ESPNU College Town : The Addiction
Damn you ESPN. After falling victim to far too many gaming addictions over the years, I had successfully navigated the cesspool that is Facebook, only to be snared by a commercial running during my beloved SportsCenter. The game I speak of is ESPNU College Town, which has recently launched. Think “Sim City” or “Roller Coaster Tycoon” but the goal is to create a successful college campus. Okay, really it’s probably more similar to Farmville, but I haven’t actually played that game, so I’m going to go with much more dated references.
So there I am catching up on the news, doing site research and such (I call it work, and the wife hasn’t figured it out yet) and a commercial comes on my television. “Be the Dean” it says, or something to that effect. Hmmm, a new sports computer game on Facebook sponsored by ESPN? ‘This seems like a fairly interesting topic for a future article’, I think to myself. And boom, like that, I have a new addiction. Three fucking hours later, I’ve come to the conclusion that I knew before I started, I need to turn this shit off before it’s too late.
Jim Caple recently wrote about this new game on his Page 2 column (I’m sure the topic for the column was totally of his own choosing) :
ESPNU College Town, a new social game created in collaboration with Disney-owned Playdom, Inc., launched Sept. 27 on Facebook. Facebook users can play the game at: http://apps.facebook.com/espnucollegetown/.
ESPN’s new social game in a nutshell:
- Build and run your own virtual campus, including athletic programs, stadiums, academic buildings, dorms, Greek row, etc.
- Compete head to head against friends with fictitious athlete sports cards.
- Showcase assets from 75 top schools, including authentic stadiums, buildings, landmarks and mascots.
- ESPNU College Town is free to play on Facebook, with premium upgrades available via micro-transactions.
Pure genius, and Pure EVIL. Now the screen-shot above came from the ESPN article, because my campus isn’t nearly as developed as Caple’s apparently. Dude must have all kinds of free time. Level 28? Fuck him. Below is a screen-shot of my weak-ass school, created purely for the purposes of this article, I swear. Once I am done writing, I will figure out how to delete this plague from my Facebook account before I lose anymore of my life. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Below are a few observations, as numbered in the image above. Some of the terms I use may not be accurate to the actual game. I don’t care enough to actually look up what everything is called:
- My student population is evidently bored. I’m told it’s because I need to add more academic buildings and landscaping. I build a sub shop and a music store, and it has no effect. After about an hour I figure out -I didn’t actually go through the tutorial- that your student population should essentially be paced by “Spirit Points”. Spirit points are gained when you build or upgrade academic buildings, or place various landscaping around your campus. So the way to keep the student body happy is to build a new wing on the Math department? What kind of bullshit is that? The entertainment buildings (food, shopping, etc.) only serve to make you small amounts of cash, and do nothing to boost up your spirit points. Have the makers of this game even been to college?
- That’s a Monster Fucking Truck Rally. My school has 500 students, but apparently it can host Monster Truck Rallies and make mad cash. I quickly discovered the best way to make money in this game is through the venues (Football Stadium, Arena, etc.) There you can host games, or other events, and you can pretty much keep the venue running around the clock, and pocket cash, even if you don’t have anyone attending your school. From what I can tell, I didn’t really receive money for having more students attending the school (except when I advanced levels I guess), or having an award-winning engineering department, but rather when I hosted events. Having a big Football stadium is pretty much the only way you can earn money, so that you have it to spend on building that new wing on the Math building. Lesson learned.
- Theater pays more than Basketball. My school has the option of running JV or Varsity sporting events, but is not a Division I, II, or III school yet. So among the options of events I can run at my venues are things such as Dog shows and theatrical performances. They pay me much more than the sporting events currently (although take longer to make the money) so once I discovered that, I jettisoned my sports program and went liberal arts for now. Well, Liberal Arts with a minor in Monster Trucks.
- Multiple venues = More Cash! At some point I advanced to the point that I could build a second basketball court, and now I can run two dog shows at once, if I so choose. The fact that I have 500 students on campus and the venues are two blocks from each other does nothing to affect the amount of money I can earn from these events. So if you go to school here, expect tons of Dogs Shows. Oh, and I had to demolish a Journalism building in order to build the second basketball court. Don’t worry, it’s a dying industry and those students wouldn’t have been able to find a paying job anyways.
- Sorority Chicks like to dance out on the Balcony. The way to increase your student population is to build various forms of housing, which over time bring more students to your school. One of the options is the sorority house. When you turn the animation in the game on, you’ll see tiny little girls dancing on the balcony of the Victorian mansion. How cute. Coincidentally, if you look at the Frat house, you’ll see some guys burning a couch out front. If your campus housing produces too many students too quickly, you’ll outpace your Spirit Points, which is an issue I had. Well that, and the fact that I kept plowing over trees to build more roads. I’m not sure if transportation even plays an active role in this game, but I fancy myself a traffic engineer.
Whoa, that is way too much already. I didn’t even get to the part where you recruit players, and apparently pay them money to play sports for you.
A relatively low-level basketball player costs more than an education department? No wonder teachers get paid so little in real life, they do nothing to generate revenue! This game has taught me so much. I have many more insights I could share with you, but I think it would be safer to just end this article here, and never speak of this game again.
Oh look, my Monster Truck Rally just ended, so now I can afford some Spirit raising goodness :