Level 758 (A Confessional)
Is there anything that you’ve accomplished that you are both extremely proud of and ashamed of? As I write this note, I am at level 758 of Candy Crush. For those who don’t play, Candy Crush is an online spatial logic puzzle game featured on Facebook. It takes skill, patience and luck. It is the single most diabolical time suck ever to grace the Interweb (and I include online poker, porn and Facebook itself to that list). For those of you who do play - yes, I know, I must get a life. I’m working on it (but also, I sense your jealousy and perhaps grudging respect at my accomplishment).
I won’t bore you with the details of how to play the game. It doesn’t matter. I will say that if you know of anybody who is at level 758 like me (or even remotely close to that level, which I bet you don’t), watch them closely because they have a problem.
The game has been designed to simultaneously engage and frustrate players. While it’s notionally a “free game”, many levels can’t realistically be passed without the help of “boosters” - mini-cheats, which are meted out with all the compassion of a neighbourhood smack pusher. The game gives you a few boosters for free, but if you want more it costs money. And, no, I’ve never purchased any boosters.
The game is also divided into fifteen level “episodes”. You either have to redo specially chosen levels to move on to the next episode or harass friends and family on Facebook to gift you passes. My family has officially cut me off. It has come to this. I now rely on the kindness of other sad addicts or my kids’ friends (who I presume think I’m being ironic).
I used to rationalize all my playing by telling myself that my goal was to complete all the levels, as if it was some meritorious achievement -like those Malcolm Gladwell kids who practice violin for 10,000 hours. But King Games keeps adding more levels. There is no end game. Literally. I know this sounds “resolutiony”, but I think I have to call it quits. As of January 1, 2015 I will play no more Candy Crush. The under/over line for a relapse, set by the kindest of my kids, is three days. And while my new-found idle time might devolve into a less benign obsession, at least now if I ask you to add me as a Facebook friend you can be assured that it’s for the purest of intentions.
If you find yourself with some idle time, I encourage you to read Carlyle Jansen’s piece on the timely topic of consent to sex, and how to talk to your kids about it (p. 24). You might also be intrigued to learn why our Bryce Wylde doesn’t get as sick as you during cold and flu season (p. 29). So many people have told me they’ve bought a cookbook as a result of reading Naomi Bussin’s column. If you’re a home cook looking for new ideas, check out her review of “Fat Radish: Kitchen Diaries” (p. 14). As always if you’d like to discuss this article (or if you’re aware of a Candy Crush “Methadone”) or anything else in this issue of Tonic, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org