News & Opinion » Weekly Wide Web

Weekly Wide Web

The Dangers of Dumb Games



Two weeks ago, The New York Times Magazine featured a cover story on the phenomenon of what they called "stupid games" created for the iPhone and other smart-phones. The author, Sam Anderson, described them as being played "incidentally, ambivalently, compulsively, almost accidentally."

Somehow, once seemingly everyone got a portable computer that they're using as a phone, these games became part of the national conversation. This holiday season, there was a cart in the middle of the mall selling nothing but Angry Birds merchandise, which seemed noteworthy, since how often does a pop-culture phenomenon get a store of its own?

The hype machine for these games moves super-quickly, as Draw Something proved—and they'll certainly be around for a while, but reading the Times piece made me re-evaluate my enjoyment of these games. While the thoughtlessness of these games—which are easy to learn, can be played at an instant, and have no clear value—can offer a nice escape from the humdrum nature of the far-less-appealing game of life, the article made them seem more like the drug "soma" from Brave New World: an agent distancing us from reality.

While I'll probably still engage in the meaningless joy of Jetpack Joyride at times, I did clear out a bunch of these "stupid games" from my iPhone to try to focus my energy a bit. I'd like to convince myself that doing crosswords is slightly more challenging for my brain, so I'll stick with that for a bit.

Comment of the week

"Looks like Soylent Green. I'll stick to Fritos." commenter "jimp220" doesn't seem impressed by the Takis in our office vending machine that no one seems willing to eat, even at their discounted price ("Can Someone Tell Me If These Taste Good?" The Range, April 13).

The week on The Range

We watched the returns in the Congressional District 8 special-election primary, and tried to make sense of the results; watched as Roy Flores ended his affiliation with Pima Community College; asked you to voice your opposition to the Polluter Protection Act; tried to figure out who would get the gig replacing Daniel Patterson; and discussed the highlights of the week's political events with John Ellinwood and Jeff Rogers on Arizona Illustrated's Political Roundtable, with your host, Jim Nintzel.

We gave you a glimpse of what life is like as a chocolate judge; learned a bit about Japanese cuisine; crowd-sourced information about an option in the Weekly World Central snack machine; saluted the creator of The Buffet's Facebook statuses; previewed a new Korean restaurant coming to midtown; and thanked the Borderlands Brewing guys for their desire to make more beer for our enjoyment.

We let you know that Icelandic indie-pop act Of Monsters and Men are coming to the Rialto; grimaced as we learned of a crazy pre-wedding diet gimmick; tried to figure out if the hologram of Tupac Shakur at Coachella might really be the actual not-dead Tupac; learned far too much about male waxing; suggested that you put your phone away at concerts; rocked out with some kids covering angry German band Rammstein; wondered about the creative geniuses who made a giant Lego organ that plays the Star Wars theme; pondered the wonder of Kenny Powers; asked to borrow $1 million for a good cause; discussed Bloodstrike with the Heroes and Villains guys; celebrated the Scottish cultural ambassadors coming to town; enjoyed the debut music video from Sergio Mendoza y la Orkesta; practiced our booty shaking ahead of Big Freedia's latest Tucson appearance; and cried as we realized we might never see Pulp perform music in person.

Best of WWW

We've mentioned our excitement regarding our newish mobile website—and the site is getting better all the time, so you'll have to forgive us for bringing it up again. Trying to decide where to eat can be a challenge, so we've made it a little bit easier: If you head to on your mobile device, and tap the "dining" icon in the upper left-hand corner, you'll be given a number of options on how to search for a restaurant—by proximity, genre or top ratings. Now we've added menus for many of Tucson's dining establishments, so you can see what we think of a place and evaluate prices and selection.

Add a comment