Those of you with smart phones undoubtedly have been playing uploaded games on your phones for years. Unfortunately, I’m the type of person who holds onto my incredibly outdated devices for as long as possible because I don’t like change stubbornly refuse to buy new technology when the old works just fine.
Either way, I am officially 90.
This is why I never owned a newfangled Razr in 2004 and why until just a few months ago, I was carrying around an ancient Blackberry of the likes of which batteries for my particular make and model were no longer sold.
If I had known about the luxuries of phone apps such as Epicurious, Yelp and ScoreCenter, I probably would have converted faster. It didn’t help that I was held captive for years under the monopolistic, ironfisted rule of Alltel. (I still feel semi-bad about starting rumors on Twitter about Alltel causing cancer, running over puppies for fun and influencing kids to drop out of school to become back-up dancers.)
There came a day when my Blackberry’s battery life ran out alongside my luck. When it did, Verizon was there to pick up the pieces, placing into my hands a shiny new iPhone 4 that required accessories designed to make me look affluent and not at all like I just spent that month’s rent on various rectangular pieces of protective plastic. I quickly became reacquainted with SpaghettiOs, one-ply toilet paper and the need for anger management when the 4S came out the week later.
The casual love affair I had with the phone’s endless assortment of apps turned into an incessant need faster than a freshman in high school tries her first wine cooler. As the games I had initially downloaded lost their luster, I looked for something new to fill the void. Then, after an hour of [impatiently] sitting in my doctor’s waiting room, I stumbled across it:
It was a neglectful escape at first. I didn’t know how to play the game, didn’t bother to read the rules – didn’t care. Zombies and vegetal crops that had been planted to be harvested during very specific timeframes withered more than once under my negligent eye. I didn’t shed a tear. I didn’t bat that eye.
In fact, for that first week I confused the zombies with gnomes. Some had pointy hats.
I eagerly showed the game to Clayton the night of its discovery, and it became commonplace to play together, talking about our strategies over lunch dates and texts:
Clayton: “Do you think I should buy some decorative barrels for the farm?”
Me: “And spend 1,000 pieces of gold on a round piece of wood? It takes days to harvest those onions, Clayton! DAYS!! Well, one day.”
Clayton: “Maybe we should work on mutating our zombies to higher powers under this section called “Upgrades.” (He had read the instructions and FAQs through and through. Engineers.)
Me: “That mutated zombie with an onion head is freaking me out, Clayton. Right out.”
Last Sunday, I sent the zombies (who had computer-derived, 90s-inspired names such as Betsy, George and Ned – awesome) into battle to feed and collect loot for the first time. As they gnawed hungrily at 10 red-headed farmhands, I couldn’t help but wonder why everyone seemed to have it in for gingers. It was also then that I felt my first twinge of emotional attachment:
What if my first harvested zombie, George, doesn’t make it through the fight? Why didn’t I give them the proper sendoff, complete with a motivational speech about courage and victory? What is this I feel? Remorse? I think I’m going to throw up…
My nervousness for the safety of each zombie increased with each invasion.
However, as our troops gained invasion experience, they collected not only wins, but brains to curb their hunger and give them strength. After our little minions had been sufficiently fed, they roamed the farm with thought bubbles lingering over their heads filled with images of rainbows, smiley faces, daisies, lollipops and for the extra brain-dead – ellipses.
AWWWW. You can see why I love the little buggers.
We began to invest more time in decking out our farm, racking up experience points and diminishing whatever cool points we had acquired over, you know, actually living life. Trees that increased the lifespan of our little brain munchers, colorful banners, mailboxes, seashells and daisies soon overran the boundaries of our farm, which OMG, I just realized I shamelessly call “our.”
(And society wonders why no one is getting married anymore. Welcome to cyberspace. It’s motto should be “It’s legitimate enough.”
I knew my investment in the game had gotten bad when I started setting an alarm on my phone so I’d know when it was time to harvest.
I knew it had gotten worse when I started to nervously glance at my phone again and again in alarm when a co-worker stopped into my cube to talk just as it was time to sell some carrots.
I knew it had gotten to the point of no return when Clayton and I started having conversations fitting of a tired, cranky couple with 14 too many cyber kids. Because he’s been out of town for work the last few days, I was filling him in on how the farming was coming along, and which zombies were new (“Edna did the cutest thing the other day. I clicked on her as she was roaming through the garden – she loves the new shamrocks I just planted, btw – and she musta been hungry because she said, ‘Brains!’ It was adorable!”)
I also had to admit to accidentally killing our entire first fleet of zombies (RIP, George…) to a vampire farm that first day playing without him. The weight of decisions made without him was becoming unbearable, and when he casually asked yesterday how the farm was doing, I found myself texting half-jokingly, “You would know if you ever spent any quality time with the family!”
Of course by family, I meant Billy, Zip and all the others who had soullessly chewed their way into our hearts. He texted back, “Awww, I miss them” and with that, I collapsed in defeated exhaustion.
When I woke up this morning, I realized I don’t even expect to find Zombie Farm under the folder marked “Games” on my iPhone anymore. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet created a folder for “Obligations.”
I am so stressed, but anyway, I better go check on my turnips.