In my last post I discussed Fish World and the impact of social games on people, from the youngest to the oldest of us. I was amazed by how quickly I was sucked into the rhythm of playing a facebook based game and all of the housekeeping, decorating, maintaining and growing that world requires.
While I played Fish World, I was encouraged to "get" more fishbucks by clicking through to that page. When I got there, Offerpal suggested I purchase bucks with my credit card or through PayPal. You can certainly earn fishbucks through play, but you can also buy them with real money.
I have struck a nerve on a number of occasions already with friends and family, most of whom feel that they have witnessed love ones retreat from the real into the virtual world, which concerned loved ones have found alarming.
Here is another facet of social gaming - monetizing for game creators. I was not aware of the statistic, but my husband shared that real purchase of virtual gifts and gear is a multi-billion dollar business.
What exactly does this mean? One example - in facebook, members are prompted to remember their friends' birthdays with a link to their friend's home page. When clicking on the link, the member is encouraged not only to leave their best wishes, but to purchase a virtual gift which they can purchase with their credit card or through pay pal with real money.
Another example - in social gaming, many items are available through soliciting other members, but are also available for the "bucks" that the player can purchase - you guessed it - by depositing those bucks in their account through purchase with a credit card or other real payment source.
Just as the online gambling phenonenon has made real life difficult by draining players' bank accounts, so too can participation in virtual worlds affect an individual's real life bottom line.
Let the player beware, and as my daughter Julia and our friend Melina say, make good choices!