I spend a fair amount of my free time, while I am reading and writing and watching videos and listening to music, engaged in chatting with fellow players of a particular nation simulation game, most of whom are in the same alliance with me. One of the things that tends to come up often in the discussions is an expression by the person that their nation is poor. Often this strikes me as highly surprising, given the conditions of the players and their situation. It strikes me that many people do not in fact realize what it means to be poor, and this bothers me. So, in order to explain this particular phenomenon, I would like to explain what the people themselves mean when they say that they are poor in some fashion in the game, how they ignore the resources that their nation has, and how this contrasts with what real poverty would be. It should go without saying, of course, that people who are truly destitute would not be able to play such nation simulation games because they would lack the resources to play even free games that depend on reliable high-speed networks and having a consistent schedule of sorts.
Over and over again, especially recently, I have seen a large number of my online acquaintances say that they are poor in the context of playing a game. This is quite often limited to feeling cash poor, as these people have just put down hundreds of millions of in-game currency to buy projects (such as those which make buying cities cheaper), or to buy for warchest requirements of materials to keep on the nation, or because they have invested or loaned out a lot of money, or because they have deposited a lot of money in the Alliance Bank and don’t happen to have such items on-hand at present. These factors, combined, lead someone to think that they are poor when in fact they are not poor at all. And it ends up that when the timer for cities and project times out ten days later they are right back to buying new cities and new projects most of the time and continuing to claim that they are destitute when in fact they are quite well off.
As someone who has at least some personal experience with poverty, this bothers me. There are a great many ways that these players are not in fact poor in-game (to say nothing about out of game, where there is the possibility of investing real-life money to gain as much as 200M a month of in-game currency through subscribing to the game). Many of these people have nations which have a revenue of millions of dollars a day in in-game cash, besides 500,000 each day for logging in, besides whatever return they are receiving on investments, besides whatever income they earn from doing alliance jobs like conducting audits, doing interviews, or participating in counters and raids, and whatever is the value of their savings in the Alliance Bank that they can request at any time they wish. They have all of the things–cash flow, opportunities to make money through work, as well as savings and investments, that make someone not poor, even if they do not happen to have much cash on hand at a given time. Moreover, most of them are cash poor only to the extent that they are investing in things that will either gain them more money or resources or will reduce future costs in various cities and projects. And yet these players continually view themselves as poor.
This is a tendency we would do well to avoid. To truly be poor, one must not only have no income nor savings, but also no obvious way to make a living, and no obvious way to obtain what is necessary for life from one’s family or community. Such conditions of poverty do exist in some times and some places, although it is generally a disaster when such things do exist. A great many of those who would consider themselves poor in fact live far better than others elsewhere, to say nothing about others in time, but consider themselves poor because of they compare themselves to. Still others make a great deal of income but live so expensively that they are unable to have the sort of savings that allows one to feel less under the pressure of one’s daily expenses. One can have a poor mindset or a poor spirit regardless of how one’s conditions are, and it is very easy for us to forget and to take for granted the blessings that we have. To be sure, this happens often in life, but it is rather striking to see it happen even in the ways that people use to spend their time in amusement, demonstrating that the blindness that keeps us from seeing our blessings and our true wealth exists no matter where we happen to turn our attention to.