Backlog Slog – Wordscapes

Listen. Sometimes, you get super busy. You get so busy you miss a Backlog Slog, and you get so busy you don’t get to play Yakuza 0, like you wanted, so you’d have something interesting to write about. You get so dang busy the only thing you have time to invest in is The Witcher 2, which you’ve already written about, and the phone game you’ve sunk the rest of your free time into because it’s easy and it’s right there and doesn’t require you starting up anything.

And by ‘you’, I mean, ‘me’, because if you can relate to this, who are you. Why are you like me. Why are you following my exact life, we should get together and start a scientific study.

So!

Wordscapes comes from app developer PeopleFun, and was released in 2017. It’s one of many, many samey word games on Facebook/iOS/Android devices. The sort of game you download because it has the most positive ratings by like, 0.1 of its score, or it advertises more to you than other ones so it sticks in your mind, you don’t think about it, you just download it.

And as you download it, you think. Hey. I hope this doesn’t have those annoying advertisements that take over your whole phone. I hope this doesn’t do weird things to my phone. Please don’t do anything weird to my phone. And then it doesn’t, and so, you’ve got yourself a mostly functional word game.

It’s sort of like a crossword puzzle, where you have a bunch of blank squares and anywhere from 4-8 or more letters to choose from and to make into words. Like ‘cat’. Or maybe the longer ‘catastrophe’ that my life has become because I am sitting here playing word games when I could be playing Yakuza 0, because I have become too invested in this now.

So the gameplay is pretty simple and straightforward. Easy to pick up and play. Easy to introduce to your mother who now plays it just as much as you do and yet is nowhere near as high up on the levels, making you wonder just how much time you’re putting into this to be on level 600-something. You stop, re-evaluating your life choices and looking back at your actual backlog and the reason you started this article series.

Then you turn your attention back to the game. A tournament has started! The idea being, if you make it into the top 10, you obtain an amount of coins that can be used to buy hints. You could also spend real money to buy these coins, but you have too much self respect to hit that point. You don’t want to have to admit to yourself that not only have you spent money on an in-app purchase, something you swore against, but you’ve spent money on an in-app purchase on a samey word game that, while fun, is shallow in design and was made to be played in waiting rooms or on buses.

You turn back to the game. You made it to the top 3 in the tournament. The game gives you a bundle of coins and you get that sweet endorphin rush, ignoring any epiphany you may have had about your gaming choices, and make the word ‘rote’. You have not heard this word before. You learned something new and are proud of yourself, using the in app dictionary to discover the definition being a ‘mechanical or habitual repetition of something to be learned’.

You think there’s some kind of message in that.

Something to be learned.

Yakuza 0 can wait until after PAX.

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