Interesting Findings from Free-to-play Games

During my leisure time, I often play some video games. I have a game console (Nintendo 3DS), but I like games on PCs and smartphones as well. Some games on PCs and smartphones are like games on other consoles such as PS4: if you want to play, you need to pay at a store and get the copy of these games. Although many games still have more contents which are available for purchasing, you can just enjoy most of the contents in these games. A typical example is the PC version of the popular video game, Grand Theft Auto 5. No matter what platform the games is on (game consoles, PCs or smartphones), if you want to play these games, you need to pay for the copy first. They are “pay-to-play” games on PCs and smartphones.

 

I think the many of these games are worth purchasing. However, these games are expensive. Pre-owned copies can be found in stores because they are much cheaper than new ones. Not everyone can afford to buy a lot of games—that will cost hundreds of dollars. So the amount of users is limited. In order to enlarge the group of players, some companies created another category of video games: “free-to-play” games. “Free-to-play” means you have the access to the play these games without paying and you will pay for some items (or contents) in these games. They are available on smartphones and PCs. With the expansion of the group of players, even if many players pay a little (even 1 dollar), these games can still generate much revenue. Now this sort of games have dominated the video games market in some countries like China: one of the main companies which offers many free-to-play games, Tencent, announced “net profit rose to 5.86 billion yuan ($937 million) from 3.91 billion yuan a year earlier” (Osawa par. 4). As for free-to-play games on smartphones, we can also find some successful examples. For instance, Supercell Studio’s very popular free-to-play game, Clash of Clans “raked in $892 million in revenue, and the app can bring in up to $5.15 million per day (in 2013)” (Tweedie par. 3).

I’m not a “hard core” game player (who usually have a large collection of various categories of video games), so free-to-play games seem like a good deal for me. I intended to have some fun without paying (although sometimes I paid for some pay-to-play games). When I was at home in China, I often played free-to-play games from the large company, Tencent (which I mentioned previously). I remembered my experience from playing one free-to-play game from Tencent. This game is called “Crossfire”. It was a game just like the famous FPS (first-person shooter game), Call of Duty. I enjoyed this game at the beginning when I opened an account. Although its definition was like the original version of another FPS called Counter-Strike (it’s not with high definition), the free FPS was not bad for me. But the situation gradually changed as the release of powerful items (of course, in a FPS, these items are guns). These new items were very expensive and powerful. You could win the game easily with more reliable and powerful weapons. And because of the release of these items, I thought that this game became a “pay-to-win” game. In fact, players who didn’t pay at all like me were not many. Many players paid a little, and they could enjoy this game. That was reasonable. But with the release of expensive and powerful items, “arm race” appeared. Players who could pay more to buy expensive items got advantages and won more games. In other words, people who could pay more money than the average could win games easily. Players were divided into different “social classes” based on how much they paid. I felt depressed and didn’t play Crossfire any more since then.

Some people may think free-to-play games are not worth playing at all just like what I felt when I played Crossfire. Nonetheless, not all games are like Crossfire. In some free-to-play games, paying more money is not the only option to have advantages. Last year, I started playing Hearthstone, a free-to-play collectible card game. I should say in some aspects, what I saw in Crossfire also exists in Hearthstone. Players will have some kind of advantage if they buy some rare cards. And they are randomly given when players buy card packs. So if a player can buy more card packs, they will have a higher chance to get more rare cards. But if you don’t want to pay much to buy a lot of card packs, Hearthstone offers other options for these players. They may “get 10 gold for every three games you win, up to a maximum of 100 gold per day” and “get a daily quest which is usually worth either 40 or 60 gold. You can save up to three daily quests at once, so you can complete all your daily quests even if you don’t have time to play every day. Expert packs cost 100 gold each.”(Friedman par. 12). Not bad. Players like me still have a chance to obtain rare cards. While I was playing, that was what I always did. Actually, I got some rare cards by finishing these quests. Although I still cannot be as strong as some players who paid a lot, I had an opportunity to beat more average players who paid little or didn’t pay. After all, not every players will pay a lot of money. But I didn’t think anyone could be masters without paying till I met some players during the spring break: I coincidently found that some players became masters without paying much. They built great card decks and won by their interesting strategies with very limited amount of rare cards. According to the amount of rare cards in their card decks, I was pretty sure that they were not players who paid much money. Obviously, limited number of rare cards meant less purchases, otherwise, they might have more rare cards than I saw in their card decks. A good deal, isn’t it? But… Wait a minute! In this case, in order to have more good cards, players need to spend more time on Hearthstone. If do so, Players don’t have to pay much money to win games. They spend much more time than average players. So I think free-to-play games like Hearthstone are still “pay-to-win” games somehow: the cost is not only money, but also time.

Now even free-to-play games like Hearthstone which offers other options for players who don’t want to pay much money do not seem good. If so, we wouldn’t see them in the market of the video games. Who will play games which are not worth playing? But the reality is opposite. Many companies developed this kind of games and earned a lot of money from them. The reality seems weird in facade: many people pay for free-to-play games. Why do many players pay money or spend more time in these games? What’s their motivation?

When I see the word “motivation”, I come up with another one, desire. People are driven by some kind of desire. So there must be something appealing in these free-to-play games. In order to find these appealing features, I think I should see what’s in the accounts first. In free-to-play games, each account represents a virtual avatar. Some items such as cards and golds in Hearthstone belongs to these avatar. The status of a personal account is determined by the personal skills, the amount of money paid, and time spent on games. Many people think they will enjoy these games if their accounts can have better statuses, in other words, be stronger avatars. So they continue to search for some methods to make these avatars better. That’s a common idea. A good avatar can bring satisfaction. Avatars could be a better representation of these players themselves. Here I want to quote something from another article, “Studying the Digital Self” to make further discussions.

In “Studying the Digital Self”, the key term “digital self” is very important. Actually, I think it’s the key to answer why people want to pay for these free-to-play games. “The self becomes a commodity to be packaged and brokered on media sites such as YouTube and on product-related sites” (Smith and Watson par. 7), and I think similar things happened in free-to-play games. Many people tend to think their accounts are very important and tried to make them better. Their accounts became their personal brands. If people can be masters in a game, no matter how they approach this level, they may be tagged by others with something like “having prowess in games”. I think no one doesn’t like the praise when others see the record in a game and say “wow, cool”. So one reason why many people want to pay for free-to-play games is clear now: people wants to be praised or at least complimented by others for their prowess in games, especially when they play a popular game. Free-to-play games make many people feel comfortable and satisfied when they think they can do better in games than others.

Another reason is also relevant to “Studying the Digital Self” and its key term “digital self”. I think people don’t only feel satisfied when they compare their avatars with others, but they also feel satisfied when they compare the avatars with themselves. In “Studying the Digital Self”, I found a sentence: “however malleable and interchangeable identities are online, they are qualified offline by the complexity of embodied social identities” (Smith and Watson par. 8). Indeed, no matter how a person wants to manipulate “digital self”, the “digital self” can still be a reflection of his or her social identities. People cannot avoid expressing their social identities even when they use their avatars. In free-to-play games, the situation is pretty similar. For instance, in many games, the masters will be professional players. Their skills reflect their identities in the society—professional players. “Identity ‘play’ cannot erase the intersecting, historically specific aspects of offline social identities” (Smith and Watson par. 8). It seems that according to these claims in “Studying the Digital Self”, the “digital selves” match social identities or classes of these players because the inevitable intersection between them. But I don’t want to interpret these claims in that way. Actually, I deem these claims in “Studying the Digital Self” as an explanation of the other reason why people pay for free-to-play games: the mismatch between status of avatars in games and social identities in the real world.

Indeed, “digital self” can be a reflection of social identities. So it seems that there’s a contradiction between what I said and claims in “Studying the Digital Self”. But that’s not what I mean. Just like what I said, these claims in “Studying the Digital Self” is an explanation of my argument. Now I want to make analysis about that.

In many free-to-play games, more money or time is the key to get a stronger avatar. People who pay much money or spend more time can have better statuses in these games, that’s what I described in the previous paragraphs. If evaluate the cost of these free-to-play games, I should say whether they are much or not depends on the criterion of the evaluation. For games, the cost is pretty high. Many people pay more money than “pay-to-play” games like Grand Theft Auto 5 in free-to-play games. And some others spend much time in finishing a lot of tasks with rewards. But when I replace the criterion by something in the real world, the costs become pretty low. Comparing with the cost to be at a higher social class in the real world, the cost to be powerful in free-to-play games is way too low. For example, if a person wants to be a successful CEO, he or she may need opportunities, money, specific social networks, diploma, knowledge, and so on. And in these free-to-play games, by paying money and “paying” time, many people have better avatars in these games with better statuses, and their “digital selves” may be at a higher “social class”. And if they think about their position in the real world, they may feel satisfied because their avatars have high classes in games (a virtual world) relative to their social classes in the real world. So now I can draw a conclusion: the most important reason why people want to pay for free-to-play games is the mismatch between the “digital self” and social identities (classes). And this phenomena reflects the social identities of many players—they are not as successful in the real world as they could be in these free-to-play games.

Work Cited:

  1. Osawa, Juro. “Tencent Earnings Rise on Games Business.” WSJ. The Wall Street Journal, 18 Mar. 2015. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.
  2. Tweedie, Steven. “Why ‘Clash Of Clans’ Is So Incredibly Popular, According To A Guy Who Plays 16 Hours A Day.” Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 25 Sept. 2014. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.
  3. Friedman, Daniel. “Is Hearthstone Pay-to-win? We Find out.” Polygon. Vox Media Inc., 09 May 2014. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.
  4. Smith, Sidonie, and Julia Watson. “Studying the Digital Self.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 21 Apr. 2014. Web.27 Apr. 2015.
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The Evolution of Video Gaming

Video Games and consoles have expanded greatly in the last few decades. They have brought e  ndless hours of entertainment to millions of people all over the world, myself included. The evolution of video gaming has changed our world in a variety of ways. No longer do people view video gaming the same way. To many people, video gaming is much more than just something done to have fun and waste some time. It is a gateway for advanced communication and technology.

I have played video games since as long as I can remember. It started when I was very young. My neighbor had the Nintendo-64 and I would go to his house almost every day and play games for hours. It was the first gaming system that I was fortunate enough to play, and it truly inspired my future connections with video gaming. It wasn’t until my parents said I was playing video games too much that my playtime decreased. However, a few years later my parents bought me the Nintendo GameCube, and this was the first time I experienced some of the changes of an upgraded video game system. The first apparent change was that I had a larger selection of games to play. It seemed like what used to be only Mario games expanded to a much larger variety. Some of my favorite games were Super Mario Sunshine, Pikmin and NFL Blitz; all were much different but equally fun. Many years later, I was lucky enough to get the Microsoft Xbox 360 for Christmas. I remember the first time I played on it. It seemed completely foreign to me, as the capabilities of the Xbox 360 were something I had never seen before. First off, the graphics were much better. Everything seemed much more life-like and this was one of the main attractions compared to older systems. One of my favorite games was Guitar Hero, which was a game where you had a fake guitar with 5 buttons on it and you could strum along to real songs. This later made me believe I was good at playing the guitar, so I purchased a real guitar awhile later and tried to play, but the hobby didn’t stick. Another great feature of the Xbox 360 was the online capability. You could connect with players all around the world to challenge and communicate with them. It was very fun because it gave you the opportunity to test your skills against the best players in the world.

Now that I have talked a bit on my experience with video games, and the evolutions that I have seen first hand, I will focus on the evolutions throughout the entire life of the video gaming industry- one of the biggest changes is the variety of games. When consoles were just being made they would simply be a single game, or only have the capability to play a few different games. In today’s world, however, there are hundreds of games on a variety of different gaming systems that we can choose from. If you do not like action games, you can play sports games. If you do not like sports games, you can play adventure games, and so on. The opportunities now seem to be endless. Another huge part of the industry’s evolution has been the changes in graphics, as discussed earlier. Video games now almost give you a feeling of real life, as if you are really there in the action. This has really expanded the user base because people feel like they’re actually a part of the game. Another way consoles have expanded is in their capabilities. Consoles can now do much more than play games. They can connect to the Internet and play movies. You can use them to watch Netflix, or even connect to your favorite social media websites. It really is mind-blowing to think about all the capabilities that some of the modern consoles have, and I can’t wait to see how they continue to expand in the future.

As people experience the changes in video gaming technology, they are changing with them. As stated earlier, one evolution of the video gaming industry is online play. This allows people from all over the world to connect and challenge each other at their favorite games. It brings in new competitive and social aspects to video gaming. You can challenge the best players in a certain game, and instantly talk to people from anywhere in the world with a headset. This is a very enjoyable aspect of video gaming in the modern age, and one of the reasons for the large increase in the number of video gamers.

Alone Together by Sherry Turkle takes an interesting viewpoint that allows us to look at the evolution of video gaming in a different way. The book explores the idea that as technology expands, there are more ways to be connected, networked and to be together. However, while video games may connect us in many ways, they may actually make us more physically alone. As discussed earlier, the new generation of gaming consoles allows for greater connection and communication through online play. We hop on our favorite video games and we’re able to talk to people all around the globe and even become friends with them. But we are not with them, and we will most likely never see them. This is a problem that affects people, mostly children and teenagers, from all around the world. People lack the desire for true friendship because they think the people they talk to online are their friends. Even though this can be true and some people do make good friends online, this is a very unhealthy concept that has adverse affects on people. It will often cause people to be unsociable in real life. It is very interesting to think about the ways that video games connect us in many ways, but make us more disconnected in other ways.

Another interesting change in video gaming is the shift to more female gamers.

Video games are often seen as being mainly used by males, whom are usually stereotyped as teenagers. This is far from the truth. It really boils down to the type of game being played; for example, you are more likely to see a male playing a first-person shooter than you are to see a female. This is because video games are marketed to their respective audiences, and there has been a recent rise in marketing to females. One game series that is marketed towards females is Sims, which is a game where people can create a home and family, and really make their own fictional world. While many games like this target a female audience, gaming on home consoles isn’t the preferred method by females. The majority of female gamers are actually playing games on their mobile devices. The marketing of games on phones is much less gender-based, which is a reason for the large number of females playing them. Another method of gaming that has appealed to females is the Nintendo Wii. The Wii can be seen as a fitness device and has a large appeal to females because it is more active. With these new marketing techniques and gaming methods, the population of female gamers has been rapidly increasing.

Besides the enjoyment that video games bring, why do we really care about how video games evolve? Well, there are many positive and negative affects that video gaming has on people, and many of these affects are due to the advances within the industry. Lets first look at some of the negatives. One of the biggest arguments against the playing of video games is the possibility of negatively affecting one’s health. This is usually only seen in people who play excessively, to the point where it keeps them from doing other activities. For example, a teenager that’s playing video games for 8 hours every day may not get the exercise that they should, or may even divert their attention from school and start to get bad grades. These are some of the reasons why people may stereotype video gamers as obese teenagers who are wasting their lives sitting on the couch all day. However, this is obviously an extreme case, and far from true for all people that play video games. Another negative is the possibility for video games to cause aggression, which is often seen when people are playing violent games. Some of the most popular games are violent, and children who play these games often display aggressive behaviors. There have been cases where kids have actually killed others because of there experiences with these games. This is why it’s very important for video game usage in children to be monitored, either by limiting the type of games played, or by limiting the time playing violent games.

While most people are able to point out some of these negative impacts, they often fail to see some of the positives of video games. One of these includes the fact that video games may improve computer literacy and coordination, which is mostly seen in children. (1) This may allow them to be able to perform computer tasks more efficiently or even enhance performance in sports. There are also video games specifically designed for educational purposes and these are great learning techniques for children.

There are many ways that video gaming has evolved since the first years that the industry was introduced. This was made possible by the great advances in technology and intellect. The evolution of video gaming has allowed for millions of people to be thoroughly entertained and there are many good and bad impacts stemming from these changes. It’s important to realize potential risks and benefits of playing video games, and to monitor the usage amongst children. Video games affect people in more ways than most people think. They evoke emotions and they change personalities, and these changes are only getting more common as technology in video games advance. I can’t wait to see what the future of this technology has in store for us, as well as how these technological advances will continue to shape human behavior.

Work Cited

1.) “The Impact of Video Games.” The Impact of Video Games. N.p., n.d.

Web. 27 Apr. 2015. <http://www.pamf.org/parenting-teens/general/media-web/videogames.html&gt;.

2.) “Female Gamers On The Rise.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, n.d. Web. 15

Apr. 2015. <http://www.forbes.com/2009/07/06/video-games-girls-markets-equities-technology.html&gt;.

3.) “The Art of Video Games.” Smithsonian. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.

<http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-art-of-video-

4.) Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less

from Each Other. Basic, 2011. Print.

Research Questions

When I conceived the topic of the paper, at first I had no idea. And one day when I played a “free-to-play” card games called Hearthstone, I realized that maybe I could start with games like Hearthstone. I felt depressed during those days because I lost a lot of games. I met many players with “legendary cards” and they beat me easily even if I had the advantage at the beginning. “Legendary cards” were available if you paid much money. I was confused. I was told that it was “free-to-play” but the situation was different. So my first research question is relevant to the features of these “free-to-play” games: are they really “free-to-play” games? If not, what are they?

Then I retrospect my personal experience in Hearthstone. I got the answer. No, “free-to-play” games are not free at all. In fact, they should be called “pay-to-win” games. Want to win? Please pay much for your powerful items. One or two dollars won’t work. Just need a little bit more—more than the average. Otherwise, do not play. Indeed, this situation is what I saw before in some “free-to-play” games: the key to win in these games is paying more money than the average players. However, I noticed that in Hearthstone, it seemed that some players didn’t pay but they play well and they also have good cards. I felt confused. What happened to them? Is it possible to win without paying much money in some of “free-to-play” games? I tried to find the answer because I thought that should be in the argument and I opened Hearthstone. And I noticed that players could also get rewards by accomplish tasks which was called “quests” in this game. So the answer is obvious: even for players who don’t want to pay much money, they have alternatives instead of paying money. I mean, they need to spend more time than average players in accomplishing tasks and get rewards, otherwise, they will be beaten by players who pay much. So the definition of “pay” is not only paying money, but also spending more time. More money and time than average are the costs of playing “free-to-play” games. And if people want to be powerful, the cost should be more than the average.

Wait a minute. After I found answers to all these research questions mentioned above, I should get the conclusion: “free-to-play” games are not worth playing. However, the reality is opposite. Many players are willing to pay for their items. And some games in this category could easily get a huge amount of profit. Why do many people want to pay more than the average players for these “free-to-play” games even if this sort of game is only “free-to-play” in facade? What’s the motivation of paying in these games?

 

Well, these two questions aren’t easy to answer.  But when I wrote the outline of the paper, I got some inspiration. I realized that money and time created divisions in these “free-to-play” games, and obviously in these games something like social classes came into being. What do different divisions in “free-to-play” games reflect?

In order to answer this question, I made a comparison. It’s not easy to be a millionaire in the real world; but in these games, just by paying a little bit more money and time, people could be powerful and strong. In other words, they may be at a higher “social class” in games than they are in the society. For example, in some games, you may be at level 100. It’s pretty good, isn’t it? Very powerful. But in the real world, it’s way too hard to approach the same “level”. So there’s a mismatch between the level in games and the social class in the real world. That’s why many people are willing to pay more money and spend more time than the average players in these games: comparing with the social class and the level in games, it’s much easier to be a better person in games, isn’t it?

Personal Research Reflection – Video Games

I have always loved video games, which is one of the reasons why looking at the evolution of gaming systems amazes me. This evolution is not just something that has happened over many decades, it can be seen from year to year. In my lifetime alone, I have experienced many of these changes.

It started when I was very young. My neighbor had the Nintendo-64 and I would go there almost every day to play for hours. It wasn’t until my parents said I was playing video games too much that my playtime decreased. However, a few years later my parents bought me the Nintendo Gamecube, and this was the first time I experienced some of the changes of an upgraded video game system. The first apparent change was that I had a larger selection of games to play. It seemed like what used to be only Mario games expanded to a much larger variety. Some of my favorite games were Super Mario Sunshine, Pikmin and NFL Blitz; all were much different but equally fun.

Many years later, I was fortunate enough to get the Microsoft Xbox 360 for Christmas. This is when I really started to see changes. The capabilities of the Xbox 360were something I had never seen before. First off, the graphics were much better. Everything seemed much more life-like and this was one of the main attractions compared to older systems. One of my favorite games was Guitar Hero, which was a game where you had a fake guitar with 5 buttons on it and you could strum along to real songs. This later made me believe I was good at playing the guitar, so I purchased a real guitar awhile later and tried to play, but the hobby didn’t stick. Another great feature of the Xbox 360 was the online capability. You could connect with players all around the world to challenge and communicate with them. It was very fun because it gave you the opportunity to test your skills against the best players in the world.

Many times I think back about how I got started into video games and some of the things that influenced me to keep playing them. The enjoyment factor is definitely the main reason. I have had so much fun playing video games in my life, and I have made friends along the way. However, I also feel that I have wasted a great deal of time. There are so many other things that I could have spent my time on. For example, I could have expanded my education and spent more time doing schoolwork. Video gaming is an activity that is fun in moderation, but excessive use is really just a detriment to you in many ways. It’s easy to see why the video gaming industry has boomed in the last few decades. With the invention of new technologies, the growth will only continue. I can’t wait to see some of the ways the industry will change, and I’m happy that I will be around to experience these changes.

Essay Outline (About free-to-play games)

Introduction

Nowadays many players spent much time on playing games which is called “free-to-play” games. However, they are not free at all. In fact, they are some sort of “pay-to-win” games. Players who paid more money will get more good items and others who spent much more time will also get these items if they can accomplish tasks and then get rewards. But in this situation, many people still enjoy these games although they are not fair as “pay-to-play” games (for example, games on Nintendo 3DS). Why do people continue playing “free-to-play” games?

In These Games: Players Are Intentionally Divided into Groups

In order to find some clear reasons, I think it’s necessary to see how these games are like. In these “free-to-play” games, players are divided into different groups with various statuses: players who paid more money than the average players; players who spent much more time than others and the average players who paid a little or did not pay at all. Just like the real world, even in these “free-to-play” games, something like “social status” appeared. “Richer” players will get more benefits and some players who spent much more time in accomplishing tasks with rewards will also get more benefits than the average players. In a word, in order to get more benefits as soon as possible, players have one option: paying more. And sometimes there will be another one: spending more time. But in some games, this option is not available, and the only way to be much stronger than the average players is paying more money.

The Examples from My Personal Experiences

One typical “free-to-play” game in the U.S. is Hearthstone. Hearthstone is a collectible card game which is available on PCs, Mac and tablets and maybe this category of card game is inherently created for the collection of more money once they were debuted. In Hearthstone, you need to collect better cards than what others have to win. Rare cards are always along with some powerful features. When I played this game, I met some players with rare cards including special features. Actually, for many times when I was about to win, one or two very rare cards in my opponents’ deck soon changed the situation and then I lost. Another situation is about “masters”. Sometimes I realized I met very smart players. Indeed, they had few rare cards, but they won by using good strategies. I thought they spent much time in Hearthstone than average players.

Another instance of “free-to-play” game is an online PC game from China, Crossfire. In China, due to some reasons which I cannot understand, the government had forbidden the sale of game consoles for many years. So game companies turned to create a new market about online PC games. And Tencent is one of these successful companies. Tencent introduced Crossfire into the market. It’s a game like Counter-Strike (the original version). And it’s “free-to-play”. At the beginning (in 2010), Crossfire was not bad, I enjoyed this game. But with the releases of expensive items, it soon became unfair for average players. If players bought an items (in this game, the primary items are guns), he or she will definitely have a better chance to kill opponents in the game. Their weapons can target more precisely. So I quitted several years ago. Last year, I logged in and was curious about what was going on in this game. Just like what I expected—this situation was still the same as what I saw several years ago.

Moreover, there are many other examples in Apple’s App Store or Google Play. For example, Clash of Clans. It’s “free-to-play”, but the first time when I opened it, I realized that, this kind of game on smartphones is also “pay-to-win”. For the constructions in Clash of Clans, if you want to finish quickly and get more advantages, just pay. Or, wait for a while, and others may surpass you while you are waiting.

Why to Play: the Mismatch of Status

“Free-to-play” means “pay-to-win” for these games. Why do many people still want to play this kind of game? I think people play “free-to-play” games just because of the lack of fairness. In other word, the existence of the “social classes” in games. In these games, each one may own at least one account. And they can have another version of themselves by using these accounts. In the society, it seems hard to change the social status (social classes). But “free-to-play” games offered an opportunity to change virtual social status by paying (money or time). Some people may not have an opportunity to be a millionaire in the real world, but they may pay more money than average players do (even just a little bit more) and be “richer” in the game. There is some kind of mismatch between the status of players and social status. Many people are very glad to see this situation. Comparing with the real world, it is way too easy to be in ‘upper class” in a games, isn’t it? If you can be stronger by paying money or spending much more time, why not do this? At least, in a virtual world, they may be better off easily.

Work Cited

  1. http://www.polygon.com/2014/5/9/5699178/hearthstone-pay-to-win
  2. http://www.businessinsider.com/why-clash-of-clans-is-so-popular-2014-9
  3. http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2014/01/20/crossfire-tencents-top-earning-free-to-play-game-youve-never-heard-of/
  4. http://chronicle.com/article/Studying-the-Digital-Self/145971/

Something I Found from Free-to-play Games

During the spring break, I found that it was a great opportunity for me to relax. And one day I clicked the icon of the free-to-play game called Hearthstone accidentally. At first, I heard of this game from some friends, and began to play it since last spring. However, I didn’t consider too much about this game. As a casual player, it was just a casual card game for me. This time, I clicked the icon and opened this game, just chose to play “rank mode” which was a new thing for me. I thought I was familiar with this game so it would be fine if I started to have a try for this more professional mode. I thought I had several cards and pretty balanced card decks. Then I started the game.

But things weren’t as fine as what I expected. I met many players who had orange cards, the best category among all the cards. I reviewed what cards I had and realized it was hard for me to beat them. I tended to think whether Hearthstone was fair. Then I suddenly came up with a thought: it’s free-to-play ostensibly, but in fact it’s not. It’s just like some games on PCs and smartphones. Another typical example is Clash of Clans, it’s free and you can “get” it from Apple’s App Store, but in order to get more resources in this game as soon as possible, obviously, you need to pay by dollars. Now many games in App Store or Google Play are just have the same strategy. Another option to get more resources in this kind of games is spending more time than other players. So in all, if you need to gain more resources free-to-play games, you need to pay more, or just spend much more time than the average. So in the community of players, differences between players appeared. Players who pay more are just like some very rich people in the real world; players who spend much more time in conceiving strategies and accomplishing some rewarding tasks are just like people who have PhD degrees. As for others, they may pay for a little amount or not pay at all, and they are the average players.

I realized that even in a free-to-play games, for some reasons, there are various “social classes”. So why do many people still want to try so-called free-to-play games which should be called “pay-to-win” games? I tried to retrospect my experience to find an answer, and found that I just had many related experiences when I was in China. In China, there is an online free-to-play PC game called “Crossfire”. It’s a game like Call of Duty without high definition (in order to make it compatible with many old PCs in China). I used to play it several years ago, but as the releases of powerful and expensive items which broke the balance of this game, I quitted. Many players had these items and who didn’t pay for these expensive virtual items (over 40 dollars each) can hardly win a game. For these player who bought these expensive items, they might be satisfied by winning games. Indeed, not everyone can be rich or powerful in the real world, but by paying more, at least many people could get strong “digital selves” in the virtual world. As for other free-to-play games which offer other options like rewarding tasks for players who will pay much time instead of much money, they are also satisfied by winning games because they can believe that they are talented masters in the game. Free-to-play games created some sort of virtual societies, and there are also some “social classes” in them. But not as Twitter (celebrities can be more influential than common people), players can be stronger just by paying more money (for all free-to-play games) or time (for some of free-to-play games). Digital self can mismatch with the true self easily, that’s why I think people are glad to pay something for this kind of games. Pay much, then get satisfaction from winning and be in a high “social class” in a virtual world, why not pay? As a casual player in Hearthstone (play just for fun), that’s my explanation from my personal experience.

Work Cited

Smith, Sidonie, and Julia Watson. “Studying the Digital Self.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. N.p., 21 Apr. 2014. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.

Video Gaming Outline

Research Question:

In what ways has gaming changed/evolved and how have these changes shaped how people interact?

Introduction:

-Fun fact about video games

-Size of the gaming industry including basic statistics on popularity and usage of video games

-Brief background of my experience with video games (I’ve been playing since I was a kid…)

Thesis; Video gaming has evolved greatly in the decades since its creation, and in many ways these changes have shaped how people behave and interact with each other… (Going off of research question)

Evolution of gaming systems

-Video game systems of the old vs. modern video game systems (Atari, Nintendo 64, Wii, Xbox one etc..)

– Xbox vs Playstation (Innovative differences, creators…)

-Types of gaming systems (Handheld gaming systems, Home consoles, microconsoles…)

-Video gaming on computers

-Video gaming on phones

-Types of video games

-Online video games

-People from all over the world can play together, also brings in a competitive edge

-Some consoles now have the capabilities to go online, including the ability to go on social media as well as scroll the internet

-What exactly has changed in the gaming systems capabilities?

-Wider variety of games

-Better graphics

-Video games now can be seen as an artform

-Intelligence’Skills/Hardwork that it takes for creating video games

-Facts about the work that the game designers put in to create the games, or specific examples of video games being seen as art

How do people see games differently in the modern age?

-More girls are starting to play video games (Many studies showing that boy vs. girl usage is almost even)

-Much due to marketing certain games to girls

-Gaming apps on phone are often much more appealing to girls

The good vs. the bad

-Often depends on the type of games

Positive effects

-Sometimes allow us opportunities to learn, great for entertainment and relieving stress

-Some games have been proven to develop problem solving skills and logic, as well as decision making, memory, concentration…

Negative effects

-Spending too much time on video games with negatively effect other things in your life, such as school performance, lack of exercise and other health problems

-Possible social isolation

-Reality vs. fantasy

-Carrying feelings from video games into real life, again this is mainly in children

-The impact of video games on people and children in specific (including how violent video games may affect people… transferring feelings of violence and aggression into real world actions. Ex. Children have shot and killed people after exposure to violent video games)

-Addictions and nonstop usage

-Wrap up of good vs. bad

-Like anything else in the world, video games are abused by a large number -of people, and this can obviously lead to problems. However, when gaming time is limited and/or the right video games are being played, it can be beneficial in many ways

Conclusion:

-There are many ways that video gaming has evolved since the first years that the industry was created. This was made possible by the great advances in technology and intellect. This evolution has allowed for millions of people to be open to endless entertainment.

-Weighing the good vs. bad again

-Changes in interaction

-Future of video games?