My old job entailed making online interactive courses for monolithic Swedish companies and authorities. It was fun to start with but after many years the thrill of sitting in meetings with stern middle-aged ladies called Gunilla and Britta, and nodding at their idiotic ideas, wore off.
So now I work in the world of idiot trapping – sorry, I meant online gaming. My current employers make game engines for online gambling. This is an interesting job, with a team of lawyers kept busy side-stepping the Swedish and European laws connected to online gambling.
Ethically it’s a bit questionable, but hey, if you apply ethics to everything then you’ll never have a job. And it’s no worse than other forms of online commerce, although I admit that if you buy a pair of shoes online at least you will have the shoes.
The company dabbles in all kinds of online gambling: poker, casino games, and online bingo, which is what I work with. Now when I started I knew nothing about online bingo, but I have come to realise 2 things about it:
1) It’s a huge business
2) It’s completely idiotic
Here is how you play online bingo: You log in, buy a card and watch while the computer fills in the numbers as they are drawn. If you win, you win, and if you don’t, well, then you lose.
The main point of bingo is the chat room. Here you can natter with your middle-aged female friends in an almost undecipherable lingo consisting of abbreviations (IYKWIM). Most of your conversation will consist of congratulating your buddies when they win in a game that requires no skill whatsoever (unless you count clicking on the “buy” button as a skill). Yes, it’s just as inane as it sounds.
You will also have a Chat Master who keeps the chat tempo up with chirpy comments and text-based games. These people, the CMs, can reach celebrity status. And they will always have upbeat names and wacky personalities. Joy.
The rise of online bingo has apparently a lot to do with the smoking ban in Europe. Previously the ladies would meet in the bingo halls, to play, chat and smoke. These days, with the ban on smoking, they might prefer to sit at home, play online bingo, chat and smoke till their lungs turn beige in the comfort of their own room.
Nothing depresses me more than the idea of thousands of rotund middle-aged ladies sitting in the living rooms, in their off-white underwear, surrounded by fag smoke and frittering away their meagre incomes on a pointless online game. Haven’t these people heard of Skype, FFS? You can chat for free, AND play little games too.
Well I shouldn’t knock them; they’ll be paying my wages for the foreseeable future. And apparently this branch – online gambling – tends to do better in times of recession that otherwise. So I’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.
And look – I managed this whole bingo article without a single joke about balls. Who would have thought?