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A Sweet Tooth For Candy Crush

Honestly, I have never played Candy Crush.

I hadn’t even heard of it until a few weeks ago. It’s weird: currently one of the most popular games in the world, and I did not know it existed. It is like not knowing Facebook exists until everyone else has made one. Nevertheless, the phenomenon known as Candy Crush is one thing that poked at my conscience this winter break. My experience with the game, though not through actually playing it, has been entirely coincidental and strange.

I came across an article in Time magazine about it. And by the time I finished reading the article, Candy Crush was one of the most brilliantly cruel business ideas I had ever come across. The creators of Candy Crush beautifully exploited human psychology in order to engineer a highly addictive product—but one that that will nonetheless go the way of all fads.

The game was actually released two years ago, but it really gained momentum in 2013. By November, it had been downloaded some 500 million times. Candy Crush’s maker, King, a London-based software company, designed the game almost like a highly addictive drug.

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The objective of the game is to line up three candies of the same color, swipe, and repeat. Players are initially given five lives to solve each puzzle. And once the player runs out of lives, they have to wait 30 minutes before they are given another life.

But here is the killer: for those players who are a bit edgy and do not want to wait the half hour, they can pay $0.99 and buy another life. It is the perfect time and the perfect way to poke at your wallet.

A player is on the edge of success and he/she loses his last life. There is no way they can hit the sleep button without given it one more shot; I mean it is only $0.99 right? And it is a never-ending game because the developers add more levels every other week.

These facts explain my experience, and bewilderment, with Candy Crush. It all began when I was taking the E train into Manhattan last month. For those of you who have not been on the New York City subway during rush hour, you should. Every time I take it, I see all kinds of people: the crazy and the bored, the beggars and the millionaires, the kind and the intimidating. And people are doing one of four things: staring into space, sleeping, pounding on their phones, or speaking about how they were sent from God to save mankind.

But exactly what are they doing on their phone if there is no internet or phone service? As I saw it, nine out of 10 times, they were swiping a bunch of Willy Wonka Nerd-looking things on their screens into the unknown.

Of course, I knew it was a game, but the most peculiar thing was that the people I saw playing it were not kids or teenagers or 30-year-old men who look like they are still living with their parents.

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but sometimes your eyes do not deceive. In fact, they can make you wonder.

I saw professionally dressed, sophisticated adults with briefcases. They flaunted success, education, and urbanity; they looked like people who worked on Wall Street or Sixth Avenue law firms. And they played Candy Crush. My eyes saw, and I wondered.

But Candy Crush is almost like Temple Run or the Harlem Shake or even the Jonas Brothers. It is a fad, and it is bound to slump at some point, but that all depends on when the sugar rush ends, when people decide to move on to another craze.

I suppose this is an unfortunate aspect of technology and pop-culture these days; the fast-pace of life makes prominence shorter-lived, even to the point where the trend lasts for merely a month or two. For one thing, more Candy Crush-like marvels are probably on their way. The question is, will they bewilder and take hold of people’s lives the way Candy Crush has?

I have yet to download the game. And maybe by the time I do, another game will have dethroned it.

Shahrukh H. Khan ’17 is a Crimson editorial writer in Canaday Hall.

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