Candy Crush Saga tries to break you down psychologically.
When you fail to complete a level and you fail spectacularly, you are shown your failure and invited to persevere or quit. No one likes a quitter.
When you fail to complete a level and you’re kind of close to the promised land, the game tries to manipulate you into continuing with the sweet seduction of telling you that you only have 7 more jellies to clear. What are 7 jellies? That’s nothing. You know you want to clear the jellies. Now you have a choice. You can continue to play and be the best person you can be or you can give up. You can GIVE UP and break the game’s heart.
When you do not succeed in completing a level, the game coldly tells you, “Level failed! You did not reach the goal!” The exclamation marks are designed to emphasize your failure and make you feel even worse about yourself for not being able to conquer a simple video game, you goddamned loser.
If, at this point, you have not succumbed to the coercive tactics of the game, it reminds you, yet a third time, that you failed (exclamation point). Then it reminds you of how you failed. You did not clear all the jelly. You did not collect all the orders. You did not bring down all the ingredients.
Even when you do well, the game is manipulative. When you complete a level, it offers you the sweet taste of instant gratification. You don’t have to wait. You can Unlock know! Exclamation point! Unlock now without asking anyone for help. Be self-actualized. Be the best that you can be, goddamnit.
I spent an unmentionable amount of money on Candy Crush Saga this weekend, is what I am saying.
Roxane Gay is the editor of The Butter.