Embrace your candy crush, Sumiko

Sumiko has a crush

Sumiko has a crush on candies

Dear Sumiko,

I feel you. I really do.

I read with interest your latest column on your addiction with the game Candy Crush Saga. Having started on the game myself, just a month before you (this April), I thought I might share some views here.

Because like you, I have been spending many hours on this game; and I am still going strong. Like any self-respecting addict, however, I do not think I am addicted to the game at all. No, seriously. In fact, if I could offer you a piece of advice, it will be: Don’t fight it. Embrace your candy crush!

First of all, you need to realise that playing video games is not necessarily a bad thing. Certainly no worse than gardening, collecting stamps, or listening to music. It is just a hobby for one to relax and enjoy, like these and many others. Much better than, say, photography, the de facto hobby for people with money to spend but no real hobbies.

It is therefore a travesty to call Candy Crush “utterly meaningless”. Much has already been written elsewhere that Candy Crush teaches valuable lessons in life, such as the equal importance of persistence and luck, and that chocolates are bad for you. I can assure you there are certainly many other worse and more meaningless things one could do, such as binge drinking,  watching cat videos on the Internet, or writing about Candy Crush like you — and I, for the matter — have just done.

I’m also surprised you compared Candy Crush less favourably to Scramble, which incidentally is a game I have also played. I hardly do now, and only play it once in a while these days to humour the wife. Let’s be honest, how many new words have you actually learnt from Scramble? I bet after the first few months of playing, you are just repeating the same words over and over and over again in every round. In terms of gameplay, Scramble is terribly monotonous. Candy Crush, on the other hand, has so much variety across different levels.

It all comes down to how you play it, I suppose. Your husband is right that you can’t just go mindlessly swiping candies, going for a quick “sugar rush”. Candy Crush requires thinking and strategising, not unlike the chess that your husband plays. Don’t let the funky colours and snazzy effects mislead you into believing otherwise. Similarly, don’t assume your husband is not playing chess as haphazardly as you are just because it is supposed to be a more intellectual game. He may just be doing it to impress you.

Every Candy Crush move needs to be carefully thought over if you want to make it through a difficult level. Okay, maybe not every single move, but at certain levels and more and more as you advance. Sometimes I could be staring at it for over a minute before making a move. If you think I’m crazy, I should point out that I’m at Level 350 compared to your “measly” 133 (your choice of word, not mine). There are certain levels — I can remember Level 275, for example — that no amount of luck can help if you don’t manage your moves with extreme care.

But it’s fine. As a middle-age woman (no offence), if all you want to do is have some mindless fun, then go ahead and knock yourself out. As a younger guy myself (only relatively to you, unfortunately for the both of us), I do like games where I can take the time to think, especially during reflective moments on the potty. Maybe it’s a guy thing to over-complicate and turn everything into an exercise in brain tissue damage. I do note that as I enter into the realms of level 300s, the only ones left battling out for top scores on my Facebook list are all guys. Or maybe we are just unabashed in letting the whole online world know the silly games we play while the ladies, like yourself, are secretly doing it offline.

Any hobby can turn into a vice if not managed properly, and you are right to be concerned about letting a game take over your life. For me, I don’t spend money to buy lives or game time, nor cheat by adjusting the system time — if only because I tried it the first time and it didn’t bloody work! If I need “tickets” to move to the next stage, I will badger friends and former classmates on Facebook I have never spoken to into giving me one (you see, the persistence I learned from the game is already paying off). If I run out of lives for the time being, I move on to other things. Like Plants vs Zombies. I don’t believe going on and on without a break will help me clear a level anyway.

There is a time for everything. I try to restrict playing to certain periods only, and I try not to play games in bed unless I’m too tired to read. Then I will have time for family, sleep and other things.

So take a cue from me. Don’t be too hard on yourself, but do remember that even in time wasting, we must venture to be productive.

Candy Crush Anonymous