It was roughly a year ago I got into it. A world of violence and crime, robbing and killing. I made new friends, who helped me to expand my activities, but a lost few, who could not tolerate it. It was fun while it lasted. Like all good things, it had to come to an end. So today, I obliterated my criminal associates, and claimed back my life.
Rather my facebook page, from complete strangers I added to play Mafia Wars. But facebook is life, right?
I never liked virtual games much. In the early MS-DOS days, I liked playing this game called paratrooper, where you had to protect your anti aircraft gun from a continuous flow of air dropped enemy fighters, wonder how many of us remember it? Games came and games went, but most were either too involved, or needed extremely quick reflexes, and I sorely lacked the patience. And at a deeper level, I realized losing against faceless machines made me depressed, while winning did not bring any great joy. Wins count only when someone right here is actually humiliated and bloodied, not when a little popup on screen says you won. No wonder I never developed a taste for online gaming too.
Racing games were slightly better, where I competed with myself. I actually liked them for a while, trying not to finish at the dead last position was surely a challenge. I gained a firsthand idea about how hard it is to drive around a F1 circuit. And I first got introduced to the gorgeous pacific coast highway via Need For Speed, and the curves did seem that treacherous when I first did the drive years later.
So, I was skeptical when I signed up for Mafia Wars. Make no mistakes, it is not a role playing game, no matter what the name and the actions suggest. It is purely a strategy game, where you have to optimally use your resources. That is the aspect which got me hooked, although the part where I had to add hundreds of strangers in my facebook profile was a bit disconcerting, But, as the popular saying goes - there is no such thing as a free game, and the developers simply wanted to expand their business. I can not really fault them for doing that.
It did not really require fast reflex, well not much anyway. But it needed one to login often, as time was effectively the currency in the game. So for almost a year, no matter where ever I were, I would go online and keep up with the game. I tried to time my gameplay so that I do not lose much when I slept, or took a train or flew. I had to turn on my laptop sitting in workshops and meetings, to makes sure I do not l miss anything, and then I would see the guy sitting in front of me is doing the same. Mafia Wars did become a phenomenon, with every other person you know on facebook seemed to be playing it, and spamming your wall with meaningless posts. There were online forums, with veterans and newbies discussing strategies and rumor, I made sure I did not miss any discussion. I liked the social aspect of the game, knowing that you are dealing with real imperfect human beings made the game not just a game, but more part of a lifestyle. If I played it anymore, I could almost have claimed it to be my profession.
Well, eventually the inevitable happened. Work caught up, and my continuous traveling meant the game had to take a backseat. And to "popularize" it even more, the developers introduced new features, which made the gameplay more and more dependent on others. And just like that, I grew out of it.
Being part of the imaginary mafia was fun though. Certainly more fun than growing virtual crop in virtual farms.