I spend a lot of time with my mobile phone in my hand.
Usually I’m mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or looking at some random Buzzfeed-type trash content. Lately I’ve been very aware of how much time I must waste doing this. I’ve especially wanted to cut down on how much time I spend on social media. I never post much; I just look at other people’s stuff. And no good ever comes from it. Let’s not get me started on How Evil Facebook Is.
But in trying to stay off social media, I’ve not really succeeded in staying off my phone. Instead, I’ve found new things to do with my pocket-sized computer: games. Lots of games.
It started out fairly innocuously. I’ve always been a fan of Japanese logic puzzles – nonograms, slitherlink and hashi – and years ago, my favourite timewaster was a website called Conceptis. I’ve written about it before – it contains all kinds of logic puzzles, many of which can be played for free. And in browsing the Google Play store, I discovered several Conceptis apps, all for different types of puzzles. Here ensued a couple of weeks of me plugging my way through all the free puzzles on three separate apps. “Puzzles, again!,” Richard has despaired regularly. Yes, puzzles again. I got hooked.
But then once I’d made my way through most of the free puzzles on the app, I needed something else. I could have paid a pound or two to unlock new puzzle packs, but I’m not spending money on these things. Not yet. My addiction isn’t quite there. (Yet.)
So once again I browsed the Google Play store to find something else to suppress the appetite of my needy fingers, that so very badly needed something to tap, tap, tap on. I couldn’t find a decent word game. Pokémon Go required actually leaving the house, so that wasn’t going to work. And then, just last night, I discovered the perfect game.
Well, two games actually. Two games that I’m sat at my desk right now, wishing I was playing instead of working. Both of them have been around for a long time, but they’re new to me and I’m wishing I’d discovered them sooner.
The first is Township, a game that lets me build my own town. It revolves around a farm, and growing crops to sell or turn into produce in factories I’ve built is the key to growing my town – which I’ve called ‘Crabblehop’, by the way. It’s one of those annoying games where you need to wait for every building to be built though. Obviously it wants me to buy premium currency to expedite the process, but I won’t be suckered in. I promise. No, I’ll happily visit Crabblehop a few times a day while it does it stuff in the background.
The second game – which I think I actually love – was advertised to me while playing Township. It’s called Homescapes and it combines two of my most guilty pleasures: match-three puzzling and interior design. In it, I’ve taken control of a balding gentleman who seems a little too close to his parents for his age who’s tasked with renovating his childhood home. Renovation tasks are completed by spending stars, and stars are earned by completing match three puzzles. I have a finite number of lives, but I managed a solid two or three hours last night without running out.
It gets worse, too. Homescapes advertised to me its sister app, Gardenscapes, starring the same balding dude but this time he’s renovating a garden. I haven’t downloaded that one just yet… but I feel it’s only a matter of time. God help me.