I have been playing a game on Facebook called Mob Wars. In the game you are cast as a mobster (whom you are allowed to name - I am of course Mick Gateau) and the object is to commit crimes and buy weapons and property and basically move up the mob rankings. I started playing Mob Wars because a lot of people at my most recent work were into it and I thought it would be a good thing fitting-in-wise if I got into it too. (Imagined conversation: "Hey Tim! Nice going on Mob Wars last night!" "Thanks, [co-worker]. Nice going by you, too!" "Thanks!" "No worries!" "Man, even though you've only just started here, we're already getting along so well, and it's all thanks to Mob Wars!" "Let's be best friends!" "Ok!") Then I quit that job, but for some reason I didn't quit Mob Wars, which is strange because Mob Wars, deprived of its social lubrication role, is a waste of time.
Mob Wars takes the things that make the Grand Theft Auto games fun - shooting people, driving getaway cars, shooting more people - and replaces them with clicking on buttons. Let's say there's a mission in GTA that involves smuggling liquor. You will probably be required to drive around town to various locations, secure an appropriate vehicle, maybe shoot some people, drive to the pick-up location, collect the booze, drive it to its destination, and so on, all the while trying to avoid being arrested or killed. You might get involved in a high-speed car chase, or you might be ambushed by rival gangsters, or whatever. The point is that it requires time and effort to complete the mission, time and effort that is repaid by the sheer fun of playing the game and the satisfaction of completing the mission. Now let's say there's a similar mission in Mob Wars. You will be required to point your mouse cursor at the button labelled "Smuggle Liquor", click said button, and...that's it. Mission accomplished! Here's your reward, now wait an hour while your energy levels recover and you can click again!
The thing that kept me playing this futile and non-fun game was the cumulative nature of its "rewards". You start off scrounging together funds to buy basic weapons and properties but after a week or so you start raking in serious cash which you can use to buy better weapons and properties, and also to pay for hits on rival mobsters. Of course once I moved into these higher levels it became obvious that it was just as unsatisfying to click a button labelled "Place the hit" as it had been to click on a button labelled "Commit mugging". Who'd have thought? Well, not me, apparently.
Anyway, I have removed Mob Wars from my profile and I will now go back to ignoring Facebook. Somebody please let me know if there's ever anything worth doing on there.*
*Obviously there's Scrabulous, the crack-like Scrabble knock-off. I went cold turkey six months ago after a night spent dreaming about triple word scores and I ain't going back.