Culture

Bit Slap: It’s all in the cards

steam cards

Every Thursday, Bit Slap brings you the latest in gaming news and bon mots.

This week, Valve unveiled Steam Trading Cards. The net-net of it is this: players earn digital cards by playing certain games. When players complete a set, they earn in-game items, and coupons for other steam titles. Also badges. That level up.

When I heard about this, the first thing I thought of was the Poochie episode of The Simpsons. In the episode, Bart, Lisa and some other students from Springfield Elementary participate in an Itchy and Scratchy focus group. Milhouse’s suggestion on how to make the show better is an amazing/dumb throwaway line: “You should win things by watching!”

Steam is rapidly approaching this Milhouse Singularity.

I’m not complaining about this like some curmudgeonly grandfather who gets pissed when the losing T-ball team still gets a participation trophy. I’m complaining as an adult man who has a weakness for trading cards. I mean “trading cards” as a verb phrase. Like, the act of trading cards. I don’t even know how these cards are going to work fully function but I have a rising urge to barter with these yet unseen digital entities.

I used to play Magic: The Gathering. It might be more accurate to say I no longer buy cards; I’ll play from time to time. Funnily enough, I had an acquaintance who, after hearing I used to play, thought I quit because “it might be a turn-off for the ladies.” My boob-touching has been largely unhindered by my love for haste creatures, counterspells, green/blue decks, attack phases, and mana acceleration. I quit because a nerd’s gotta eat.

But this shit? It’s free. And if it’s anything like the Team Fortress 2 hat economy, it means free with the potential for actual monetary gain.

I can’t stop playing Prime World: Defenders because of the way the game mixes tower defense and a trading card game. And don’t get me started on Card Hunter.

This mixture of anxious anticipation over my soon-crumbling willpower is the epitome of a first-world problem and I hate using that phrase.  Don’t get me wrong: it’s funny to laugh at rich kids tweeting about how they have to use their mom’s shitty iPad 2 because they dropped their iPad 3 in the hot tub limo on the way to space prom. But if you think about it—and believe me, I have thought about it—most problems are first-world problems because they don’t involve the threat of famine or forced conscription into an army of child soldiers.

That’s what I tell myself, anyway. But I digress. You can sign up for the beta by joining the this Steam Group.