Internet Histories | 11 August
The Kim Kardashian game
I waste energy far too quickly. I spent my early cache of K-coins like a chump. I'm struggling to meet rent. I have poor time management. I'm an E-list celebrity. It'll be a surprise if I climb much higher.
Kim Kardashian: Hollywood is the App Store's latest buzz game and, as if written in scripture, I am terrible at it. The game's three currencies - energy (for working), money (for purchasing clothes and houses) and K-coins (for social capital) - are easily spent and tedious to replenish. A single photo shoot will sap most of your energy; it takes forever to raise the $2,000 for that condo you have to move into, for appearance's sake. Hollywood's built for consistent periodic play - go to a party, find something else to do for an hour, come back and fold clothes. It's not designed for someone like me, who plays video games the way others binge-watch Orange is the New Black.
That design, though, perfectly captures a life where "off the clock" is a foreign country, as Gita Jackson describes in her review in Paste Magazine. (Megan Garber at the Atlantic describes it, less enthusiastically, as "capitalism...stripped of its remaining niceties.") Hollywood's mechanics are a response to every Facebook commenter and pop culture writer who thinks of Kim K and her peers as lazy, pointless, 'famous for nothing'. It places you under the constant, fickle, meanspirited scrutiny of entertainment media - which, these days, is all media - and its consumers, challenging you to keep up with Kardashian. (After a botched magazine shoot, the game's E! stand-in tweeted that I "might be looking for a new line of work"; I still gained 36 fans.) It's Kanye West's GQ interview with button-tapping and a rival who blames #obamacare for your existence.
Of course, it being a Kardashian-branded game, people who would do well to learn from it are dismissing it out of hand. Then there's the pernicious cultural gatekeeping of the 'core gamer' crowd, discussed by Brendan Keogh over at Overland. None of this is good for anything except marginalising people, entrenching the portrait of the gamer as a straight white middle-class male. Hollywood's not without its own deep issues, but it actively challenges that portrait by being a free-to-play game on an accessible platform that prioritises the narratives of women, people of colour and LGBT people. We need this game. We need it more than we need the hoo-rah militarism of 'core gaming'.
I'm still terrible at it, though.
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