While at college, around 1999 to 2002, I spent a lot of time playing with this new Internet thing.
I was mainly interested in games. Buying up domains, building websites and contributing to the web would come later.
One of the games our class got obsessed with was Cash Wars (CashWars.com – no longer active).
It was a map based browser game in which you had a set number of moves in a day. You spent your moves moving from one square to another (without a built in map) and you could increase your moves by clicking on sponsor adverts.
When you reached another users base, you could attack them and steal their money. In turn, others attacked your base and stole your money, if they could find it.
If you had enough money at the end of the month, you could cash out and receive a cheque through the post.
The game was easily exploitable. If you worked together with your own “clan” of users, you could work out a map of the world and mark it with the bases of users that had a lot of money.
We built bots to move automatically every day, using our maps. A referral system meant that a small percentage of any money earned by someone you referred would be passed on to you; so we made multiple accounts.
Eventually, I reached the earnings to threshold and cashed out a cheque:
I was delighted. It was the first money I had made online and it felt magical. I was playing around with a game and getting paid for it!
It was only $21 but friends and family didn’t believe me. This was 2001 and the idea of earning money from the internet was a fantasy.
I didn’t even pay the cheque in – I would have actually received about $3 due to me being in the UK and my bank charging a lot for foreign currency cheques.
Soon after, Cash Wars closed down
It was easy to exploit the game and they ran out of money.
It was a shame as I enjoyed just playing the game, but the internet was full of new and interesting games to try.
It might seem trivial, but that first experience of earning money on the internet set me on the path that led me to where I am today. It opened my mind to a new way of making an income, and I often think of this when I need a bit of motivation to push forward.
Did you play Cash Wars? What do you remember about the game?