Sixty four days ago, I heard a strange circus-like theme emanating from my wife’s iPhone. She continued to focus unblinkingly at the tiny screen. Curious, I looked over her shoulder and spied what was absorbing her attention. At first glance, my immediate impression was that this was a silly game of solitary checkers where you click on the colored objects and get them to disappear. My wife told me it was a game called “Candy Crush” and that I should leave her alone. I reprimanded her for engaging in such a ridiculous distraction and walked away dismayed at her insistence for solitude. Two hours later, I was logged in to my Facebook page and saw a Candy Crush link. For reasons mysterious and utterly beyond my comprehension at the time, I clicked on that link. The candied cartoon countdown began as I witnessed the loading of the game. After that, I began to play. Unbeknownst to me at that moment, the entire course of my life had just been altered.
The goals of the Candy Crush game are simply to eliminate the candy, clear away some icing blocks underneath and acquire the required amount of points. Naturally, I had no idea how to achieve any of this. In the beginning though, I crushed Candy Crush. If the colors looked nice, I clicked on them and was delighted in my blissful ignorance when the candy disintegrated. It seemed like anything I clicked on blew up. I knew at least that combusting candy was a good thing. Sometimes, the very first click I made vaporized nearly the whole screen of candies and a manic banner then displayed proclaiming my brilliant success and upward movement to the next level. When I somehow activated the coveted power ball, which I called the “rainbow jimmy ball”, and it destroyed everything on the screen, I was awestruck by my dazzling ability to advance through this game. I was passing through the multiple levels like a Candy Crush prodigy.
However, it was at level twelve that I discovered my extraordinary skills apparently had ordinary limits. At that twelfth level, my luck seemed to have run out. Eventually, I found out that the game only gives you so many tries or “lives”. Once you try too many times to crush that candy, the game displays a sad-faced heart cartoon notifying you that you must wait for thirty minutes before your life is restored and you can resume the game. To my dismay, I realized that I was being punished by Candy Crush for my failure to conquer the candy! However, there are options to obtain more lives by either purchasing them or requesting a life via emails to my Facebook friends. Being the cheapskate that I am, I opted for the latter request option. It was this choice which began my descent in to the dark regions of Candy Crush known as “obsessive privilege”. Candy Crush designers have devised a diabolical process where the player is given enough mesmerizing success in the game to begin believing that they deserve as many free attempts to continue succeeding as they want. Once they have you in this emotional state of privileged expectation, your addiction has been established! To facilitate the development of my budding obsession to play, I tapped the ingenious Candy Crush feature which enabled me to instantly request dozens of my Facebook designated friends to participate in Candy Crush and send me a life unit…whether they played Candy Crush or not.
For those of my friends who were already playing the game, they were as addicted as I had become and thus wanted a CC life too. Our exchange of life units was steady and faithful. As for those who knew nothing about my Candy Crush experience but were receiving my requests anyway, I was unintentionally disturbing the peace. My requests flooded their Facebook message queues relentlessly. At a supposedly joyful Thanksgiving gathering, a number of my friends informed me that our friendship was about to be terminated if they received anymore Candy Crush life unit requests from me. I was stunned. My Thanksgiving post-dinner discussion had become a Candy Crush intervention. Sobered by the adverse impact of my obsession upon my friends, I decided with much pain to delete the game from my iPhone and I then issued a Facebook confession of my addiction to those still connected to me as friends.
I could say at this point that all was better in my life now, but such a statement would not be true. In reality, my withdrawal from Candy Crush addiction leaves me hallucinating at times of dancing clowns and icing melting before my eyes. Every once in a while, someone else… a fellow addict perhaps, cruelly sends me a request for a CC life. I don’t reply though. I pretend the request is unimportant or pathetic to me and delete it. Still, a lingering sadness stays with me every time that happens. A part of Candy Crush still captures my heart. Regretfully, my wife remains a flaming Candy Crushaholic. Perhaps I’ll arrange an intervention for her when the time is right. In the meantime, I’ll be okay I suppose. I’m getting my life back… and besides, I’ve still got Plants versus Zombies. I’ll never let anyone take that away from me! Never!