Tammy Swift, Published March 08 2014
Swift: Discovering the insidous evil that is Candy Crush Saga
I say it is paved with Good ’N Plenties.
You see, I have discovered the dark and insidious evil that is Candy Crush Saga.
Others had warned me about it.
“Don’t go there,” they said. “You will lose a year of your life, and one day you’ll wake up to find you have carpal tunnel syndrome, you’ve alienated your friends and family and you’ve sold your wedding ring so you could get to Level 6,000 of Baron von Boysenberry’s Butterscotch Ballroom.”
For the 11 people nationwide who haven’t heard of it, Candy Crush Saga is a fiercely addictive, match-three puzzle game for Facebook users and smartphone owners. It is the most popular game on Facebook and has 46 million average monthly users (according to Wikipedia, anyway, so you might want to take that factoid with a grain of salt-water taffy).
The premise is simple: You must match up three of the same candies to clear them off of a candy-studded grid. As you get better at it, you advance through a series of increasingly difficult levels.
And then, little by little, your soul begins to die.
Amazingly, I figured if anyone would be impervious to Candy Crack Saga’s charms, it would be me. Never mind that I recently lost an entire weekend while binge-watching every episode of “Orange is the New Black” and eating nothing but pistachio ice cream and dill-flavored Triscuits.
Surely I possessed the discipline and willpower to resist a game that had already paralyzed a nation. Certainly I would be the one super-human who had no problem frolicking and galavanting through the devil’s treehouse.
And so I downloaded it. As I lined up trios of digital gumdrops into place, I thought, “This isn’t fun. It’s kind of stupid.” When the game’s peppermint puppet master showed up to beckon me to the next level, I groaned, “This is completely pointless.” And when Candy Crush urged me to “clear all the jellies” off the screen, I rolled my eyes. “What a waste of time,” I announced to no one in particular. “I am totally deleting this off my phone. After I’ve completed another 500 games.”
The next few days were a blur. I found myself lining up starlight mints and jawbreakers until my vision blurred. The game occasionally asked me if I would like to announce my wins to all of my friends on Facebook. “Are you kidding?” I thought. “I don’t want anyone to know how much time I’m on Candy Crush Saga.”
There were even brief bouts of cross addiction as I tried several other copycat games to supplement the adrenaline Crush. Marmalgeddon. Blueberry Blitzkrieg. Ruby Doomsday. It was like Candy Crush was a gateway drug to a swirling vortex of digitaldiction.
Finally, when I found myself waking up in the middle of the night to play “a quick few games,” I hit bottom. My wrist ached from hours of dragging and dropping. I once thought people who actually paid money to “buy” extra time on Candy Crush were the real junkies. They weren’t like me; I could quit at any time. But when I found myself eyeing my debit card midway through a game, I knew it had to stop.
And so I deleted every last game. Freed from the bondage of lemon-drop lynch mobs and not-so-Jolly Ranchers, I could again rejoin society.
Just in time, too.
Now I can watch the new season of “Orange is the New Black.”
Tammy Swift writes a lifestyle column every Sunday in Variety. Readers can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org