Thursday, March 13, 2014

I saw a friend playing a game on her cellphone recently and I asked her what it was. "Candy Crush Saga," she said. It was official: everyone in America was playing it. She was on level 264, she said, after two months of "play." I figured if it was good enough for her -- she's a doctor, and pretty enough to have a real life -- it was good enough for me. I downloaded it and played it and was immediately sucked in. I blundered my way through screen after screen, and when I'd finally burned through all my lives I put it down and cataloged everything I'd learned.

1. People are really stupid.

This isn't to say I didn't have fun, for about fourteen minutes. With the first screen I was hooked. I have nearly a degree from a major university, so I had to fire up long-dead parts of my brain that did logical thinking. I slid one candy, and BOOM! Slid another, and BANG! I congratulated myself as everything went according to plan.

And then the screen said, "OUT OF MOVES. PAY ME 99 CENTS TO CONTINUE PLAYING."

Now, I'm guessing the CCS designers are pretending the thing is intellectual stimulation, but when screens pop up and immediately rearrange themselves because there isn't one single move available then you know logic won't make the slightest bit of fucking difference. See, I enjoy puzzles, with one little qualifier. THEY HAVE TO BE SOLVABLE. Rubik's Cube probably wouldn't have been a huge fad if you had to complete it in six twists. And I don't know many people who'd tackle a crossword puzzle that had clues like "Seven unrelated letters," or "A seafaring mammal, seriously misspelled," or "This is what it might sound like if you had to describe Howie Mandel and you'd had all of your teeth pulled."

It's like if somebody gave you a log and asked you to whittle a likeness of Abraham Lincoln. You might jump to the task. You might try your best. Call me crazy, though, but I wouldn't whip out my wallet if they came back after five minutes and said, "Hey, I'll lend you a knife for five bucks."

Anyway, rather than just complain about it, I've decided to be constructive and capitalize on it. In a few days I'll be launching Leprechaun Lotto Letters, a wacky new game that one day may also let everyone on Facebook know boredom has erased your standards. On each screen you'll get a random set of letters, and you have to make as many words as possible out of them. If you're a CCS fan I'm thinking you'll get hooked from your very first try:

X Z K P Y 4 N

Okay, you've got the letters, now GO! You only have a minute! Oh, and I guess I forgot to tell you: if you send me 49 cents via PayPal you can also use the letter I, and for 99 cents you can use an A or an E. For $1.99 I'll give you a whole new set of letters, which currently are a little something like A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y and Z.

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