Buy Big

What if mistakes were made? That’s how we all learn, isn’t it? Taking a closer-range view, it’s fair to say that I could do without having lost two million beans, but if that’s the nature of the mistake then so be it.

It all started with a new augmented reality game called Buy Big. I should have guessed from the tagline – “Conveyancing, lawyers and embezzlement… oh my!” – that this was no ordinary adventure game, and perhaps one to be a little wary of. It didn’t occur to me to read all the conditions of play, and I blithely signed off on all the contracts, as you do.

In the game, you use a currency called ‘beans’ to purchase properties in your real-life neighbourhood, which you can then inhabit in-game. I bought right in, even ordering the special glasses and other overpriced accessories to enhance the realness of the experience. Soon, I was hooked.

A key part of it is accruing more beans by conducting questionable financial dealings inside your newly acquired properties, and I got right into that. I had particular success in linking other players to my private network of conveyancing services. Clifton Hill became a bit of a hotspot for those shenanigans.

It was only after I’d been playing for a few weeks that I received a very rude shock: the ‘beans’ I’d been accruing represented actual dollars, which I’d been racking up in actual debt. See, they start you off with one million beans to get you started, but this is actually a real-world loan which you are required to pay back within a fortnight, presumably through funds gained from reeling in other clueless souls who don’t read the fine print. If you don’t repay in that timeframe, they double the amount you owe.

In short, it’s a Ponzi scheme disguised as an innocent make-believe real estate market. The worst of it is that you aren’t actually getting anything for your money except higher levels of gameplay. You don’t get to own any of the real-world properties that you own in the game, so that two mil I owe is essentially for nought. Still, we live and learn.

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