Monday, March 28, 2011

RANT ALERT: Empire Avenue as Hell Realm

Empire Avenue is the Social Media Exchange, where you can buy and sell shares in any social media profile, meet new people, unlock Achievement badges, and earn boatloads of virtual cash by being active and social online! Buy shares in your friends, your followers, people with similar interests, brands you love, celebrities – anyone! All using a virtual currency and all for free! From Empire Avenue Site
Empire Avenue
My Brief Empire Avenue History

After a week of being lulled to sleep in the Asura Realm of Empire Avenue, I finally awakened to the dream like Siddhartha rising out of Kamala's bed.

Social Network games are a junk food pleasure; endless rows of bottomless bowls of lard-drenched frosted pork rinds. Too lazy to plow the soil of our subconscious, sow the seeds of creativity and feast upon its ripened fruit, we instead stuff our meaning-starved minds with the crackling crunch of gamified pseudo-achievement.

Empire Avenue's Borg-worthy game mechanics assimilate player activity across all social networks. It auto-tunes the rich analog harmonics of our expressive being into hyper-compressed bleeps of commodified metrics across tweets, blogs, FaceBook, YouTube and wherever feeds can travel.

Although Empire Avenue claims to promote "value-based relationships" it rewards social network activity without regard for value delivered. Buy/Sell announcements pollute our shared stream along with unknown hordes of badge-motivated missives of mundane mediocrity.

So although it was fun while my obliviousness lasted, I decided that the free pleasures of Empire Avenue aren't worth the cost. I've deleted my account and shall play no more.


R. said...

I got the CEO title of Virtual Reality.
I made a million.
I got to tell author David Brin that I like his books.

I figure that's enough, right?


Botgirl Questi said...

I labeled the post a rant because I exaggerated my concerns. But I did bail out for the general reasons I mentioned.

To me, even the relatively small amount of time I paid attention to Empire Avenue ended up being a distraction from other pursuits that were of greater value. Any pleasure I got from my stock going up or rising in the ranks was the kind of empty ego-based illusion I work to overcome. And I'm philosophically against games that encourage people to junk up the social network stream.

It was fun. For me, it wasn't worth it. But of course, I wasn't the CEO Millionaire. :)

Indigo Mertel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Indigo Mertel said...

Ah! That's why there is a 10EA dip in my portfolio value... (snicker)

Isabeal Jupiter said...

I like you more and more every day.

sororNishi said...

Your second paragraph...."Social Network games are a junk food pleasure...etc etc.." is very astute and concise analysis.

I play none.

Indigo Mertel said...

Hmmm... this is a blog post I won't tweet about. I already lost two shareholders... LOL!

Botgirl Questi said...

Isabeal: Thanks! You help offset those who hate me more every day. ;)

Soror: I usually don't play them either. I'm not sure what moved me to try EA initially. Probably because so many people in my Twitter stream seemed to be enjoying it.

Indigo: Ha. That's my point. EA has an impact on your social networking behavior that isn't necessarily in the best interests of your stream.

Indigo Mertel said...

My comment was light-hearted, BotGirl. Yes, EA is a time-sucker, but so are the bunch of other socially related things I do. It's a game, it's funny, it's also a bit silly. It does have an effect on networking with other people, my twitter followers count had a jump since I have joined EA. Maybe it has to do with the fact that while people play the game they also find some information about the user? I think so. That's my target after all, promoting what I do.

I don't care much about social games, never joined any. I enjoy EA because with all its silliness it provides some information. I am careful not to spam my stream with silly messages. And while I would not tweet about your post, I don't tweet about posts in favor of EA either... ;)

Indigo Mertel said...

There... I have RTed you just to prove you wrong... :P

But, if I lose more shareholders I'll be looking for you :)

Botgirl Questi said...

Indigo: Thank you! It will be interesting to see what EA evolves into. One cool thing for me was that it was a new social networking space where avatar identities were extending and interacting with those under human identities.

Moggs Oceanlane said...

Yup, I know it's for fun... but the idea makes me shudder. Buying and selling friends and family as commodities. I thought we were all against such things these days. *waves protest flag* and continues to resist invitations to join. Guess somethings just ain't for me.

Miso Susanowa said...

LOL - 'Commodity' was a comment on this type of game...

@Crap - ok, David Brin, +2pts. Perhaps you are not such a tool of the Fetid Outer Core as I previously believed.

Botgirl Questi said...

I'm not opposed to the idea of metrics to track people's value to their social networks. Services like Klout and TwitterGrader are far from perfect, but at least they seem to be genuinely trying.

But I don't think that EAv is authentically moving in that direction. If it was, they probably wouldn't encourage people to place adds promoting their "stock". And they wouldn't give you points for posting six times to Twitter and Facebook about your gaming activity.

Another problem I have with Empire Avenue is that its "magic circle" doesn't have boundaries of time or virtual place. So although on one hand, there's no harm done selling shares of yourself in a game, since EAv attempts to pervade all of your social network activity, the game logic leeches out into the wider virtual world.

I'm not saying there's any real harm done at this point, but it's a good time to think about how we want to draw the line between private/social, personal/commercial, identity/brand, communication/promotion, etc.