Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Materialism on AJ

A while ago out of general curiosity, I looked up some parent reviews of Animal Jam. 


Surprisingly to me, many of the reviews were negative. The majority were just "oh this is so addictive it turned my child into a pixel-starved zombie" which can be true to some degree, but then I found one that really stuck with me:

It was about three or five paragraphs long. At first it talked about the many great things about Animal Jam– no ads, how being a nonmember is okay, and how great it is that National Geographic implemented all sorts of learning into the game. However, the one big thing this reviewer did not like their kid learning was what the AJ community introduced to them right off the bat: 

Materialism.

For those who don't know this word, materialism is basically an unhealthy obsession with items. At the time, I read this and just thought "Haha, MATERIALISM! My beloved Animal Jam would NEVER do such a thing!" and I kind of forgot about reading that review.

As my years of playing this game went on, I started thinking about what I had read more and more. Don't pretend that scamming and hacking hasn't gone up since the past year– it's literally all around you. People "trusting" and "flashing" left and right, people making new accounts and dressing them up like fman122 just to scare others... people being so obsessed with acquiring rare items that they'd use literally illegal methods to hack little kids' accounts and hoard the items like candy from a piƱata. It's sickening and disappointing how far people go for mere pixels. 

Yeah, that's right. They're just pixels.

People are risking jail time using illegal hacking software for pixels.

Pixels.

Pixels. 

PIXELS.

When I say stuff like this, some people who got their rare items fairly criticize me of trashing their love for them. This is just a disclaimer that I am not doing that– it's OKAY to like trading as long as you don't hurt others to get what you want. 

Then again, it's important for everyone to look at their own behavior. Even if you don't scam or hack, I want everyone to take a step back for a moment and ask yourselves some questions and answer honestly in your head:

Why do I collect items? What do they mean to me?

When I play Animal Jam, what do I think about most?

If I lose interest in AJ and in a long time look back on my time spent in Jamaa, how will I feel about it? Will I be glad that I spent so much time collecting items?

And most importantly:

Does what I value on Animal Jam carry into real life?

For anyone who's played Animal Jam for at least a year, this game has changed you in real life. Have these changes been positive? Have these changes been negative? Just pull back and ask yourself that for a minute. Maybe you won't notice them immediately, but they're there.

Not making generalizations, but I've found that a lot of Jammers I've met who trade a lot and coat their animals in rares are the same people who talk a lot about their stuff. iPhones, MacBooks, clothes, cars, and other expensive objects are frequent conversational topics.

On the flip side, people who collect rares could also be using Animal Jam to get the stuff that they can't have in real life. Offline, your parents could be strict and you could feel left out when your real life friends are always showing off their expensive devices. You're told every day by advertisements and the people you're around that MORE IS BETTER and that if you don't give in and buy some products, you're socially doomed. You could be using pixel items to feel like you fit, like you belong in the materialistic outside world. That's very sad, but very understandable.

The point is that everything you say or do shapes how you are as a person, online or offline. If you manipulate people into giving you things online, you're just as awful and selfish offline. It doesn't matter if you're a scammer or a hacker and a screen and a million miles are separating you and the person you're stealing from. 

It doesn't matter if these items are just pixels if you knew just how sad and horrified the person you hacked would feel. It doesn't matter if they're just pixels if you took them away.

In that case, the person who's materialistic is you, the hacker. The scammer. The person who wasted time out of their day to illegally steal pixels from a little kid.

Hackers and scammers aren't cool or hardcore. They aren't underdogs or antiheroes or anything to be admired in the least. They're literally just greasy teenagers sitting in their mom's basement eating cold nachos, listening to bad dubstep and snickering quietly to themselves about how cool they think they are for taking candy from a baby. 

Of all the cool and amazing things the internet age gives us access to, you requested illegal access to an innocent kid's pixel toy on a website meant for 8 to 12 year olds. All to see them do crying emotes while you stuff another greasy nacho in your mouth. Pretty hardcore and cool, huh?

It's sad that hacking, scamming, and even stalking has become unavoidable on such a wonderful game. I believe this game separated from the item-hoarding community is in essence adorable and positive and absolutely wondrous. It's important to know that all this game's positive characteristics are still here, and have always been here. 

Through all the scams and the hacker-scares, 

through every Jammer who just wouldn't leave you alone, 

through every time you lost an item, 

through every time you lost a friend

Jamaa is still here. Still here in all it's innocent fun that it had when you first joined. It's here waiting to welcome you when you come back.

Thank you for reading, and I'm planning on playing Animal Jam and starting back up to make full update posts tomorrow.

– DoomyPanda

4 comments:

  1. This is a very, very true post, Doomy. I have noticed tons of people who are get scammed and hacked. It is crazy. I for one, like getting SOME rares but not by hacking. I like working to get them. ;) It is a challenge that I love. The only rare I am trying to get is Nerd Glasses. I don't want spikes or anything. Doomy, you made a really good point. I wish people would stop stealing. :( Hackers and scammers are just plain lazy. They don't try to get the items by being fair. They do something TOTALLY illegal for some silly ONLINE thing that won't do anything in the real world. Thanks Doomy for this amazing post. I hope people will understand now that AJ is just PIXELS...
    -lostfairy

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  2. Those are some very true points! Can't wait to start reading your posts again:)

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  3. Wow... That was deep and... Oddly uplifting. Man, I'd say it even brings back all my old memories from 2012. That was beautiful, Doomy. This is exactly why I return to your blog every day. <3

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