Saturday, December 3, 2016

Time and Money and Leisure: An insight from Candy Crush

Note - this is going to sound narrow minded and oversimplified. That is intentional, to make a point. Take it for what it is worth.


I decided to try out Candy Crush a while back, as I know so many people who play it. I must admit I have found playing it.... conflicting.

The fact is it is a mind numbing, time killer. There is really almost no room for thought or strategy in most plays. It is mainly luck. Yes you have a few power-ups you can choose from, but for the most part, they really aren't that effective except in a few very unique occasions, if they happen to be in the right location.

And I find myself annoyed by the psychological tactics they use to keep people hooked, and to "encourage" in-game purchases. Every so often you get some sort of side quest, with a timer. Completing the request gives you rewards. IF you don't make it in time, the quest goes away. Actually it doesn't really go away, it shows up again a bit further down the path. But psychologically that timer makes people feel a sense of urgency - a need to buy power-ups in order to finish it in time.

And quite frequently you find yourself out of moves, and so close to completing the level!... Very tempting to spend a few dollars just to get an extra few moves, or a booster of some sort to get you the last little bit (Actually the paranoid conspiracy theorist in me wonders if the program doesn't fudge the randomness on occasion just to create that scenario... " No honey, I don't know what happened to all the tinfoil....").

Yet even though I loathe it, I have continued to play it. Why? In animal training, I have heard it referred to as "playing the lottery". It is a training technique for reinforcing a desired behavior by rewarding that behavior at random intervals, it is the key addictive quality of slot machines, and most other games of chance. Every now thrown money into a slot machine and pulling a lever is both boring, and dumb. But every now and again, lights flash, alarms sound, and money falls out. So people keep pulling money in and pulling the lever.

Every now and again a move in Candy Crush will reward you with a chain of matches, explosions, massive progress toward completing the level. It gives you that "casino rush".

They also appeal to my curiosity. I'm the kind of person who can't hike half of a trail I have never been on. I always have to go see what is around the next corner, over the next hill, behind that next tree...  Candy crush throws some new little monstrosity at you every dozen of so levels, appealing to that innate curiosity. What will they dream up next?

And of course, with thousands of levels, my natural OCD desire to finish holds me hostage as well.


It is an absolute time and money waster.


And you know what, that is okay.

That is one of the tributes to human progress. Leisure time. We have become so good, so efficient at meeting our basic human needs (food, shelter,...) That we don't have to spend our every waking hour meeting those basic needs. The average american farmer feeds 155 people today. For every one farmer, 155 people don't have to spend their days foraging, hunting, gathering... Their time is freed up to make music, write poetry, build bridges, invent new technology, dance, play professional sports, make movies, watch movies, watch people play sports... or play candy crush.

And leisure time doesn't necessary interfere with the laws of Conservation. Properly applied and in appropriate doses, that leisure time can reinvigorate us. It can spark new ideas, new innovations, new efficiencies, new improvements to the human experience. Religiously speaking, "Men are that they might have joy."

So by all means candy crush away.

But...

Keep this in mind...

If you are an avid movie goer/sports watcher/candy crusher/.../all of the above...

And if you feel the need to complain to the world about the economic unfairness of it....

Don't.

Anecdotally, a friend of mine shared a conversation he had with his in-laws, who were giving him a hard time for not been a sport-fan, for not watching football, baseball, basketball, etc..

"What do you do with your time?" They asked.

"Well," he responded, "I work on my Four wheeler. Which is why every hunting season, mine runs and I am able to bail you out when yours breaks down."


I also remember a story of a man, after a piano concert, going up to the pianist and congratulating him for his magnificent performance.

"I would give my life to play like that!" The  man said.

The pianist replied, "I did."

If you feel the urge to complain about all those evil, greedy Millionaire's, who were working while you were recreating. Do yourself a favor and don't. You made your choice, they made theirs. Once you've made the choice, the consequences naturally follow. Accept them. If you don't like the consequences, then perhaps instead of spending your energy complaining and demanding 'fairness', you might consider changing the way you spend your time.





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