Master of the Universe
Confession time. I have a smidgen of an addictive personality. A mild case of OCD. As a teenager, I would sometimes get my allowance in rolls of quarters which I would then feed successively into one of those claw dropping, prize grabbing machines you can find at a mall or an amusement park. I have managed to avoid any “12 step” worthy addictions but I have spent enough hours playing online Scrabble to know an obsessive personality when I see one. I have to have my coffee in the morning; I can’t go into World Market without a chaperone (self imposed); and did I mention I watched two seasons worth of ‘Sports Night’ in less than two weeks?
Now, I have a new time suck- one that I had to tear myself away from to sit down and write this blog. It’s called ‘My Town’ and I play it on my other new addiction. The iPad. ‘My Town,’ involves building a town from nothing. The player builds houses, opens businesses and schools, and provides community features such as a fire and police station, parks, and a post office. The game uses the iPad’s locator feature to allow you to buy businesses in your pretend town, that match the businesses in your real city of residence, making it a sort of personalized monopoly game- but this feature, while cool, is not what draws me to the game.
The residents of ‘My Town’ are happily out and about all the time. I like watching them amble around, leaving their homes, visiting stores, even doing their jobs. The police officers in uniform are out on patrol, the construction workers clear land and build homes, and although everyone is walking around in the middle of the street- nobody ever gets hit by any of the cars, buses, or ice cream trucks that roam the neighborhood. This is especially good because I have not yet built a hospital in my town. Sometimes, groups of residents gather together and sing- little musical notes escaping their little animated mouths. It’s all so darn cute.
But what I enjoy even more than the adorability factor is that I control the whole darn thing. I am the master of this tiny little universe. I choose the style of each house that is built and where it is situated. I choose which businesses will open, and what they will look like. If I want a park bench- poof! There’s a park bench! If I want a food cart- poof! There’s a food cart. And if I want them to disappear? Poof! They are gone. In my pretend world, unlike my real world, nobody complains, and everything is predictable. There are no messes to clean, no kids to carpool, and everyone just seems so darn well rested. In the midst of all of the chaos that surrounds me, I have control over one tiny little thing, and that gives me the ability to deal with the rest of it.
Despite all that, I fear I have to quit ‘My Town’. As is typically true with addictions, I don’t like how this game is changing me. First, I cut down acres and acres of trees to build cute little houses. Then, I knocked down all of the affordable housing to build condos and strip malls. I’ve tried to make amends by planting flower beds and completing other “beautification” projects, but the urge to bulldoze the trees and build, build, build keeps coming back stronger. I am like the bionic urban planner- ‘My Town’ can be bigger, and better and well, clearly I have issues.
Whatever happens with ‘My Town’ there is bound to be an addiction that follows, and one that will follow that. I checked the iPad today to see if there was an application to help wean people off their iPad, but it seems that there is NOT an app for that.