I’ve found myself increasingly frustrated and obsessed with this incredibly addictive video game lately. When I play I end up losing something like 30 times to 1, and I get generally nothing for a win, but my obsessive-compulsive nature keeps me coming back, teeth gritting, eyes squinting and forehead veins a-throbbin’. The game to which I refer is likely available on more platforms that any other, perhaps in history, and likely played by a broader range of gamers then any other. There’s even a popular analogue version.
The game is solitaire, more specifically, the solitaire that came with my iPod Nano. This brutal bastard of a game deals out unplayable hand after unplayable hand. Too often it’ll start my cascade with only black suit cards, and even more often I’m given nothing but more black cards from the stack. This means, of course, that I can’t do anything on the board at all. I just have to abandoned the game without even playing. And that’s the word the system uses too – “abandoned”. “Abandoned” doesn’t exactly conjure feelings of value in a person, and it certainly doesn’t make me look forward to the next game. Why not simply call it a “new game”? “New” inspires feelings of odyssey, and sets forth the possibility of future success.
This newer version of iPod solitaire, called Klondike, adds more emotional baggage to the game by incorporating a cash score in the upper right hand corner. Each new game costs a ‘price’ (the exact amount seems to change, but averages $50), so every time I lose a game I’m out more pretend money. I score pretend money every time I manage to put a card in the four suit ‘done’ piles (I don’t know the technical word). Each placement is $5. My basically fiscal nature dictates that I actually worry about this fake money, making each defeat a crushing blow, and dropping my final tally further into the negatives. If this were Vegas I’d have been sent packing 312 games ago.
I’d like to pause to consider the amusing idea of an ‘on your honor’ solitaire table in Vegas.
But what do I get when I win? What could possibly be worth all this anguish? A semi-animated set of dancing or high-fiving kings. I don’t even get a cash bonus, I just get more pretend money that goes towards my already negative score. Then I get a screen that reads my averages.
Games played: 324
Games won: 12
Your average score is: -$2
God damn it. God damn it! Yes I want to play again you little shit!