Healthy alternatives to garbage like Candy Crush Saga?

Discussion in 'General Gaming Discussion' started by galneon, Nov 27, 2016.

  1. galneon
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    galneon GBAtemp Regular

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    (This is going to be a weird thread for this forum and if I was a newb some would no doubt think I'm trolling. I looked for some videogame addiction forums and had no luck in finding a really active one, but I think some of you will be able to help me.)

    My mother has been playing Candy Crush Saga, Cookie something, Soda whateverthefuck, etc., all that King garbage, for three or four years now. I've casually asked her a time or two about the microtransactions and she's said she occasionally spends $.99 if she has time to kill and wants to play a few more rounds in a sitting. It turns out she apparently has a lot of time to kill.

    I got her a laptop and was setting up Fossamail for her. I wanted to make sure spam filtering wasn't overly aggressive and that everything in her Spam folder was truly spam. I noticed that just from the last 30 days (spam automatically purges after that) there were around 80 Google Play receipts... She spent over $200 in the last 30 days on Candy Coins and Cookie Coins or whatever. I've been sick at my stomach ever since. I returned the laptop to her, and later asked her about it over the phone. There was blatant lying followed by sounds of violence and the connection went dead.

    My dad said the noise was probably her breaking her tablet, a blessing in disguise. He had me access her Google account and the receipts for microtransactions go back years... I haven't totaled them all, but based on averages from a few typical months, she has spent between $6,000-10,000USD on these money-burning simulators over the years. My parents cannot begin to afford this and have involuntarily lost cable service due to nonpayment during this time period.

    I'm not sure what to do. She's retired, has no hobbies except eating, watching reality shows, and playing these shitty games. For years I had been trying to get her to try similar games like Bejeweled, but that requires she sit at the desktop (or now laptop) and apparently isn't as convenient as a tablet game with touch screen. I don't think we can deprive her of shallow puzzle games and I don't necessarily want to, but I would like to get her playing some upfront payment traditional games rather than this hidden cost trash. Problem is, I don't game on mobile devices at all, and I don't even know if iOS or Android have "pay up front and have unlimited access" type traditional games.

    Are mobile games ALL microtransaction-dependent scams? Is there anything we can try to get her playing on Android/iOS that won't result in my parents' savings continuing to disappear? They really cannot afford this addiction.

    I'd really appreciate some upfront-cost-only puzzle game recommendations. Nothing too deep. :P
     
  2. Taleweaver

    Taleweaver Storywriter

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    Ouch...that's bad to hear. :(

    I had heard of these practices, but never on a first- or second-hand basis. Erm...how to deal with this?

    Look...the thing about this is that this is an addiction. I know for a fact that the average gamer isn't a teenage male anymore, as I've known quite a handful of housewives who absentmindedly play these sorts of games (they, however, never spend a dime on them...probably because they never linked it to their credit card in the first place). In any case: it's very important that your mother herself recognizes the importance of this fact: she is addicted to video games. In fact, I'd advice to show her a couple extra credits episodes on the matter (here, here or here...people who spend way too much money on F2P games are coined "whales", so there are probably more sources on this).

    For starters, I would strongly advice to get rid of the tablet entirely (or in this case: not replace it). And if possible: stay off a smartphone as well (yes, regular phones are still being made and sold). Get her into crosswords, sudoku's or solitaire games, if possible. Or encourage her to read. Something aside the computer.

    And before I get on a few recommendations, I'd strongly suggest to remove all sorts of payment options like electronic wallets and 'remember credit card history'. The reason these payments get so out of hand is exactly because it's so easy to do them. Because the initial price is so low and they're just a few clicks to do, it goes in and out of mind before you know it. This goes the other way around as well: if you have to find your credit card each time, type in the number each time, click an extra "are you EXTRA sure you want to do this transaction?" and the such, it forces you to think about whether you really want it.*

    Then...the recommendations. But before I do, I've gotta warn that I can't be held responsible. These games might involve commercials or even payment options later on in the game**, and even if they don't, they might at some point update so they will in the future.

    Here goes:

    -you must build a boat. I've completely finished it without ever getting even an option to pay something with real money. The game is like bejeweled on a timer, but certainly fun and relaxing. 10000000 (from the same maker) is about 90% the same, but less engaging.
    -current stream: I honestly don't know their business model, because this is both free, decent quality and no adds or anything. In any case: it's a puzzle game where you must turn on lights by connecting paths
    -draw loops: a simple connect the dots puzzle game. it shows commercials every five or so levels, but if you root the tablet and use a commercial blocker you can zone that out as well.
    -christmas lights: a bit like the previous, but a different game.
    -lyne: not a free game, but it's literally an endless amount of "how to connect these dots"?
    -threes!: like 2048 (which was based on this), but cute and engaging. The free version shows you an add every three games; the original costs a few bucks
    -duet premium: this is probably not her kind of game, as it requires agility and quick reflexes. It too has an endless amount of levels (as well as a very decently narrated single player and AWESOME music).
    -infinity loop: I'll cautiously put this at the end because while the string of soothing puzzles is endless, there are a few extra things to buy (packs and themes and such). It may not be very different than the pitfall that is candy crush, but I'll mention it here nonetheless.




    *this is also how I keep my own gaming hobby within check, btw. I only pay with paypal, that account never has more than fifty bucks on it and I at best update it once a month. Likewise, I don't let humble bundle remember my credentials, I don't use steam or google wallets and so on. Exactly because this whole payment thing is such a hassle, it's easier to say "heck no" when some game wants to offer me a quick win. Which, by the way, brings me to something else: why does she game in the first place? Tell her to keep in mind that the game itself should be the challenge, not the token "you've won" message at the end.
    **ad-venture capitalist is such a game. At first I thought it was just mocking the very idea of a free-to-play...but later on, it quietly shuffles a "hey...you can progress even faster if you put real money in" in the mix. As such, the game is ABSOLUTELY TO BE AVOIDED!!! :angry:
     
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  3. k3nnyzz

    k3nnyzz Member

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    oh man, that sounds really bad. i think you need to send her for counselling perhaps?
     
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  4. Flame

    Flame Me > You

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    i think instead of feeding her addiction by finding something to replace it or trying to compress it. you should try to do something about it. like counselling.
     
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  5. galneon
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    galneon GBAtemp Regular

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    Thanks for the thoughtful replies. I see this as one of the worst kinds of addiction in that the payoff is virtually nonexistent (or entirely virtual ;)). There's no prospect of actually winning that you have in gambling, there's no (serious) euphoria you have from drug use (or the life experience and understanding you carry after you've quit), no story or camaraderie you have from other videogame addictions... There's just throwing your money away. When she plays these games, she isn't really even happy. Her affect is more deflated than most MMORPG addicts. It's really sad and I'm sure we all regret not doing something sooner as I think the effects will be long-lasting as she's shelved other activities to feed this addiction.

    She came to me earlier today very angry and said she'll never play another game again for the rest of her life. I just said "okay" and she proceeded to unload on me, comparing her gaming to my using drugs as a kid and my present spending $100-200 (of my own money) per year on Steam/Humble Bundle sales, something I'd proudly told her about before because I take pride in saving money. I didn't press her to accept responsibility for what she'd done (futile), and she didn't elect to do so on her own. She's the most obstinate person I've ever known and has a host of diagnosed conditions, so unfortunately I have to tread very lightly and trust that my dad will monitor their checking/savings on a daily basis. Counseling is sadly out of the question. She responds to every suggestion of self-improvement with rage and long-term bitterness unless it came from my long-dead grandfather.

    When I was growing up, I'd joke she had a heroin habit because my Dad and I never understood where his decent "union man" wages went. Now we know why things were rough for them the last several years, but are scratching our heads as to what her vice was preceding the goddamn tablet I got her for her birthday four years ago... I know this didn't originate with Candy Crush Saga.

    Sorry to get personal. I appreciate the game recommendations and will reluctantly hook her up with them (after testing for newly-added microtransactions) should she calm down in a couple weeks and decide to play some more benign games. Naturally, I'd rather she spend all her time reading and stick with her vow of abstinence, but she would probably say the same of my dad who watches a lot of TV. :P

    Taleweaver, that's funny about "whales" and your mention of the AdVenture Capitalist game. Real venture capitalists have a name for their own suckers, the ones who unwittingly invest in an artificially inflated company destined for failure: "dumb money". Heh, all these cynical assholes have special names for their marks.

    I know what you mean regarding the thoughtless ease of making these payments. It's way too easy and governments need to implement consumer protections that force people to fully digest the consequences of their actions every time they make microtransactions. The oversight wouldn't be terribly difficult considering there are only a few popular distribution platforms--the responsibility would be Apple's, Google's, Microsoft's. I noticed when I was first checking out her spam folder that the Google Play receipts were deliberately being sent there--it wasn't a heuristics engine mistake. She wanted to keep the actual costs totally out of her mind. It's classic avoidance. Fortunately, she no longer has an Android device, so no more Google Play (I don't think she'll notice she can get a lot of that crap on her Chrome browser on the laptop). I think she finds her IPhone too small to relax with for gaming. Anyway, relapses should be detectable.
     
    Last edited by galneon, Nov 27, 2016