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  • Writer's picturePatricia

Online Gaming, Addiction, Evony, and Moore's Law

I started playing this online game called Evony several years ago because my brother and boyfriend at the time both played it and liked it. We started up new characters on the same server and started our own three person alliance just for some social fun together. It was fun for a while and then we got bored and moved on to other things.

Of all the games I have ever played online, I played them because a friend asked me to join them. After some time had passed, this game called Evony came out with a newer version called Evony Age II. I decided it would be fun to play a game just for myself once, not as an invitation from someone else... so I did.

Evony uses a game model that is free to log on and play, but if you spend money in their cash shop you can advance quicker and more easily than the non-spenders. They build in certain roadblocks to encourage you to spend money or else spend months and even years trying to get the very rare drop that will let you advance. For the most part I play as one of the freeloaders, however I have made one purchase in order to get past the first advancement hurdle after several months of trying to do it the free way.

This game, like others requires you to log in regularly to check the status of your cities, defend against attacks, collect resources and build troops. It is not a hurry up and win sort of game, but a long-term strategy game which you can learn the basics of quickly and go have a good time or you can study the infinite and ever-changing complexities of the game mechanics in order to affect maximum damage on your opponent with minimum loss. Whichever style you choose to adopt, the game is further enhanced with the infrastructure of alliances, a built in chat system, and a mail system.

As the server that you play on ages, you become more acquainted with other players, both allies and enemies. Battles rage on in ever increasing size and scope. Psychological warfare comes into play and you work to defeat your enemies even before the first army begins to march by using misinformation and generally trying to get a rise from your enemy so they will lose focus and make mistakes.

People you have played with become your brothers and sisters in arms. You exchange contact information with them. You share details of your lives with them outside the confines of the game. You connect with these people through other social media such as Facebook or Skype. Telephone numbers and addresses are exchanged. You learn about their lives, their families, their hopes and dreams. You become a part of their lives as a digital, real-time, pen pal.

Special ones evolve beyond digital means of communication and become true friends who you enjoy for years to come, sometimes even for the remainder of your lifetime. This is how Evony and other online social games are addictive. In a very personal way, these friends from around the globe have become your friends and your most trusted soldiers in battle. You have come to know them, love them, and sacrifice yourself for them just like you might a neighbor, a family member, or another member of your military platoon.

The fact that these are pixel adventures is irrelevant. These friends celebrate your accomplishments and mourn your defeats. They have your back in good times and bad. Knowing you has made an impact on their lives and knowing them has made an impact on your life.

People often say, "it's just a game." This is true. It is just a game. The play mechanics are just pixels on a screen that you can occupy your time and mind with. They are as simple or as complex as you wish them to be. However there is a human element which cannot and should not be denied, for it is this contact with other humans and the ability to know people from all around the world and all different walks of life that keeps people playing the game and makes it addictive.

For me, ultimately, I view the internet, online gaming, and all social hubs as gifts which open global communication and idea sharing to a level never possible for our ancestors. There is a scientific observation called Moore's Law that says, the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. Now too the era of global communication, idea sharing, tolerance, and understanding are also growing at exponential speed.

It is not just game mechanics that we discuss with these friends while we play and chat, but politics, religion, financial matters, social beliefs, hopes, dreams, tragedies, accomplishments, childhood memories, lessons learned, conspiracy theories.... anything and everything.

In some ways there is more honesty in these conversations than if the same conversation were held face to face with someone. You can bear your heart and soul to a person and really let them know you without the risk of being rejected or embarrassed face to face. Without having to worry if you'll run into them down at the grocery store after they know your deepest thoughts and maybe disagree with them.

It is no longer one government communicating with another, it is every citizen communicating with the world first-hand. Each of us making friends and enemies around the globe for ourselves. Each of us making our own decisions and choices about who to friend and why.... what and how much to tell them. We are confirming that we are all different and yet all the same. We are beginning to speak with a unified voice.

Online games may be addictive and even detrimental if played in excess. They are also an accelerant to international relations, unification, understanding, tolerance and harmony with citizens across the whole planet. Ultimately, online games as well as other forms of social media are the spearhead ushering in a new era of peace and love for one another.

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