March 3, 2016
First things first, don’t kid yourself – the Kardashians and Jenners are easily the hottest celebrity-socialites in Hollywood right now; stubborn denial can only be directly linked to alternative hipsters still clinging onto their Nokias. And these days, with fame comes your very own Sims-style game, to ensure that you are well and truly pervasive. After Kim Kardashian’s very successful mobile game Kim Kardashian: Hollywood took off in 2014, it seemed only inevitable that her then up-and-coming half-sisters would join in with some friendly sibling rivalry. And thus, the Kendall & Kylie game was born.
So! Would this game be able to hold its own next to Kim’s climb-to-Hollywood-fame virtual adventure? Barely two weeks in from its release, I decided to give the Jenners a go. Unfortunately, I don’t really have very many positive things to say.
The premise is the usual – pick an avatar and aim to become the most famous Jenner-commoner hybrid within the universe of the game. I started out easy, fashioning my avatar to be as Asian as possible (although I cheated and went for typical Kylie lips because why the hell not).
So this is as Asian as a Jenner can get, apparently. Undaunted, I proceeded to name her. Naturally, I picked a celebrity-worthy name.
Here’s where things started to get ugly. Almost immediately after fashioning Kamanda Jenner, I was thrown into a peasant’s position – a limited closet of shabby clothes, no money to pay my rent, and a pretty shitty job I didn’t even ask for. I started out slave to my landlady, and then the bratty daughter of my employer. Obviously, as in most games, you have to work your way to the top; earn points, unlock levels, break high scores. But Kendall & Kylie aren’t asking a warrior princess of you; they’re forcing you to be characteristically ruthless and shameless, to manoeuvre obstacles till you get what you want (or think you want) – fame.
There’s no liberal clicking around the game universe – you’re obligated to click on characters’ speech bubbles to hear them talk (or text you), after which you have to click on computer-generated responses to continue the conversation and move the game along. If you’re lucky, you get to choose from up to three different responses. But even then, when you choose ratty responses unbecoming of an Internet star, you lose money and points. So in a really meta way you become a slave to the game too, unable to make your own choices to respond or move around – you complied or remained stuck where you were. It took me by surprise at first, but soon I was able to realise which responses were the most lucrative in the long run, because, you know, PR.
But the scariest part of going through the game, is realising how insanely obsessed the world has become with being social media-famous or “viral” – which was literally one of the responses listed early in the game for you to choose how you’re going to make money. Everything revolves around gaining followers and likes on social media; you unlock new levels and outfits by posting selfies with Kendall Jenner; you race against the clock to vlog as much as possible to earn “star points”. Your ultimate goal is to climb the follower hierarchy of all the players in the K-universe – something that’s highlighted to you right from the beginning.
And that’s when it hits you – how dystopian everything seems. Your life in the game literally revolves around likes and follows – if you don’t instagram it, why’d you even participate? To say nothing of the fact that this chilling race to the top almost exactly reflects how our generation and the one below behaves in today’s cyber society, it was horrifying knowing that celebrities with so much influence in pop culture were actively promoting such behaviour. “It’s normal,” I started thinking to myself, “working for the likes.”
If anything, perhaps the most fulfilling part of the game was the actualisation of every tween girl’s wish – to be besties with Kendall and Kylie Jenner. (I have to admit, there was a regrettable rush of excitement when they followed me on Instagram.) But that was it. It came to a point where this endless chase for followers got too tiring and scary – would there ever be an end? Since the currency here is followers, how does one ever win? I wanted out, and before I’d even unlocked a new pair of shoes.
By all means, give the game a try (it’s free on the app store anyway). The thrill of going viral and gaining Internet celebrity status might be appealing, given that after all, it’s still just a game. But it took under an hour for me to realise it just wasn’t for little ol’ pleb me. If it’s any consolation, though, Kamanda Jenner will always be a star in my eyes.