What’s The Points?

Guru hard at work.

Guru hard at work.

The computer screen told the story. A weather system, shown as a menacing blob of glowing crimson on the screen, was bearing down on us and about to engulf the whole damn island. Isla Nublar was really in for it. Gale force winds, 40 foot swells, the whole nine yards.

Communications were already out.

The control room shook as horizontal rain punished the windows creating enough background noise to decidedly get on my nerves. I took a moment to glance out the window. The tropical trees were whipping in the wind like piñatas under a baseball bat.

It was up to me.

I realized a voice was coming out of the high-tech radio I held in my hand. “Sqwk! Say again, say again, we are pinned down. No way out. Request immediate EVAC. Do you copy? Over. Sqwk!

Sending out the chopper in these conditions would almost certainly be suicide. Yet there stood the flight crew, having already volunteered, now impatiently awaiting my decision. Risk three lives to save eight? I could barely comprehend the mathematics that involved.

The weather display was blinking now. It has just been updated with the name of the storm which was now closer than ever. “Fiona” they were calling in. Wow, I thought. They named the storm. That’s extremely useful information.

“Clever girl,” I said without realizing I was saying out loud.

Time was growing short. It was do or die. This command decision had to be made so I could triage the next looming disaster only seconds away.

“Send ’em out,” I ordered. I keyed the mic. “Help is on the way. Out.”

Ding! A message announced its arrival. It was welcome news. I had just earned two mPoints for sending out the chopper. And this was only the beginning of what was about to become a very eventful day.

“mPoints,” I grumbled. “What the hell are those?”

I’ve been playing this game on my iPad called Jurassic Park Builder. It’s one of those idiotic Farmville-style games made for suckers (like me) where you place buildings, go on missions, search for dino DNA in amber, and build your very own dinosaur-themed amusement park. As in most of these games, you have to wait a certain period of time for tasks to complete. Or you can pay real money to make them instantaneous.

I’m not ashamed to admit the shame of being shamed by admitting I play the damn thing. But at least I’ve never paid them one red cent of real money.

Recently, though, after an update, came a twist. Something called mPoints. Apparently, just by playing the game, I was earning and accumulating these unknown wee beasties. And the whole points system was seamlessly integrated right into the game. How thoughtful.

Things like sending out the chopper or the submarine were earning me an exciting two points each. Twice a day. That’s potentially eight points a day!

But what are they good for I asked myself.

It turns out that if one can accumulate 100 of these points they can be invested in drawings to maybe win stuff like a $100 Walmart gift card or a $25 gift card to Restaurant.com. I have no idea what I could do with the latter and nowhere do they seem to discuss the odds. I assume they are small.

In addition to the Sweepstakes area is a Store. Here you can apparently redeem mPoints for real stuff like this:

  • $10 iTunes Gift Card: 25,000 m
  • Google Chromecast: 87,500 m
  • Apple TV: 237,500 m
  • Kindle Fire HD Tablet: 422,500 m

I decided to do the math. I used the Apple TV for my calculations and assumed it has a value of $99 with free shipping. Based on that, how much are the mPoints worth?

It turns out that 1 mPoint = $0.00042. I shit you not. You might think this is my ongoing “42” gag again but it’s not. That’s the real result of the calculation.

To put it another way, it takes 24 mPoints to earn a single penny. Good thing they didn’t offer this when Benjamin Franklin was around. Or 240 to earn a dime. A whopping 2,400 mPoints is worth about one dollar.

I’ve been playing for a couple weeks now and have about 700 points. That’s about 50 points a day. At that rate the Kindle Fire HD Tablet will be mine – all mine – in approx. 23.2 years. Of course, by then, I’ll have the arthritis and the rheumatoids and won’t be able to use the damn thing, but I’m sure it’ll still be so much fun!

I believe I read somewhere that if you put your nose to the grindstone, bear down, and spend all of your life collecting mPoints, you can accumulate up to 1,000 mPoints a day. If I could do that, then the Kindle Fire HD Tablet would be mine in only 1.2 years.

Of course, depending on how long it actually takes to earn those points that would be like working for a wage of 41 cents an hour. That’s assuming anyone could earn the points in only an hour, which I highly doubt is even possible.

I’ve weighed all the factors. I have to make a command decision, and I’ve optimistically decided to go for it. This is no doubt the best possible use of my limited, finite time on this planet. And isn’t that the mPoint? I’m all in!

After all, risk is my game.

7 responses

  1. Hahahah…Yeah, that’s gonna take a while. I spend an embarrassing amount of time playing Scramble on my phone. I don’t even get points.

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    1. Yeah, I’m a little insulted they actually seem to think I’ll use their fabulous system for 23.2 years. That seems like a bit of a stretch.

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  2. Yow. That’s crazy.

    I find it amazing how many people get addicted to those games, but it’s a great example of the Sunk Cost Fallacy in action. I tried SimCity when if first came out and thought it was really a clever idea, but I’ve never been much of a gamer outside of things like scrabble.

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    1. A good game, like a good movie, fuels your imagination to the point that it’s like an out-of-body experience. It’s immersive. The “in-app purchase” is the most powerful force ever conceived to combat that feeling. It’s state-of-the-art.

      The theory of game design (not to be confused with game theory) is actually a fascinating topic. What’s the proper balance that makes a game fun? In the old days you’d pay a set price for a game. Ex: Super Mario Bros. in today’s money would cost about $50 – $80. That was it. The game stood on it’s own from that point on.

      These days gamers tend to talk about games in terms of hours taken to beat the thing. If it only takes two hours the game is sneered at.

      I agree with you about the OCD-driven paradigm of addicition-based games. Games used to be about fun and experience. Now they are about the extraction of ye olde wallet. Somehow that makes the games feel less “fun.” And I thought that was the purpose of games.

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      1. I hate to be all “back in the old days” nostalgic, because I’m sure the Atari guys were trying to sell as many Pong consoles as they could, but I think when games tipped the scales into global sales in the BILLIONS and something could be “the next BIG thing” rather than “a good seller”, the drive changed.

        My last gaming time in my life was when I was in grad school. A friend had a SEGA (I think it was a SEGA) and we Zelda’d and Mario’d away our stress at times. That was fun.

        We tried the Wii — and I thought it was also fun and clever — but it never took hold on me. The super-complicated shoot-em-ups or adventure games make me tired at the thought. #old

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  3. Looking up specs for said Kindle and came across your thoughts…definitely started with same mindset. Sadly, I do spend about an accumulate hour daily on earning(max 15 mins)/redeeming these seemingly insignificant little points but after 6 wks, paid for my son’s new S4 for Xmas using gc’s from them so figured why not. Since then, got $150+ in gc’s and still sitting on 600k for more and maybe that Kindle…not advocating but thought I’d share 🙂

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    1. Thanks for the info. Some points are obviously worth more than others. Grats on your payoff. 🙂

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