The game is activated the rise across the globe, but it’s mobile gaming that’s having a real moment. Thanks to the Covid-19 video game boom and the near ubiquity of smartphones, more and more people are playing on mobile. And for the past few weeks, that number of millions of mobile gamers includes me. I’m addicted Merge Mansion.
If you spend time online, you’ve probably heard of Merge Mansion– The internet is covered in advertisements for this. (I was drawn to Instagram.) The ads themselves are absolutely bizarre. A live advertisement Kathy Bates as Grandma fleeing her granddaughter Maddie. Another features an animated Maddie like a bride in tears (what happened to her husband?) whose house is burning. As the ad progresses, Maddie is rescued by Grandma, who shows her the mansion and helps her restore it. But wait! As the house gathers, the cops arrive and arrest Grandma. As the police car drives away, Grandma shows the palm of her handcuffed hand, which has the words ‘He’s alive’ written on it.Not Penny’s Boat“-style.
The actual gameplay is a little less hectic and full of mystery than these trailers suggest. It begins like this: Maddie’s grandmother hands her a set of keys, which turn out to unlock the door to a mansion. Of course, Maddie didn’t even know her grandmother. had a manor. Also, the grounds are in terrible shape and Maddie has to get to work cleaning and fixing everything or the whole place will be doomed.
This is where the video game part comes in: it uses a simple “merge” mechanism, like candy Crush. You merge existing objects and spawn new ones in order to clear different areas of the mansion and its grounds. As you unlock new areas, the story unfolds and Grandma shows up to unravel new mysteries.
The promise of an engrossing and bizarre mystery might be what drew me to Merge Mansion, but the familiar addiction of a fusion-style mobile game is what keeps me playing. And frankly, it’s a bit embarrassing.
I played this game nonstop – or at least as much as possible without paying real money to unlock features faster. I play it as soon as I get up in the morning (it’s my new Wordle), I use all my “energy” (the mechanic that allows me to spawn new objects), I let it sit until the evening , then I play in a few bursts after my toddler goes to bed. I have been known to check and use stored energy during lunch as well.
Honestly, I don’t know why this is so mortifying. Mobile games are designed to prevent you from turning them off. There’s something incredibly soothing about cleaning up rundown areas of the mansion. Plus the dopamine hit when I ultimately getting the item I’ve been looking for for days is real. I’m playing straight into the hands of the game creators here, and it’s not great, but it’s also fantastic. Also, I feel like there’s some internalized toxicity involved. (Am I still a “real” gamer if I’ve only played mobile games lately?)
Instead of being embarrassed, I decided to embrace the shame. Not only did I fall prey to a weird Instagram ad, but I’m now addicted to a mobile game designed to make me lose real money. Does it matter that I haven’t deposited any money on it yet? Not really. It will probably happen if I play long enough. The shame I feel when this happens will be real, but it will also be satisfying.
That’s the point, isn’t it? Yes, I prefer to play The Rise of the Tomb Raider on my PlayStation, but the thing is, I haven’t had the time or luxury to step away from my daily life to make it happen. Even if the type of the game I’m addicted to isn’t exactly in my wheelhouse or what I really want to play, it’s satisfying for now and offers a handy escape when I need it most.
And what is the problem, really? Am I not the first person to scream if someone tries to denigrate mobile gaming as invalid? I’m just as much of a gamer when typing on a mobile game as I am compulsively gaming on my console. I shouldn’t feel embarrassed by the kind of title I’m playing, and even if I do (because we feel what we feel!), I’ll embrace that emotion, instead of hiding behind it.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a mansion to spruce up.