Maybe Buying Virtual Collectibles Isn’t the Big Joke We Thought It Was

I was trying to think of a prank or joke themed April Fool’s blog post that didn’t involve me spreading misinformation about a new coronavirus coming straight outta Compton just to turn it around at the end of the blog post and say that what I really meant was the numbers of the current coronavirus are really down and that the worst part of it all was that since no one reads this blog that it wouldn’t have been all that effective of a joke anyway. Or maybe I could have eulogized my recently deceased hedgehog just to reveal at the end of the post that the hedgehog has been dead all along and wasn’t even mine and that the worst part of it all is that since no one reads this blog, Nathan would just find it distasteful and I’d have to swear off trying to get him into bands he’s never heard of for a few months to atone for it.

Watch in amazement and/or boredom as Chris pitches Pulp to Nathan… because there’s nothing else to do.

Then I was relaxing and playing a little bit of the old AdVenture Capitalist to unwind after spending eight hours straight posting to eBay because I wanted to take advantage of the listings with no insertion fees for the month, and I put it of to the last week of the month. I needed to get some extra angel investors when I restarted my AdVenture Capitalist businesses, so I watched an ad. It was a real AdVenture. No, that doesn’t count as one of my four jokes per page. I’m just stating fact, yo.

I’ve got the brains, you’ve got the looks, let’s make lots of… I don’t suppose there’s any Pulp on this playlist… uh, uh, uh money.

The ad that came on was some game where you found monsters and collected them. I forget what it was called, but for my purposes here I’ll call it Pokemon GonAd. Yes, that one counts as one of my four jokes per page. Gene Wilder never implicitly stated that the jokes had to be funny… He probably meant that the jokes should be funny, huh? Damn it.

It was then that I thought about the mass of one man’s trash that I’m attempting to make another man’s treasure by selling it on eBay (I sold a book yesterday, so maybe it’s all worth it) that is cluttering my bedroom and my storage shed. I thought about the guy on the episode of “Hoarders” who had a barn built on his property to house his beer can collection. Then I thought about my collection of digital cards on Magic Online and compared it to my physical Magic card collection, also meant for eBay.

My Magic collection is amazing and/or boring! What? Solar flare? Where did I put those paper cards?

I remember that when Magic Online was new, it seemed odd to spend real money on cards that you couldn’t put into your real life deck on Friday night. It was pitched to me that the upside was that you could always find a game of Magic 24/7. You were really paying for the access to other players. Those players can’t help it that many of them were assholes who made playing online un-fun. That’s not one of my four jokes per page, but it’s also a blog post for another time. Besides, I don’t believe they have silver bordered cards on Magic Online.

When I used to play Farmville while watching American Idol, a combination of actions that should make me wonder what exactly I’ve done with my life, one of the things I would do is organize my farm to maximize crop and animal space while being able to also display some of my cool collectibles, the ones that I didn’t have to keep in the barn with my digital beer cans. I’m getting confusing. Let me reset.

I never spent real life money on Farmville. I would link to the blog post I wrote about never paying for freemium games, but I haven’t posted it yet. You could buy things with game money though, and I enjoyed that aspect of the game. If you go back and read some articles around that time, you’ll find that the video game industry and player base were simultaneously perplexed and awed by the fact that people were willing to pay real money for these digital collectibles though.

Another blog post that I’ve never posted discusses what I call intangible expenses. The basic idea is that once you get above the poverty line you have enough money that you can’t continue to buy physical items. You’d never be able to eat that much food. You would run out of space for all the junk eventually, as the weekly subjects of “Hoarders” all proved. It’s at that point that you spend money on intangible things. You buy a car that is as much a status symbol as a vehicle to get you from Point A to Point B. You go to music concerts to do your t-shirt shopping. And some people bought Mystery Boxes on Farmville hoping to get that Angora rabbit they always wanted. I so had to go to the Farmville Wiki to pull that rabbit out of my a… um, hat.

“Hell of a book. It’s about bunnies.”

So maybe these digital collectibles weren’t some big joke that we were at the a… um, at the hat end of. The simple fact is that in first world countries, most people can afford a few intangible expenses along the way. If that angora rabbit brings you a little bit of joy, then is it any less valid than owning a super cool cassette mat that Nathan bought you as a gift? I think not.

The angora rabbit might be harder to hang on the wall though… what? It’s a digital rabbit. Don’t look at me that way.

But when you visit your farm and you see that angora rabbit hanging out with the (let me go back to the Wiki) purple mane pony, if it brings a smile to your face that’s all that counts. More importantly, when you end up on “Hoarders” it’ll be more about the credit card debt you’ve hidden from your spouse to fund your Zynga addiction and less about shoveling out your maggot infested kitchen. I mean, unless they’re angora maggots. That might be kind of cool then. We’re talking the ultimate gag gift.

In much the same way that we buy a lot of our music on digital formats (when I say we, I mean all of you, as I’ve never bought an mp3) in order to house more music in less space. In much the same way that we buy books on tablet platforms (again, when I say we…) to save shelf space. Maybe there is something to doing some of your collecting in digital formats. If your house on Second Life (I’m presuming you have a house on Second Life (I’m presuming Second Life still exists)) gets cluttered then you can still have your in-laws over. They won’t like you any better, but they’ll at least comment on how clean your house is.

Happy April Fool’s Day. Go buy yourself something nice. Just make sure whatever you buy isn’t real. This isn’t Christmas after all. It’s a day of lies, deceits, and pranks. At the very least, the BS should come out of a virtual cow.

Chris McGinty is a blogger who does not like angora ham and is just now realizing that he should have worked in a joke about angora pigs into that somewhere. You know what’s funny? I actually did. If you go to the third paragraph and write down the fifth letter of every word with five or more letters in the rest of the blog post, you get to read the angora pig joke. I worked really hard on making this special code work, so if it doesn’t seem to be spelling anything at first just stick with it. It’ll work. I swear.

Chris McGinty is a blogger who was just crossing his fingers behind his back.

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