I’m on the bus, chilling out as usual. My homework is done, my book is done, I forgot my portable DVD player (don’t judge.) So, I, like other people, whip out my phone and start playing a game, but little do I know, I am becoming an addict.

Now don’t get me wrong, mobile games are fun, but they’re also as addictive as candy itself. Let’s use candy and Candy Crush as some examples. Dopamine, the reward center of the brain, is basically when you become happy, like when you get first in a race, or complete an art project, or get a compliment on what you’re wearing. Dopamine is dope, to say the least.

Mobile games are fun, but they’re also as addictive as candy itself

Dopamine, however, is not all fine and dandy, as it’s also a pretty big gateway for addiction. As many of you people know, smoking and vaping do a lil’ thing called nicotine transfer. Let’s say a person is vaping a candy flavored mist. When they inhale, the nicotine enters the brain within (get this) ten seconds (FDA). It’s a spooky thought, but nothing could be more addictive than nicotine, right?

Sugar is way more addictive, and it’s in, guess what, candy. When you ingest candy (like a jelly bean) you get that delightful taste. But the point is, when you eat a jelly bean, a shot of dopamine zooms through your brain. Pretty nice, huh? Well, if you get more beans, dopamine receptors will shrink away, requiring eating more in order to get the same amount of dopamine that you got before.

But Candy Crush gives you lives to complete an objective. At the beginning, easy levels give you a hook. Later, the levels are still easy, until great challenges come ‘round at a quick pace. When those challenges come, you lose lives when you fail. The app will even taunt you, and then give you a retry option. Then you’re out of lives, and the game makes you wait two-and-a-half hours for all of them back (30 min each). Occasionally there are power ups of unlimited play. But, for the most part, you’re waiting to play again.

That waiting time makes you want to go back and win. And once you do, a shot of dopamine hits you. It’s so difficult that people will play more for that dopamine. Also, there are side quests, like unlocking enough candy of a certain type that you get a power up, like a super candy, or a lollipop hammer, which will clear a level faster. If you don’t pay attention to the side quest, you’ll still win a power up, because there are so many candies already.

There are upwards of 100 levels added every single week so that way, you’ll never win. And the biggest part? It’s free. So how do they make money? They get money from addicts purchasing unlimited plays, power ups, and more lives, just so they can beat that level, plus from all the time spent.

There are upwards of 100 levels added every single week so that way, you’ll never win.

This isn’t just Candy Crush. This is all sorts of mobile games, likely which you have on your phone. Wanna unlock that Crossy Road character Epoch? Then pay 99 cents, listen to five ads, or wait six hours to get an actually feasible amount of coins. You gotta wait. Long. This is mostly mobile games, not regular game consoles. Console games give you limited lives before you wait, and the games have endings.

But, you, the reader, can cure this disease yourself. Yes, it is classified as substance abuse and also as a disease by the World Health Organization (WHO).

First, ask these questions: Do I have trouble getting off Candy Crush (or other mobile games)?; Do I get enraged but keep playing and playing despite emotional triggers?; Have I purchased extra time/lives?; Do I do anything else as a hobby beside this game? If you answered “yes” to at least two of these questions, then you likely have it. I know I do, which is why these are questions I put down. I know these are signs of it.

Secondly, limit yourself. It’s okay to play a bit, but once a day is enough. Next, if you get enraged or freaked out about this game, QUIT THE GAME! You will get extra lives later, and that level will still be there. Your time will not — time you could spend doing a hobby, the third step. There are plenty of hobbies available. Hobbies are important, and give you something fun to do away from screens. I know that I sound like I’m from the 1900’s, but it’s true. Get a hobby, or continue yours.

Finally, don’t fall for the purchases. Let’s say this happened. “GET ONE MORE LOLLIPOP HAMMER WHEN YOU BUY THREE!” Yeah. Would you click that? If you did, you spent 1.99 dollars on a fictional item. That could have gone to charity, some real candy, food, your savings account, all real life things. And you spent precious, hard-earned money on a game. All of which will go to waste when you smash that hammer down.

Just stay strong, and avoid the brain candy.

Addiction. It’s horrible and feeds off of you. You are the target, and until you go off, you can live in this addiction. Just stay strong, and avoid the brain candy.

Charlie Miller, '22
Hi, this is Charlie Miller. You may know me through the hallways and through talking. I love mostly just drawing and becoming absorbed in music. Oh, and video games. Lots of those! I also, of course, write for the RamPage, mostly working on the Video Game Review columns, and doing some other fun articles on the way.