So I wanted to share a conversation I had with mister IT-Rex about the “free” games you get on your smartphones, tablets etc. We have quite a few of these things on our mobile devices, both our daughters seemed to have mastered most of the features of our iPad by age two; getting in to my email, sharing pony pictures to Facebook, deleting boring things such as mummy’s calendar and eBay app (that may have been the mister though!) and of course the games.
We do have some really lovely apps for them, mostly that is all the things we have paid for. For example Toca Boca have a plethora of little fancies; from hair dressing, to cooking dinner for monsters, to building robots and little cute dolly creatures. There is another called Tozzle which is a set of interactive puzzles, once completed you can interact with them. Our daughters love these and they have lasted on our devices for months / years. I can feel happy about these purchases aligning them more with buying my girls a book or a physical game that would last some time.
Then there are the “free” games and I find these so so SO frustrating. There are so many, covering so many genres, from things we have downloaded for my daughters (princess dressing up, pet hospitals) to things we have got for ourselves (candy crush, word games etc). They are, for the most part, sly and utilise underhand methods of getting you to spend money – not so “FREE” then. Most of them are riddled with adverts, some of which are not appropriate for the audience. They are also tricky with how you swipe or click / press, taking you to random pages or back to the app store for more of the same. One game we had flew in a banner where you swipe in perfect time for you trying to start the game. Then there is the in game purchasable content, wow! I could buy some imaginary diamonds, to use to buy some non-existent food, for some make believe animals, in a made up world for £29.99.
And so this here brings me to my point (thank you if you’ve made it this far), I know there are lots of things wrong in this world (our wonderful media targeting charities looking for evil doings is quite topical at the moment). I also know people need to make money. I am not very political, or knowledgable about the state of things. I am ashamed to say I live in a land somewhere between apathy and Narnia, shaking my head at the bad stuff and skipping delightedly through the good. But surely when people are starving, homeless, struggling, there is something out of whack paying for a pixelated house for a pixelated pony?
So you can pay 69 pence to advance through the levels in the game of Candy Crush, to perform a made up action in a completely non-existent environment. That 69p could buy a tin of food for a local food bank, something real for someone real that needed it. Twenty-five pounds (less than the price for a big bundle of gems in the Moshi Monsters village) could pay for a Macmillan nurse for an hour to help someone real living with cancer.
I saw a quote on Facebook that said something like:
“If someone from the ninteen fifties suddenly appeared today, what would be the most difficult thing to explain to them about life today, answer: I possess in my pocket a device that is capable of accessing the entirety of information known to man. I use it to look at pictures of cats and get in arguments with strangers”
I wonder what they would make of this?
The purpose of this post isn’t to judge people and what they spend their money on. I have given in to the lure of being stuck on a game, so frustrated that I have paid my way out. I don’t know what the answer is, there are rich and poor, bad guys and good guys, and a whole lot in-between and all around. Perhaps next time I get stuck I will delete the silly thing and donate to a charity, or read a book, or say something nice to my husband instead. Perhaps I won’t.
What do you think?