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Bison Dollars

The Bitmob Writing Challenge encourages community members new and old to submit an article based on a specific topic. We had a very successful prompt last month, and I will post a roundup of the entries soon. But for now, let's carry that momentum into February's edition, shall we?

Coins. Points. Rupees. Gil. Zenny. Bison Dollars. Most of today's games have a currency that you use to buy items or unlock new content. It is especially important in role-playing games, where having a complete economic system adds to the immersion. For example, I might have been fine saving and buying weapons at floating checkpoints in Final Fantasy 13, but thousands of fans moaned the death of towns and shops. Square Enix listened to their complaints, and now in Final Fantasy 13-2, you get your goods from a saleswoman in a Chocobo suit as nature intended.

What a title does with virtual money can impact a player's enjoyment of the game, and for this month I want you to examine these currencies, as well as experience-point and upgrade systems that help you improve your heroes.


Here are the rules:

Write a 400-800 word article on how money, item-creation systems, or experience points work in a game and how they affect the experience. To use FF13 as an example, that means you can write about gil, the weapon-upgrade system, or the Crystarium level-up system. More examples include:

  • How the rate that you earn money affects the difficulty of RPGs, like Dragon Quest or Fable.
  • The role of buying or developing resources in Civilization, SimCity, or StarCraft.  
  • The value of collectables in platformers like Sonic The Hedgehog, where rings serve to both "buy" extra lives and help Sonic survive attacks.
  • The perks system in Call of Duty.
  • Real-world currencies like Microsoft Points and free-to-play online systems.

Post the article with “Bitmob Writing Challenge” in the tags by February 29, 2012. It will appear in the Mobfeed, and at the end of the month, I will collect all of the stories into one package that will appear on the front page.

Good luck.