We've done a lot of posts about the popularity of gaming over the last decade. The video game industry has been bigger (from a revenue standpoint) than Hollywood for a few years now. Teen boys are most likely to be addicted gamers and have been known to play for hours on end.
This video came out a few weeks ago about a kid who played World of Warcraft for almost 5 years straight. The video is him deleting his profile, and every charter, virtual good and item that he gained during that period. It's well done and quickly went viral.
The game mentality is something that is extremely interesting - specifically around levels. Getting to the 'next level' breaks down your task into smaller chunks. You focus on one task, accomplish it and then move onto the next one (almost like episodes of a TV series). Where games get addictive is the quest for the next task, the next accomplishment and the next character. It's a form of storytelling that is extremely interesting, and addictive.
I remember as a kid playing Final Fantasy 6. At that time, the game kept track of the amount of time that a user spent. When, one day, I read that I'd spent 220 hours playing, I figured that it was about time I went outside. Not many games (as far as I can tell) actually put trackers in like this one - like Casino's with window's, if you know how long you've been playing, you might not care about getting to the next level.
Link here to the story.
I was reading a recent study on Mashable about research that was done into Twitter. It turns out that zero percent of people in the survey would be willing to actually pay for the service. Is this surprising?
To be honest, I'm not sure.
Over the last few weeks, I've been thinking a lot about the number of 'layers' in my own digital life. For example, every morning I wake up and open 6 tabs in about 3 seconds in Chrome - Gmail, Hotmail, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Reader. I then go through the tabs checking messages and what has happened - responding when I need to.
Then - and only then - I hit the normal information sites - news mostly (NY Times, HuffPo, Globe, BBC) and read any article that catches my eye.
And, of course, on the way to work I check my BlackBerry, continue reading on my iPad and check in when I'm extremely bored on Foursqure.
Question is, do I really need all of this stuff? And what would I actually pay to use these services?
Let's start with the ones I'm already on the fence with - Foursquare is out because I don't really care where people are and being the Mayor of my own house isn't cool. I also hate the Twitter feed integration and think that my stream would be a lot more interesting if people linked to content they liked vs. the Starbucks that they just entered.
If I had to pay for email, I'd ditch the Hotmail account. It was my first and I've had it for about 12 years but I could easily switch everything over to Gmail and be happy (although I do like keeping hotmail around for Spam related requests / new site tests).
So now we're down to four - Gmail, Reader, Facebook and Twitter.
To be honest, Twitter and my Reader do - somewhat - serve the same purpose. I use them both to curate the links that I get and to keep me updated. In a head to head battle, Reader loses to Twitter on this one - less functionality and ability to connect (no..I don't count Google Buzz as an advantage here)
Now, I realise that Gmail vs. Facebook vs. Twitter isn't really a fair comparison. Especially because on Facebook you can do so much more than the other two combined (ie. play games, post multiple types of content, send private messages, etc).
I love Gmail but have a work account so that could suffice (although I do like the idea of private emails). But for the sake of the post, Gmail is out.
That leaves the two hottest social networks right now. So what's my choice?
It would have to be Facebook. More content, better friends and less desire to continually post whatever it is I'm doing at the moment.
But if Facebook charged me, would I pay to use it?
I don't think so.
Let's take a best case scenario. A one-time annual fee for usage. Maybe $12 a year. I'd consider paying this if it meant no more targeted ads, strict privacy controls and limited application access to my data. But to just keep using the same old services? I don't think so.
The point is that in the age of free, what would you actually pay to continue to use? And if you wouldn't pay for a service, do you really need it?
Think about it another way. How much is your time worth? With the average Facebook user spending 30 minutes a day with the site, that's 210 minutes a week (3.5 hours). If you're on minimum wage at about $7/hour, you're spending about $25 a week to hang on the site.
Is it worth it?