So today I am leaving you an afterthought, before the year ends, on some geeky apps that I have tried this year. I am not the most techy person, but I thought “you need to try ’em to know you hate ’em”, sorta thing, and that is pretty much what happened. Well, maybe I didn’t hate them in the end – one of them I did…oh yes, I still Do. But in general I was left with a feeling of emptiness. I got this feeling that now that geek culture is popularising – which is not a bad thing – our consumerist/capitalist habits are transforming the essence of our ‘aficionado’ communities, and I am not sure if I necessarily like the impact…
As many of you may know by now, I deal with cultural theory for my academic research, so this hit home very closely. Concepts such as cultural capitalism, cultural citizenship and mass consumerism are intrinsically connected to the purpose and use of these apps, and it felt incredibly awkward dealing with this as a first hand subject, rather than from the point of view of analysing the phenomenon. But, in any case, here is some food for thought.
The first app I’d like to talk to out about is Habitica (https://habitica.com). This is an app that is supposed to make your list management and habit keeping more fun. You have like a pixel character that gains experience points through completing the tasks you have set yourself in your list to do, as well as for keeping up with your chores and your daily habits. I would like to say, I did like the concept behind this app – I am not usually one for lists and that sort of thing, but the app sets you reminders and what not, so it is pretty handy if you find yourself with a busy schedule, and the thought of a diary or a cluttered calendar seems dreadful – it certainly doesn’t work for me. For an entire month, I used Habiica everyday and I would like to think it did help me get through the stuff I had to do…However, reflectively, I think a lot of the stuff I did or set up may have well been for the exp grind, and I feel that sort of defeats the purpose of this type of technology. It is cool that we can make daily tasks and our to-do lists more fun; I am ALL up for that. But there are certain part of the app that become just another money milking tool for gamers. Get to level whatever, but you can only purchase this thingy with actual money. Unlock this quest by doing this or that which requires a little bit more than you just playing the game: you cannot go on quests without a party, and for that you need to invite friends to use it with a QR code…so, what was the point in levelling up after all? In the end, I couldn’t help a bit that this was some sort of wolf in sheep’s clothing. So I Stopped. However, I would like to say that the concept is fun and has a good basis, so if this is something that you like the sound of it, I would certainly advise to give it a go.
Then we have Cthulhu Virtual Pet – The Most Annoying Thing on The Planet. This is essentially a Tamagochi – if you lived in the 90s, you’d know them wonderful sparkly annoying bits. I can only thing of one thing more annoying than one of those, and it could only be a Furby. The thing is, if you leave a Tamagochi to its own devices, eventually it dies or the battery runs off…Lil Cthulu will drain your phone battery. You can mute him, but you will still receive notifications of such a clingy nature such as “I am bored and I ate Bob because you didn’t give me a fun cultist for dinner before bed time”. Lil Cthulhu cares little whether you are sleep or at work he will crave and bother you endlessly. And, sadly, (at least for me), the fact that you can go and destroy San Francisco in the fashion of Lilo and Stitch does not redeem the annoyance of this virtual pet. Never did the Old Ones think of such torment I tell ya. Nonetheless, if you want just, for kicks, to feed cultists to the Dark God in cutesy pixel imagery, then please be my guests.
Then there are the useful things. I am still debating whether they are over the top or if maybe I am not just that cool, but in any case…There a lot of apps now that allow you to store ridiculous amount of info and tools for some of your favourite games. From extended wikis to deck builders, you name it, it probably exists. Just to name a few that first come to mind, you have the PokeType, an app that stores all the information that ever existed for every single Pokémon since the originals that are included in the video games. Or the Deck Builder for Netrunner called Net Deck which contains every single card in the game, info and stats, art work, and it also allows you to load up your decks into jinteki.net – so you can play with your decks in the Netrunner online game community.