the nature of the beast called Candy Crush Saga

it's completely free... before you're hooked.

it’s completely free… before you’re hooked.

WELL, IT’S no big secret but I’ll say it anyway.  The only bigger passion of Facebook now than tracking its stock market share price and accumulating advertising revenue is push, push, pushing its Facebook games and the crown jewel of  the showroom is, of course, Candy Crush Saga (CCS).  You can’t argue with 45.6 million monthly users, with apps on Facebook on PC and laptops, iPhones, iPads and Androids.  In Hongkong, where the game is mindbendingly popular, it’s estimated that one in seven inhabitants are players.  Can you imagine that?

...and it only takes a few minutes to turn you into a Candy Crush Saga addict. :(

…and it only takes a few minutes to turn you into a Candy Crush Saga addict. 😦

I’m embarrassed to say that nearly every free moment of my time is consumed by the black hole that is Candy Crush, it absorbs not only all light and energy but emotions and focus as well.  Any time of the day or night, as long as a moment can be spared, I give it to that accursed game that is, dare I say it? NEUROTICALLY ADDICTIVE.

Now I know why so many people are online in Facebook, yet you don’t hear a peep out of them.  They say an average Facebook person has 400 friends.  You can bet your bottom peso that if you’re Pinoy or Kiwi, at least half of those are CCS players, and at least half of their time online is spent on the game, if not more.

yeah, right.

yeah, right.

It’s not a difficult game to learn to play.  In fact, a seven-year old could easily start playing and enjoying it, because the objective of the game creators and administrators is simply to draw in as many players as it possibly can, without qualification and without exception.    It only takes a moment to step back and realize that, more than selling our personal data to marketing and direct sales companies, using face-recognition technology on all our pictures for national security purposes, and amassing enough advertising earnings to become the most powerful company on Earth, it’s capturing the hearts and minds of each internet using country via Candy Crush Saga that is the prime directive of Mark Z and Friends.  There is no limit on what the game can do.

The game starts out free; anyone can access the game and get hooked.  After a few “levels” or challenges you reach new scenarios where the rules of the game become progressively harder.  Along the way, you are encouraged to ask for help finishing levels from friends who are also CCS players.  The subtext here is that if you want regular access to help, then you should be prepared to “invite” Facebook friends to start playing the game.  This is why the average Facebook user gets annoying invites almost daily from people who otherwise wouldn’t give him or her the time of day.

Still can’t get enough help from your friends?  This is where the paradigm shifts.  For a few cents (from your credit card of course) you can purchase special virtual “tools” that help you surmount obstacles, finish challenges and complete levels that would otherwise take you longer.  Hours of repetitive play become minutes, minutes of finger-numbing techniques get accomplished in seconds.  The precious eye-hand coordination required to succeed in CCS become superfluous, assuming of course you’re willing to shell out online cash everytime you’re stuck in a level.

It looks harmless, innocuous and wholesome, mainly because of all those multi-colored candy, the whistles and string-quartet minibytes of sounds that accompany every action you perform and the congratulatory vignettes of concertos every time you finish a level.  Additionally, your feats (with your permission) are also broadcast long and loud all over your personal FB network, whether your friends care or not.

But it is the same appeal to the senses that FB has so craftily employed to hook you in deeper and deeper.  The same bells and whistles of color, sound and reward-for-achievement that Facebook uses remind me of slot machines and one-armed bandits that are scientifically tweaked to tap into your subconscious and use every neural trick to unlock doors in your inner child, inner addict and inner hedonist.  By the time you’re aware, you’re already locked in.  It’s done so subtly, so gradually and so slowly that very few realize that there’s actually an effort to do so.

Just yesterday, I spent probably an hour on CCS, the time flew by before I even changed from my work clothes.  I did a few chores after that, watched the news while playing, set the game aside during dinner (raising eyebrows from Mahal who also plays) went back to it before calling it a day and thought and dreamt about it before waking up to (guess what) maybe a half-hour of the game.  See how bad it is?

[ By the way, in case I forgot to tell you, you can buy anything that you see on the Candy Crush Saga screen.  You can buy tools, you can buy lives, you can buy extra time to finish a level, you could probably even buy a date with the Candy Crush game creator to pick his brain for trick and tips on how to finish levels sooner. But I’m not that desperate.  Yet. ]

And even if you don’t give in to weakness and continue relying on your hourly fix of five free “lives”, Facebook has every imaginable kind of advertising to bombard you with while playing, tailored to your race, gender, location and even age, not to mention your Facebook interests (learned through your Personal Information section).  Sure you enjoy yourself, but I’m sorry to say at what price?  Figuratively you’ve compromised yourself, and you’ve sold and resold your soul to both Candy Crush Saga and Facebook many, many times over.

The only reason I actually have time to do this is I’m stumped on a level (Level 65) and I’ve run out of lives.  I need to wait for a helpful FB friend or friends to bail me out, or replenish my lives before embarking on yet another mindless hourlong session of CCS.

If you haven’t yet been convinced that there is a sinister directive of world domination behind this game, let me tell you this : Candy Crush Saga was invented a year plus ago, but there is as yet no one who has finished completing all the levels.  This because levels are still being created, currently at around 300+ levels, and there is no end on the horizon.  They have not yet finished creating the game.

Facebook aims to hook more and more players, until it reaches YOU.  Forewarned is forearmed.

Thanks for reading!


8 thoughts on “the nature of the beast called Candy Crush Saga

  1. My ‘evil’ husband downloaded that in iPad mini. Of course, I had to play the game so as not to waste his generosity. I have even spent some dollars for lives (thankfully – that was courtesy of a Apple gift card when we bought our Mac a year ago) because I do not what to connect to FB yet. It is the threat of accessing all of my and my friends’ info that deters me. I am in Level 65 and I am stuck. I guess that is a good place to stop at.

    • hahaha, it’s really deceptively addictive friend, and if you don’t purposely limit your time spent with it, before long you will lose the sense of time. 🙂

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