The Things We Fill Our Precious Cranium, or Soothe Our Troubled Heart With

For those who read the last Urban Chat and offered condolences, thank you. I found them very comforting as my friend’s body returned to Indonesia last week and I finally got to say good bye and move through my grieving process.

Several years ago my first yoga teacher taught a simple trick to quiet our mind so we could get into proper resting mode before bedtime. She advised a lighthearted activity like easy reading; amusing enough to focus our mind for fatigue to set in, yet not engaging enough to stay up all night for. Though I rarely had sleeping problems that lesson stuck with me and, lo and behold, became very handy in the difficult past weeks.

Yet it wasn’t an easy reading material. It was a few online games. Yes, go ahead and laugh and no, I’m not talking about Candy Crush.                                                                                                                                                         

Almost a year ago I eventually yielded to the temptation flashed by ad banner in the Twitter client on my iPad. I installed my first game. It was a free online home building game, and I soon understood the catch. The animation was eye-pleasing and the challenges were fun—any décor junkie, or anyone with OCD for that matter, would love it.

Right off Cross Selling 101 handbook the game provider subsequently offered me their other wares. That’s when I finally discovered my first gem, the Fashion Story. Before you condescendingly throw the “Yeah, of course any self-proclaimed fashionista would love that” eye roll, let me clarify that this is NOT a shopping game. It’s about how to successfully running a boutique. The key to advance level, win challenges or afford fancy displays, all the while avoiding using your credit card to ‘buy’ your win, is by ensuring that the boutique earns profit in timely manner and is continuously fully-stocked, and since the order system features different volume size, ordering price, selling price, and delivery lead time for each wardrobe set, that’s when math and accounting kick in (FIFO, anyone?).

Yes, I’m proud to acknowledge that years after leaving corporate world I finally got employ Operational Management again. Or as Mom wryly commented, finally made a good use of my hard-earned business degree for some online game.

The game allows buddy system, but it wasn’t until Level 25, when it was getting very tricky to advance alone, that I started to accept ‘neighbors’. Considering its nature, most players are women and, as I discovered through messages we sometimes left on each other’s wall, professionally working adults (what, you expected dysfunctional teenagers or muumuu-wearing couch potatoes?). I’ve stumbled upon night-shift nurses, creative ad folks, traveling sales execs, and once, a retired Army doctor who was introduced to the game by his wife as he was recuperating from a surgery (beat the Army hospice’s TV, he wrote). We’re all united by our hobbies for décor or fashion, our drive to win, and as we’re going through our real live, the occasional need to fully focus on a simple guilty pleasure.

Even if they’re dysfunctional, muumuu-wearing couch potatoes in real life, as some of you cynics would insist, it wouldn’t matter. We take turns helping each other through game challenges and, upon occasional absences would inquire the neighbor’s well-being— camaraderie shown by complete strangers is still camaraderie. I’m currently on Level 75 and a bit sad to realize that the game doesn’t continue beyond Level 99.

Last month Cross Selling 101 worked its charm again as I discovered the newly-launched Covet Fashion. Created by a company already running a popular fashion styling game, Covet Fashion takes the cake as it uses… drumroll, please… real fashion finds.

Gone are amateurish animations and kooky avatars—the wardrobe come straight from real designers’ latest collections and shown in high-res picture quality, while the avatars befit the page of fashion magazines. There are no levels to advance to—instead, players are scored based on ensembles/looks submitted to be voted randomly and anonymously by other players. When a look receives four stars the player wins an off-catalog piece to be added to the player’s wardrobe—for sponsored events, a real fashion prize is given to highest-scored and most-liked look.

The looks are set over a backdrop suitable to themes ranging from attending anniversary party, outdoor summer concert, Moroccan souq, African safari park, yacht party off Amalfi Coast, Game of Thrones audition, Getty Museum’s new exhibition opening to cruising Route 66 and visiting the royal baby in London. You get to feel like a real stylist. In fact, Hollywood’s go-to stylist Rachel Zoe has judged on a couple of the events herself. Just to blow my own trumpet a bit, with the current score of 3.94, I’m merely a notch below the Top 20 Global Players who scored between 4.30 – 4.16. Hey, perhaps I’ve got a new career unfurling here.

So yes, my name is Lynda Ibrahim, I’m a thirtysomething professional, I have a real social life and I’m hooked into certain online games. They’ve effectively proven to quiet my nosy and, lately, an inconsolable mind. Now excuse me, I’ve got to create a look suitable for an Amsterdam bike ride.

As published:

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