Felicia Levine wanted to know what all the fuss was about.
A few months back, Levine, editor of the Boca Raton Observer lifestyle magazine, began receiving Facebook updates from friends about how they’d reached the next level of something called Candy Crush.
“I had no clue,” she says.
Then, at lunch, “the conversation among my friends was about how they were all spending so much time playing this Candy Crush game on their cellphones that their husbands had started complaining about it.”
That night, with her partner, Paul, out for the evening, curiosity got the better of the 48-year-old. Several hours later, she recalls, “Paul told me that when he came home and said, ‘Hey, honey!’ I didn’t respond — because I was still playing and didn’t even notice he’d walked into the room!”
“And that’s when I understood what my friends had been going on and on about.”
Introduced in 2012, Candy Crush Saga has quickly become the Internet’s most popular casual video game. Targeted to a female audience, it can be played free at Facebook and on mobile devices.
Featuring a variety of colorful “candy” lined up on a grid, the game is, essentially, a series of increasingly challenging puzzles. On each level, you’re allowed to make a certain number of moves in order to line up three identical candies in row. Once that’s achieved, the candies are “crushed” (disappear from the screen) and a new — and more difficult — set appears.
What’s insidious is the “freemium” aspect of the game. Yes, it’s free to download and play. You even get five complimentary “lives” at the outset. But if, as you ascend the 400 increasingly difficult levels, you lose those lives, you’re kicked off the game for 30 minutes. However, a mere 99 cents buys you more lives, and lets you bypass the forced hiatus.
So, to paraphrase a line from the movie WarGames: If you possess the type of obsessive/compulsive personality traits that might make it a struggle keeping the world’s most popular online casual video game in proper perspective, your only winning move with Candy Crush might be not to play.