Real life pay-to-not-play

July 13, 2021, – 100 days to offload countdown #80

Wer freitags morgens in der S-Bahn fährt, weiß warum wir aussterben müssen —Razzia, Stahlherz1

I never understood the appeal of things like the 'all there is to find in the game'-chest one could buy for an obscene amount of money in one of the assassins creed games. It eludes me what makes people buy a game and then pay even more money to not having to play it. To me it would be a hollow, shameful thing to brag about achievemnts I actually didn't make – all the more if it is about something as unsubstantial as a video game. You wouldn't brag about having seen all harry potter movies, while in fact you paid someone to watch them and give you a quick assessment "of all the fuss".

A new height of this nonsense is reached in real life. In the german low mountain range Harz – the highest peak there is 'Der Brocken' ('The Hulk') with about 1141 meters – there is a vast network of hiking trails. As a marketing tool and a way to gameify the exploration of the region by tourists, they put around 250 stamp stations all over the region - numbered sturdy green wooden boxes with numbered stamp and stamp-pad; in every tourist office you can get scrapbooks with places for every stamp and bronze, silver and gold pins if you manage to visit a given amount of different places - with the evidence of the stamps in your scrapbook. It can be a lot of fun to search for the boxes with your kid(s). And it's an incentive to visit places you might not have otherwise, and there is a lot to discover – beautiful nature, interesting historic sites like castles and silver pits – with the ongoing draught and the large parts of dying spruce, maybe not this summer.

And now there is a thriving online business selling fake filled scrapbooks. The whole point of the stamps is what you experience searching for them and the memories you make – you can brag about having the 'Trail Emperor'-pin, but you cannot talk with someone who actually visited and gathered some of the stamps. Just like you cannot talk with someone who actually fought for and found an item in-game if you just bought it. You miss the most important part of the whole thing.

I get the instant gratification part that maybe is the basis of some of this behaviour, even if I think one should grow up enough not to waste money like that, but the bragging-rights motivation - the lying to yourself and others about something as inconsequential as a video game or recreational activity, is beyond me.

Footnotes:

1

Taking the underground on friday mornings, you know why we have to become extinct