You’ve heard of this Swagbucks thing, haven’t you? It seems like I know quite a few people into it, including my secretary and my wife. Basically, it’s a program where you spend a lot of time looking at ads, take surveys, use their search engine, play games and do a billion other weird activities to earn the titular Swagbucks, which can then be exchanged for real-world prizes.
I tried it several months ago and decided that the time-to-reward ratio was pretty skewed — it takes a long while to get any measurable amount of Swagbucks, and you’re not getting something for nothing here, since you’re putting yourself in the front seat of a marketer’s circus. Considering that my wife uses her points toward $5 Amazon gift cards and it takes her between two to five hours to earn that many points, she’s basically taken on a very crappy part-time job for far less than minimum wage.
Even so, she enjoys doing it and derives some pleasure from accruing “free” goodies, so I leave her alone. If it’s relaxing and fun for her, who am I to take that away?
I’m a little wary about marketers getting too much information about us, but she swears that she uses fake info and email addresses (although that’s only a stopgap measure). After doing a little research on it, it seems on the up and up, and there’s even a social aspect to it, as Swagbuckers (Swagbuccanears?) collaborate on Facebook and blogs to share point codes and strategies.
I mention all this because I found myself laughing while playing LOTRO last night and realized that I am, in a way, doing some of the same things. LOTRO’s fairly unique in MMO space for letting you “earn” Turbine Points — which have real-world dollar value — through play. Unless you’re a very poor person trying to get TP to unlock content, I don’t think most folks play with TP gain as the primary goal, but it is a nice bonus, particularly if you play multiple characters.
I should start keeping track, but I know that in the past week I’ve earned around 100 TP for doing what I’d normally be doing anyway in the game — 5, 10 or 15 points for various deeds. Since we have additional cosmetic slots and an expanded mapping system coming up for sale in the next update, I’ll need all I can get, so every little bit is nice. I just found it amusing that in our own way, both my wife and I are doing the same thing: gaming and getting paid for it.