Monday, February 20, 2012

Fruit Ninja

Yesterday I had five minutes to spare, so I turned on the tablet and played a few quick games of Fruit Ninja.

An hour and a half later, I was still slicing simulated fruit in two by swiping my hands over a touchscreen. Fruit Ninja is terrifyingly addictive; with every game, I would say ‘just one more’ and then another game, and another, and another. The game is a little vicious; if you don’t do well to begin with, it starves you of the more exciting bonus fruit, and tosses only single fruit up at you to slice. If instead you start off strongly and slice a whole series of apples and oranges with a single swipe, the game flings more fruit at you, which means more chances to get combo bonuses and the sought-after bonus bananas. So it becomes more difficult, as there’s much more fruit flying around, but you have a much greater opportunity to get a high score.

Basically, Fruit Ninja and the GMAT employ the same mechanic; you have no chance in life if you’re hoping to redeem your early mistakes with diligent effort later on. Yet at the same time, luck plays a massive part. If the first fruit that is thrown up for you is a single apple, you don’t have the chance to start off with a big combo, and that means in turn it will take much longer before you can start to get big scores. Just as there is no second act in American lives, so it turns out that unless you begin with a good education and a stable background, and then carry on, avoiding bad decisions and unlucky twists of fate, you’re going to get stuffed.

I mean you’re not going to get a five hit fruit combo.

Perhaps that’s the same thing. It seems unfair that if you start off with a lemon, you’ll be stuck in the lemonade manufacture industry for life, but I suppose life doesn’t admit of fairness. Existence can be brutal and harsh, and perhaps you can claw your way up a bit, but since you have only 60 seconds of slicing fruit, there’s only limited time to make up for any mistakes. So Fruit Ninja is nasty and brutish, but at least it’s short…

So there I was, thinking that Fruit Ninja would be a fun way to waste a few hours chopping up fruit, and I find that I’m just in the middle of a metaphor for the unfairness and difficulty of life. If I’d known that to begin with, maybe I’d have played Farmville instead.

I wonder if this means that by analogy, GMAT tests are addictive. Or people go bananas playing them. Or if there’s a market in adapting Sun Tzu’s Art Of War for a Fruit Ninja-obsessed audience. What a curious life this is.


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