krpalmer: (kill la d'oh)
[personal profile] krpalmer
What importance the Love Life School Idol Festival mobile game plays in its multimedia franchise, among live concerts and CDs and the anime series and movies and all the ancillary merchandising, I don't know. That it has kept being updated with new content and features probably means it's a mark in a corporate plus column. One feature added a while ago, though, did focus my mind on the time I've spent playing it since I saw the movie that closed out the first anime storyline and went on to a source of additional content. That the game now tracks the time you've spent playing it and gives you a special bonus every hundred days is something, but the thought of getting to a thousand days playing did get to me and have some consequences at last.

The pop songs excerpted in the game that you try and keep the rhythm of haven't worn out their welcome for me, and that seems something; maybe it helps that I don't know what the Japanese lyrics mean without looking up fan translations. That I can keep playing a computer game for years wouldn't seem to be a bad thing; there aren't a lot of other games on my iPad I've played as much. The "free to play" nature of the game, though, does add an edge to "focusing on it."

A game mechanic where you can't just keep starting "one more round," but have to wait for points to regenerate, might seem helpful to control the time spent on it. That only so many points could be saved up at once (although this amount increased as you played more and "levelled up") led to thoughts of "don't waste the free content," though. I accepted from the beginning this would happen overnight, but playing on lunch break at work was a temptation until I'd got to a level where the game could keep saving points all through a work day. Even then there was still the thought of "use the points that have accumulated overnight before leaving," though, and that plugging away got to me the most.

Quite a while after starting to play the game, I read a story in the translated-from-Japanese anthology "Last and First Idol" that starts off with the main character about to hit bottom hooked on a "free to play" game with a good bit more addictiveness built into it. I kept telling myself "I've never spent money on the Love Live game, and I certainly didn't get to the point of not sleeping," but the conclusion of "Evolution Girls" getting to the point of "mobile games exist to eliminate free will," even if just in the story itself, did key into thoughts I was already having. I knew what it took to collect more "cards" of the franchise's characters, the plugging away to get through the regular "events" with their own reward cards, and how the days in between those events meant their own plugging away to try and raise the levels of the cards, sometimes not so much to improve the results of each round as just to tick off another "complete upgrade" and open one of the limited spaces in my collection. All of that did seem to get in the way of getting through the little "illustrated radio" stories also included in the game, even if that never quite seemed the main draw for me. I also knew there were online resources where I could look up all the card images. With the thousand-day mark getting closer all the time, the thought of retiring from the game and removing it from my iPad at that point did grow stronger.

In my last few days, I did start using up my miserly savings of "scouting tickets" and "coupons" the game provided every so often even for "free to play" users (and it does seem to have become more generous in the time since I've started playing), and collected quite a few more cards. If I had worked at raising the levels of the particular prizes among those cards, I suppose I'd have done better in future events; still, my resolution seemed to resolidify. Playing through the last song I had left to play for the first time (and I suppose I've got a bit better over time at keeping up with the higher levels, although I've alway wondered if playing on an iPad screen means I have to move my hands more than those who use smartphones), I closed down the game and deleted it, leaving just the smeared semicircle on the touchscreen where the icons to be tapped were. The obvious risk is not doing anything "profound" with the time now opened up; I did go ahead and make some "one-time purchases" of puzzle games for my iPad the next day (that might have already formed their own, slightly less distinctive smears on the screen), and I did finish another long-time hobby project not that long ago by processing my way through the scanned images of an old computer magazine. Still, the mixed emotions of this moment make for a bit of a change just in themselves.
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