Despite the assertion of Edwin Starr in his 1970 smash hit single 'War', it seems that war is good for at least one thing: making companies money via free-to-play mobile video games.
And the popular Game of War - Fire Age is yet another nail in the coffin of Edwin Starr's thesis. Join me as I learn whether it deserves its success.First impressions
It's not good to be bored this early into a game, is it?
I've spent a little time with Game of War - Fire Age, and so far all I'm doing is selecting menu options to build buildings, and other options to then upgrade those same buildings. I can only do this to one building at one time, so I'm hanging about in these menus waiting for them to be created, so I can get on and do the next.
Having built all sorts of types of facility, I can now research stuff using my Academy, and train troops in my Barracks. I've no idea why I want to do this, but I can, and I am.
There are Empire Quests and Daily Quests and Alliance Quests to take part in, but all these involve at the moment is tapping a button to start them, and waiting the required time. It's not exactly thrilling.
I joined an Alliance and then I was kicked from that Alliance. This infuriated me, so I spent a good ten minutes or so re-joining and getting kicked multiple times to annoy whoever it was that had the audacity to boot me - The Internet's Peter Willington - in the first place.
This highlights two things: that I'm not above petulant griefing, and that there probably isn't an infrastructure in place to set limits on the types of players you'd like to join an Alliance.
There's not a lot to do or derive enjoyment from so far, other than the griefing, and I sincerely hope that changes over the next few days of play.Day 3: It's nice to feel wanted
I have finally joined an Alliance that accepts me: the mighty gLOBAL gATHERING (or gLg). This has greatly increased my appreciation of the routine of the game, if not the gameplay itself.
It's an important distinction to make: there's still absolutely nothing of interest here from the perspective of what you might call traditional gameplay. However, that age-old satisfaction of levelling up is present, and now I feel that there's at least a vague reason for doing so. Alliance leader Superficious told me I should reach a certain level of something or other, so that's what I'm doing.
Vic99 needed a hand researching a skill the other day, so I tapped the 'help' button and he or she got closer to their goal.
I don't feel like I'm having fun when playing per se, but I do feel like I'm helping, and that's quite satisfying.
Joining an Alliance grants you better protection from other Alliances, you're rewarded when you assist your fellow members, and should your team mates spend real money in the game everyone else gets a small bonus.
I feel such pride in my Alliance that I've upped sticks and teleported my entire kingdom - which I've named Xerotopia - so that I can be closer to what Superficious refers to as The Hive. It's a gathering of all our kingdoms, basically, and it feels good to be neighbours with like-minded folk.
Every few hours I'll come back to the game to collect some rewards, and tap a few menus to restart recently expired timers. I'll complete the recommended quest, aid my fellow members, and then close the game down again.
Am I having fun? No. Am I enjoying my time? Absolutely.Day 7: The battle of the Asgardians
It's been an eventful few days in Game of War - Fire Age.
I became a VIP, which allowed me to skip wait timers of certain lengths. It also meant that I could skip building upgrades that took fewer than nine minutes without penalty, and this had me rocketing along and creating a formidable and mighty city.
But just as I was feeling really comfortable with my place amongst the Alliance, I received a terrible message.
"This alliance is dead. Superficious no longer active. Join Asgardian."
"A scam," I thought. "Superficious wouldn't leave us like that." But as key members left, and our leader failed to return, I realised it was true. So I joined Asgardian, and things were okay. For a bit.
Our new leader Odins Son1 was always playing, always forging treaties with other alliances, and always sending vaguely threatening messages to us to do better. Vic99 had been promoted to a higher position of power, but I had not, even though I was helping as much as I possibly could.
Still, I continued to diligently tap my menus, and wait out my timers. Each morning when I woke up, and during each lunch break, and just before bed every night I pouted my energy into improving my city to help out my fellow alliance members.
Then I received a message telling me that I should change my city name, and that it was a rule, and that not doing so was forbidden. There were a lot of exclamation marks in the message, so I replied, appealing to common human decency.
"It's just a game, and I like my city name. I won't be changing, but thanks for asking".
"Then there is no place for you here," said Odins Son1.
I replied, explaining that I was a games critic playing the game for review, and really wanted to be a part of this alliance so I could better understand why Fire Age is appealing. Odins Son1 would have to speak to his other officers.
A few hours later I was kicked out of the alliance. Now every day I find I'm attacked by people I once considered to be my kin - or at the very least my kith. Because of this betrayal, I've renamed my city "Asgard Sucks", and those traitorous bastards will see it every time they play the game. That'll show 'em.
There's no doubt in my mind that Game of War - Fire Age is basically Busywork the Video Game, and playing it by yourself and trying to engage in the spam-filled world chat is likely poisonous to your health.
But there's a strong sense of community here, even if it evidently emerges in some cases out of a false sense of self-importance - a self-importance that is bought, incidentally, and not earned.
And that all makes for a highly competitive, highly engaging game in which the human players supply huge amount of competition, drama, and frustration, and pleasure.How are you getting on with the game? You can tell us and the rest of the PG community about your experiences by leaving a comment in the box below. Click here to learn about our free-to-play review policy.