What is a game?
There are lots of definitions abroad in the land. People like to argue about the difference between a sport and a game, for instance. You could stir up some trouble differentiating between a toy and a game, too, I guess. Here’s as good an explanation of a game as I’ve seen:
A game is a voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles.
That’s a pretty good high-level view of it. The unnecessary obstacle in your way might be anything from a 320-pound offensive tackle to Boardwalk and Park Place with hotels on them. Games is games.
What about your pocket Pandora’s Box? You know, your smartphone, the most totally misnamed device ever. It’s not smart, and everyone uses it to avoid talking to anyone, so we really should call it something else. Pocket Pandora is as good a name as any. It’s basically only good for the intellectual version of slash and burn agriculture if you ask me. You’re reading this, so you asked me.
Most people try to convince themselves that their Pocket Pandora is a useful tool. It’s really not. For most people, it’s a toy to pass the time, and for the rest, a game device. In almost every case, an app on your Pocket Pandora represents a voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles. They don’t think it be like it is, but it do.
For example, some folks want to be able to turn the lights in their house on and off using their phone. They figure this is an improvement on a light switch, because it sounds less complicated than extracting their flabby ass from the couch cushions and shuffling across the room to do it, but in reality it adds all sorts of complexity to what should be a simple operation. You have to find your phone and call up an app and fiddle with it so your phone can talk to a cell tower and then to a mainframe somewhere to send signals back to who knows what to operate an electronic device to switch off the lights.
It’s a solution in search of a problem, of course. But the reason it caught on with so many people is that it has essentially been made into a game. Turning the lights on and off is necessary, but it’s hardly interesting. By making it into a game with your phone, they’ve convinced you that it’s a worthwhile waste of your time and money. What’s the harm in that, you might ask? Isn’t turning everything into a game an improvement?
When you want a toddler to do something they don’t want to do, you make it into a game. Open the tunnel, here comes the choo choo (filled with mush you just refused to eat). Please note who’s in charge in this scenario, and who’s getting duped. Worse still, if you’re duped into playing a game, you’re just the little tin car or boot being pushed onto Boardwalk or Park Place by someone else. You have no agency. You’re not actually playing. You’re being played.
Your Pocket Pandora is 99% designed to play you for a dupe, by fooling you into feeling like you have agency. Let’s test my supposition. I’ll go to the seventh circle of iPhone hell and ask it for the most popular app for an iPhone. Here it is:
I don’t know how many people are using this thing, because I’ve never heard of it, but please note the fine print: it has 860,000 people willing to give it a review on the Jobsstore.
On the front page for the app, I’ll grab excerpts from the first three reviews they have:
Where have you been ask my life???
I love this app so much. I cannot believe that all these sellers are on here and sellers such great products at great prices too. I know some cannot use the app but for those who can it is even easier in the app and you can do so much on here. It’s not some store app that is boring it is exciting and they seem to update it all the time…
… I also especially love the games I as of late have according to my husband become addicted to winning lol. I just have to spend a very small amount of time winning items and well I’ve gotten so many people in My family And friends circle on this app. They love it just as much.
Here’s the next one:
… I AM glad I gave it a try and hope I don’t blow all my expendable income on it because, while there are a few things I need, most of it is just stuff I want. They do honor the initial 90% off gift and if you have time to play their popularity/annoy your friends game, you can get some great deals. The coupons don’t last long enough at all. The other day I had a $16 off $40 coupon but it expired in 24 hours when I was still building my next cart, so I find myself waiting to make the purchase until I receive a good coupon. I have tried the referral thing to win free items and credits but I’m lame and antisocial so I don’t know enough people and I also don’t have the time to peruse reddit for hours looking for strangers to “click for click” with. It makes me a little frustrated (and obviously just jealous) when I see people who have received 100+ free gifts they’re going to resell just because they are kids with no jobs and spend their days being “influencers” on tik tok-In that regard it feels like a tween’s app, but again, I’m just lame so you may have better luck with the whole “Team Up Price Down” thing.
Here’s the next one:
…Again, I am overall satisfied with my shopping experience. Do not be scammed by the games- farmland and fish land seem like fun ways to win or earn free products or coupons but the closer you get to the goal, the harder they get to reach. Very time consuming and all the “free gift” boxes they tell are exclusive to you, are not. The prices never change. It’s just consumer manipulation and again, just a waste of time. Stuff is still super cheap and you get what’s advertised. Still worth using
Turn on your phone. Get likes. Get hits. Get coupons. Get discounts. Get followers. Get news updates. Open up, here comes the choo choo!