My addiction to digital candy demolition

July 29, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
July 29, 2017

I haven’t updated the blog in more than a week, for which I apologize. I had to do some traveling, which I’d expected, but I wound up doing so for a purpose that I hadn’t anticipated when a family member suddenly developed a serious situation.

When I stay with this relative, I do something that I never do anywhere else: I play Candy Crush Saga, the free mobile game that makes an estimated $1.5 million a day.

I’m proud to say that I’ve never paid a single dime to play this match-three puzzle game (as Think Gaming describes it). Nor have I polluted anyone’s Facebook timeline by asking for help unlocking a level or whatever it is people do (used to do?) on the social network. Instead, I advance through the game the old-fashioned way: With lots of trial and error, lots of waiting and some dumb strokes of luck.

I find it hard to explain the allure of Candy Crush; after all, the game features a relatively simple set of game-play mechanics and an endlessly looping, frequently irritating score. However, there’s a definite satisfaction in making candy disappear, which happens when you swap the positions of two candies to form a row of three or more of the same kind.

Some of the gratification is due to the nifty sound effects the game uses to reward successful plays. Some of comes from the thrill of seeing strings of candy align automatically (sugar crushes, in the game’s parlance). And some of it derives from the sense of achievement I get from conquering a level that’s stymied me over the course of several attempts.

The game regularly features different side challenges and contests that spice things up. Frequently, the game offers magical helmets and soda-fueled flying saucers that temporarily bestow different kinds of boosters, which typically make it easier to clear the board.

I started playing Candy Crush a few years ago, after a relative installed the game on an iPad. My relative soon grew bored of the game, but not before goading me into trying to solve a few levels. I quickly became hooked.

I don’t currently own a tablet, and I probably wouldn’t install this game if I did, so I only get to play Candy Crush on trips to Ye Olde Family Homestead. This limitation restricts the number of hours that can be poured into this entertainment black hole.

Still, that doesn’t excuse the amount of time I’ve devoted to the game this spring and summer. (And perhaps a few seasons prior to those…) In recent months, I’ve found Candy Crush occupying an increasing percentage of my family visits.

Normally, Candy Crush is somewhat self-limiting. Each failure to complete a level within the given parameters (number of moves, typically, although sometimes there’s a time constraint) costs a life. When a player’s used up five lives, he or she either has to purchase another life, wait until a life regenerates or ask friends for assistance. Each regeneration takes half an hour.

But there are exceptions to every rule. Recently, my prowess in gathering striped candy allowed me to win a contest. One of the rewards was a “live forever” booster, which enables the recipient to continue playing no matter how many times she or he fails to complete a level. This booster can last anywhere from one hour to a full day; my prize in the contest was a six-hour reprieve.

I ended up playing the game for about two and a half hours straight, after which I felt, well, like I’d overdosed on candy. I returned the tablet to its owner and make a conscious — and largely successful — effort to cut down on candy crushing for the rest of the week.

Unfortunately, despite this extremely brave act of self-discipline, I’ve let other things distract me from blogging. I’ll try to make up for that in coming days.

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