I should have known the first time I realized there was a levelling system involved in Steam’s new Trading Cards system that eventually it would get its insidious hooks into me. But I wasn’t truly lost until it chanced upon my brain that the cards and boosters themselves were dropping like loot when I played games.
Last year Valve got some press for hiring a respected economist to come work for them on virtual economies, and I have to imagine that what we’re seeing is a direct result of his devious work. The method to the madness — the pure, manipulative gaming of this rigged system that makes me want to beat it all the more — is clearly the handiwork of several evil geniuses working in an unholy alliance.
Even as I collect cards and trade them around like childish stocks on a virtual exchange, I know that the best possible solution is to stop and back away slowly. But that’s just the thing: The card game isn’t one you can just walk away from. The drug pusher isn’t out on some corner waiting for you to walk by scratching your arms, shivering and with a dead look in your eye. No, he’s in the room with you. You just play your games like normal, and you turn around to realize you have cocaine in your pocket.
“Don’t worry, dog. I’ll just put this Chell trading card right here in your Steam Inventory all for free and everything. You deserve it just for playing Portal 2. G’on, treat yourself.” And there, almost against your will, you have this … thing. And, what’re you going to do, just let it sit there? No. No, that won’t stand at all.