Saturday, February 28, 2009

Virtual Pan-handling

One of the main reasons I play ourWorld is to experience the game as typical players experience it. When I play ourWorld, I do so as a regular player, with a regular membership. Nothing more or less than any other member with a paid subscription would have.

One of my policies has been to accept all friend invitations. I don't want to miss out knowing somebody who I really want to know. Unfortunately, that's not how it really works. Too many friends essentially eliminates friends as a useful tool. They're just random names on a 1000-strong list, and I still only know a couple dozen as 'real' online friends.

While my account is no different than any other, I do use it for a few official functions. When players win ourWorld Contests, I use my account to award the prize codes. An unfortunate side effect of issuing these codes with my main account is now people think it's okay to ask me for free coupons and Gems (ourWorld currency, normally only available for real money.)

I could handle one or two people a day asking for free stuff, and then taking no for an answer. Unfortunately, since awarding the contest prizes, I now get lots of people asking repeatedly. So many requests that it's sapping the enjoyment out of playing ourWorld, and that is intolerable.

My solution is semi-harsh, but I plan to stick to it. Players get one free pass. Ask me for free stuff (or give me a sob story about how you can't afford anything, which is worse) and you get one warning. Ask me again, and you're off my friends list.

From a purely pragmatic standpoint, players panhandling for free stuff are not the players who are ponying up their credit cards and purchasing memberships and virtual currency. That means my friendship is based on how actually friendly they are. Most of the ourWorld friends I talk to regularly are very nice and I don't care if they are members or not. Even huge sites like Club Penquin only have about 5% paying members. That said, if you're a high maintenance user, bugging me daily, you might consider making a purchase. I will happily contribute to a relationship based on social niceties. I will happily contribute to a relationship based on an customer/provider relationship. While its hard to mix the two, I think I do a good job with friends who are also customers as well. Bring nothing to the table, and I don't think it hurts me or ourWorld much to remove you from my friends list. That's all I'm saying.


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