There is a relatively new phenomena in games that confuses and at times, outright enrages me. These games are based off a previous games that mostly predated the internet. These pre internet games had a few options that these web only games don’t have and I wish they’d bring back.
A little history, my father always insisted that knowing computers was important. So, I’ve been around them from a very early age. I don’t remember the age he bought SimFarm, but I do remember that for a while, unlike its counterpart SimCity, it was my favorite game. You got to build things and earn money! (There is some sort of research out there that explains why humans like numbers increasing so much, it is why idle games are popular.) As I grew up, I got into the city building games of Caesar (over Civilization) and I don’t remember exactly what happened, if I saved my allowance or if it was a gift (I think I saved for it) but I eventually got the Star Craft battle chest. And when I went to college, I was the girl who got invited to the LAN parties in the computer lab or over the computer network as my friends and I duked it out over Star Craft, War Craft and Command & Conquer: Red Alert.
Not that I was very good at this mind you. You see, I would get in my corner and gather resources and research SCIENCE and hunker down behind my bunkers and tanks instead of ruthlessly building miner dudes, finding more resources, building more miner dudes and building lots of flamethrower units. “Flamin’!” This barricade strategy tended to work pretty well, if no one found me. See, to attack others wasn’t ever the reason I played the game. I wanted to research SCIENCE, watch my resources increase, and take out zerglings. Like I said, not exactly the best when it came to LAN wars.
Fast forward to the future, these types of games are still rather popular and to make matters interesting, they’ve made them “free” to play. The way they make money off these games is that you can use real world money to buy perks and resources. You can register at games like Dragons of Atlantis, Nords: Heroes of the North, Forge of Empires and I lose track of the names and gather resources, research science, increase the size of your village and troops, take on the computer AI enemy and… oh… go raid every other player around you no matter what level they are and take their resources.
This is when I rage. I like these types of games. There is a computer controlled enemy for everyone to fight. There are systems in place so different players of different levels have different resource abilities and troop quotas. In a lot of these games there are special types of units you can build and research, Dragons of Atlantis for example, has dragons. There is nothing more infuriating than logging off the game to go to bed and coming back in the morning to find your city raided by a person who is three times your level and has min maxed the system and you wouldn’t have been able to fend off anyways and now you’re out of resources because instead of coming once and leaving you be when they realized you were off for the night, they came again and again and again, until there was nothing left.
This folks is called bullying.
I don’t care if you call it a “war game.” When someone repeatedly attacks another player who is lower than their level and literally can’t defend themselves from attack, this is bullying. There is absolutely no call for it. I’m not talking about a level five attacking a level four here. That’s fine. They’re probably on close to level footing. I’m talking about a level fifteen coming in and attacking a level two player.
When you don’t have systems in place to keep lower level players from being attacked by higher level players there is an incredible imbalance in the system and means you are going to lose more and more players and potential players as word gets around that the game system is toxic. These games are not self-sustaining. The only ones who get ahead in these games are the ones who hear about a new game coming out early, get in on it and build up their resources and troops fast enough that they become the new bullies. There were hundreds of cities, hundreds of them on the maps that never changed beyond level 2 because higher level players would repeatedly come in, wipe their troops out, take their resources and that player would abandon the game.
The developers of these games seem to get this, because these games they clone over and over giving them different skins but essentially the exact same mechanics. When instead of cloning them, if they’d put the proper systems and level guards in the first place, they’d have a lot more players who would be willing to pay them money to sustain the game. Instead, they have a system that is easily abused.
Look, war games can be fun. Remember what I said about LAN games. I wasn’t great at them, but I was having fun with my friends. The thing about LAN games was the player had the option of play with others and you all started out with the same things for the same amount of time. On these new ‘war games’ sure, you have an option, your option is to either play them or not play them. There is no way for you to sit in a corner or on a Player Versus Environment server and play out the story against the computer controlled villain if you want to. You have no choice but to set up your city and prepare to be attacked at every turn. Taking this option away, takes away potential players from kids as young as I was when I first started playing SimFarm, to adults who just want to relax and not worry about being beat up by other players.
Hey, I want to just raise baby dragons and find their armor and maybe get a bunch of minotaurs to defend my city! No. I don’t want to play Farmville. I want to raise dragons. (What part of this is so hard to understand? Why is there this divide? Why do the ‘war game’ bullying kids get the cool stuff? Give me a farm game with dragons, damn it!)
And the way these games are advertised, such as Dragons of Atlantis or Nords, especially Nords, it is not inherently obvious when your first get into them, that they are player versus player based rather than player versus environment based. I shouldn’t have to dig into the forum and ‘about the game’ to figure out that this is not really player versus the computer, but player versus player. This is wrong.
My confusion sets in because I cannot for the life of me figure out how some of these games are still going and why the people who continue to play them, like them. The attitude I have received when, as a concerned player who is a potential source of income, have pointed this out in the terms of “could we make this more strategic, please aka level attack brackets or PvE maps” is mind boggling. You’d think I’m taking away their candy and telling them to go to bed. How is raiding anyone who can’t defend themselves against you in any way fun? If it is a strategy “war” game, then bully raiding isn’t really a strategy at all! Just the path with the course of least resistance. It is like these games just bring out the worst in some people.
I back away slowly.
Calling me a wimp and saying I don’t understand the point of the game, doesn’t change the facts. Bullying is wrong. These games are toxic. The internet doesn’t give anybody the right to be an asshole. These type of “Free” games have lost me as a player.
No matter much I want to raise dragons!