madness Online - Battle for Suburbia
Monster Madness Online – Battle for Suburbia
Monster Madness Online Battle for Suburbia screenshot
Monster Madness Online Battle for Suburbia screenshot

 

Monster Madness Online screenshot - crumbling school in Battle for Suburbia
Monster Madness Online screenshot – crumbling school in Battle for Suburbia

 

Monster Madness Online Logo
Monster Madness Online Logo