Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Sign of The App-Ocalypse

One of the more peculiar little apps that you can buy for your iPhone these days is something called "Pocket God." It's a tiny little gamelet, in which you have absolute control over the short, brutish lives of a few primitive villager types. By "absolute control," I mean you can kill them in a variety of ways that are intended to be entertaining.

You can pick them up and drop them into the sea, where they promptly drown. You can pick them up and hurl them into a volcano, where they promptly get all nice and crispy. You can smite them with lightning. You can shake your iPhone violently, causing an earthquake. You can tilt your iPhone to one side, which alters gravity and causes them to tumble off the island into the sea, where, once again, they promptly drown. It's like Tamagotchi for the Sith.

Beyond the fact that I'm apparently unable to find amusement in tormenting virtual beings, I can't quite figure out the appeal that has made this little bit of virtual sadism such a seller. Four hundred thousand downloads? Really? I've watched the gameplay, and even with the regular updates that permit new ways to torment your virtual victims, it just seems a bit tedious.

That your only choice is killing the denizens of your world in unusual ways seems...well...a bit limiting for a god. What if you're more benevolently oriented? Or if you tend to prefer games that allow for moral choices, or for actually being moral? Teaching them to swim would seem like a good start.

And where's the challenge? Destroying things is the easiest thing in the world. It's building things that's hard.