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Hurricane’s coming, and I’m mad at a video game

By   /   October 29, 2012  /   2 Comments

If you’re like me, you’re having some difficulties focusing today. Most likely, because of this. I doubt that this lil’ North Dakotan blog reaches all that many people on the east coast, but assuming it does and no one else has already told you to do so, be safe. Maybe get out of there, if you can. Our thoughts are with you, and I’m hoping things won’t be as bad as they’re saying they will be, somehow.

Anyway, rather than focus on that, I have the following post that I actually wrote several weeks ago, right before the Examiner page went down for a few days. I’ll put it up for you today, even though most of it is passive-aggressive whining. Maybe it’ll help distract us all from the upcoming savagery of Mother Nature. Probably not, but important thing being, I’m not in the mood to write anything new.

I’ve been having sort of a rough go about it the last couple of weeks, which sucks, I probably don’t need to tell you. So in that time, I’ve had one distraction keeping me as close to sane as I’m capable of, and that’s The Simpsons: Tapped Out game for my iPhone. Because while things may kind of suck in my real life, at least I could focus on things in my cartoon world and not notice as much.

If you’re not familiar, which you probably aren’t, The Simpsons: Tapped Out is a game that’s sort of like Sim City, in that you build your own Springfield with all of the characters from the Simpsons inhabiting the town. The buildings and the characters all cost money, which you earn from the characters doing jobs and the buildings gathering interest. There are, by my estimate, about thirteen brajillion of these kinds of games available to play on the iPhone/iPad, and of that number, my daughter is currently playing about seven brajillion of them simultaneously. I, however, only have the one. That being the Simpsons. Because of what a nerd I am.

The Simpsons: Tapped Out is what’s known to the kids as a “freemium” game. What that means is that the game is free to download (Yay!) but costs you money (Boo!) in that you have two forms of currency – regular and premium. You earn lots and lots of the regular currency, but very little of the premium, so of course, most of the important purchases you need to make are with the premium currency. But don’t fret! Because you can get the premium currency that you need by giving the makers of the game, Electronic Arts, some of your actual money in exchange for it. For the sake of this blog, let’s say that I may have done this. Because let’s say that I am not all that smart of a man.

So anyway, I had been playing this game for about two or three months, and in that time I had built my Springfield to Level 21, which is a very advanced level to be at. I had a great many accomplishments that I had accomplished through daily play on the game. It had been occupying so much of my time that I’m not certain that I’ve had an actual conversation with another human being for at least the last three weeks. Which is fine. I suck at interacting with humans. But this game, that I enjoyed interacting with. Up until four days ago.

So last Friday, it happened. I was logging into my game, which I am apt to do, as I mentioned, when something a bit different happened to me. Rather than logging into my game, I instead was asked by prompt if this Level 2 game happened to belong to me. Here is photographic evidence.

Um....no?

Fun, right? I had a Level 21 game, and now it was a Level 2 game. Good trade-off. So I did what I expect most people would do and mashed on the NO button, as hard as I could, assuming that the computer would then react with “Oh, okay. I was just checking. Here’s your actual game.” Turns out, not so much, as the game then instead told me that it would be happy to start a brand new game for me. So Level 2 or Level 0 are my options. You could say I wasn’t all that happy with either of them.

Now I, gentle reader, am a human being, and as such I have what are known as emotions, one of which happens to be anger. And I cannot control becoming angry, but I do have control over how I express that anger. And I, constructive person that I am, chose to outlet that anger into yelling at the people at Electronic Arts via electronic mail. Or that was the plan at least. This plan was somewhat stifled by what I will charitably refer to as EA’s “customer service page.” See it for yourself. If you have a couple of hours of free time, I challenge you to figure out how to make a complaint on there. Go on. It’ll be a fun challenge. I know I had a blast.

Fast forward to however long it took me to figure out what I was doing. Eventually, after much frustration, I came to a form that said that I could email, live chat, or phone someone in customer service. Except not live chat or phone. Those options are not offered currently. So just email. Which I did. Many, many hours later, I receieved an email that stated thusly…

  • Hello Erik,
  • Thank you for your interest in Electronic Arts.
  • It’s really sad that you suddenly lost your game and progress. Being an avid game player, I can understand how much this means to you and apologize for the inconvenience caused to you. I have mentioned some steps to you to resolve the issue. Give them a try and see whether they restore your account or not.
  • Here are the steps:
  • 1. Launch the game and let the game load to the “Tap to Continue” screen.
  • 2. At the “Tap to Continue” screen, look to the bottom left corner at the Origin Orange “O” icon.
  • 3. Click on the Orange “O” icon with the words “Login” to sign into your Origin account.
  • 4. Once you are logged into the correct Origin Account, you should be able to access your saved Springfield.
  • 5. Your Springfield should be back to normal after you log in to Origin. Tap the icon on the bottom left to get in.
  • If you still didn’t receive your Springfield back, please reply to this email with following information:
  • 1. User name used to play the game.
  • 2. Email account associated with username.
  • 3. Date of birth mentioned the the account.
  • I will look forward to your reply.
  • Best regards,
  • [NAME REDACTED]
  • Electronic Arts – World Wide Customer Experience

Let’s break down some of that for you. First off, EA would like for me to know that they appreciate my interest in Electronic Arts, despite the fact that I have none of that whatsoever. Then, as an “avid game player,” they know exactly how much it does not feel good to have had money stolen from them by a crappily-designed video game. I’m glad they can relate to me, simple corn-fed peon that I am. And then, of course, the solution to my problems: Did you try logging into your game? Try logging into your game and that will work.

(Insert sound of a massive stroke occurring inside of my brain here.)

To this, I responded by telling them that no, I am not actually as stupid as they believed me to be and I had already tried that. Could you please maybe solve the problem by attempting to fix it? Which they then did. Or said they did. As they checked my account and determined that it was “fine.” Oh, hey, cool! I’m glad to hear that I didn’t actually have a problem this whole time! Thanks for letting me know!

It was at this point that, having solved my problem for me by not solving it, they let me know that they were closing my support case. And that’s when I blacked out for a couple of days, from the rage.

Anyway, I followed up with more emails, telling them that hey, just saying that you solved my problem isn’t actually the same thing as solving my problem. To which they asked for me to fill out a questionaire to be forwarded to their “senior staff.” I did that. That was three weeks ago. Since then, nothing. Not a word. So I’ve determined that at Electronic Arts, “senior staff” is code for “kindly get bent, paying customer.”

So I emailed Apple instead. Told them that EA had taken my money and given me nothing back in return. They refunded my money within a couple of hours. It was weird.

Quick addendum time! Hopeful optimist that I am, I decided that while I waited for EA to fix my problem and restore my game, I would start another game to pass the time. Which I did. Which in three weeks, I got up to Level 16. You can probably see where this is headed.

Um...still no?

Yupper. Screw me once, shame on you. Screw me twice, IT’S STILL SHAME ON YOU, BECAUSE YOU ARE STILL TERRIBLE REGARDLESS OF HOW GULLIBLE I AM.

And there you have it, a bunch of stuff that I’m certain only I probably care about, but which I mention anyway for two reasons. One, if I didn’t get it out of my brain, I was liable to start hitting people with my car. Two, is this really what customer service has come to? A series of canned replies until the complainer gives up and goes away? Which is a good system, I’ll admit, because it works. Here I am, about a month later, and ain’t nothing been done to help me. But as I mentioned at the start, a whole bunch of other people are currently dealing with something just a tad more catastrophic with a massive storm headed their way, which helps put things in perspective just a bit. There are things in this world more important than video games.

Still, I am pretty mad about all this.

Bismarck resident Erik Hagen is the author of the SodBlog and relatively certain that if anyone at EA reads this post, they will do even less to help him, which is sort of like dividing by zero. Send your rage-filled complaints to SodBlog@me.com or visit his website at SodBlog.com.

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I came into this world naked, covered in blood and slightly hysterical. Very little has changed since.

2 Comments

  1. Maik says:

    Hi Erik, the same happend to me (once) a few days ago, I was at Level 21. The forum is full of users with the same problem, but EA doesn’t fix it. I played two months, for nothing. Did you get a better answer from the senior staff later? I get no answer from anyone there.

    • Erik Hagen says:

      Haven’t heard a word from them since I posted this. Not really expecting to, either. I believe I’ve burned through all of their pre-prepared canned emails by now. I’ve been watching the threads on their forums for any updates, or potentially someone else unaffiliated with EA who may figure out a solution.

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