Before launching headfirst into an explanation of why Kim Kardashian's iPhone game, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, is the greatest game of all time, I'm going to assume certain things about you, the reader:
1. You have not played the Kim Kardashian iPhone game.
2. You have a general understanding of the ways in which open-ended games work, presumably from having played any number of entries in the Grand Theft Auto franchise.
3. You own at least one article of clothing that you have spent way too much fucking money much on.
This last one is important because I have spent $30 on Kim Kardashian's iPhone game in the past week. It's available as a free download, but, regardless, I managed to drop the price of a 2.4 ounce Diptyque candle on it because I am not the sort of person who should be allowed to connect a credit card to an iPhone. I did it for you, not me, but I'm no hero.
Imagine a Grand Theft Auto where the goal wasn't to become a criminal overlord, but instead achieve the sort of celebrity status that only those with as little talent as they have shame can achieve. You gain both money and fans through modeling gigs, acting bits, dating other famous people, getting spotted by paparazzi doing stuff, working at the Kardashian family store and by taking part in nebulous "club appearances." In a way, the game functions as almost a retcon meant to justify Kim Kardashian's megafame—these "tasks," give or take shooting a sex tape or two, are the exact things Kim herself did in order to become one of the most famous people in the world. Become famous for being famous, the game tells us, and you will become even more famous. Which, to be fair, is exactly how celebrity in America often works.
This is not a fun game per se, but it offers enough of the illusion of fun that you keep playing it anyway. Most importantly, it is completely ridiculous to talk about out loud.
The mechanics of the Kim Kardashian game are comical in their ruthlessness. The loading screen offers such tips as, "Dating famous people will get you more fans too," "Charming people will get you the best rewards and opportunities" and, "Changing your look and buying nice clothes can get you noticed by the media." Sure enough, when my little Kardashian avatar—who I named Lil B, obviously—seemed to have found his fame stagnated, I bought him a new shirt, shoes and shorts and he rocketed from the E-list to the C-list. If you shake the trees in the game's facsimile of L.A.'s ridiculously wealthy Calabasas suburb, money will literally fall out of them. While these are notions often blindly accepted as truth by very cynical people, it's sort of shocking to find them as totally acceptable elements of a game that a child could hypothetically download and play.
The game's actual process of fame acquisition itself is slow and sort of arbitrary. It's impossible to beat the game (a fundamental way to milk the user's money), so it behooves its creators to give you a bunch of different things to do and reward you for doing as many of them as you can to perpetuate the experience. Whenever you participate in one of your photo shoots/appearances/dates/
This is not a fun game per se, but it offers enough of the illusion of fun that you keep playing it anyway. Most importantly, it is completely ridiculous to talk about out loud. When I checked in with my editor on my progress in the game, I told him, "As of now I’m an E-List celebrity with a modeling contract, a publicist and a manager. My rival is some douche who saw me hitting on his ex-girlfriend and subtweeted me." These little snapshots of absurdity populate the game at every point, from the fact that your manager doesn't know how to use the Internet, to hearing Kim Kardashian say some generic bullshit every couple of hours, to the in-game possibility of dating a blogger. But they're not the stuff you think about until after the fact.
While you're actually playing the game, you're constantly left with the sense that while you're not quite having fun at the moment, you will totally have fun at some point coming up in the near future, just as soon as you get another modeling contract, have more powerful friends, trade in your celebrity psychologist girlfriend for the princess of some obscure country that no one knows about or buy a car so that people will like you more. This is how some people—horrible people, people who you never want to even find engaging in high sycophancy in your Twitter mentions, let alone actually know and care for—look at life. And yet, just like how it's dope to let off some steam by shooting a few pixelated fuccbois in GTA and go to sleep knowing that you'd never do that in real life, there's a certain evil glee derived by dipping your toes into a world in which you're rewarded for acting like a fucking sociopath. And while that's not fun either, the pursuit of that next plateau where everything will be marginally better is certainly something worth spending your money on. Like, say, $30.