When you stare into the Kylie and Kendall app, the app stares also

By Alex Heigl
Updated February 17, 2016 04:00 PM
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Credit: Glu Mobile

Kylie and Kendall Jenner have a new app out from Glu. Based on their sister Kim’s successful game, it consists of social network tie-ins, in-app purchases and a storyline that throws you into the fast-paced world of the Jenners.

Here’s the part where I confess something about myself: Until a little while ago, I didn’t know which one was Kylie and which one was Kendall. I knew one of them was dating a rapper while not being 18, and another was a model or something.

Also, the last game I had on my phone was Scramble With Friends, which means I’m tremendously behind both the app and Kardashian/Jenner curve, making me the perfect candidate for this game.

Also, my default mood in life is “undifferentiated scorn” with just a pinch of unending, bone-deep sadness. Let’s do this.

The first thing I did in the game was create an avatar. Cruelly, the game refused to give me the option of selecting eyeglasses, but all my coworkers said it looks exactly like me regardless. (The flannel and ripped black jeans help.) Fun fact: If you’re not doing anything in the game, all the characters just randomly take out their phones and stare at them, just like in real life!

This is how my journey began:

I already take issue with this. To my mind, the East Coast is the only coast: I have nothing but distaste for California and its culture. All anyone does when they come back from there is talk about the tacos. The East Coast has Pizza Rat and Florida and my home state of Pennsylvania, so we win. In between, I guess there are a lot of farms and insurrectionists. But I digress.

This is my landlord. She already seems to be engaged in some kind of power play with me …

… but she also isn’t very smart, so I’m pretty sure I’ve got this.

Debbie Rose gets me a job at a salon. Outside the salon, there was a pigeon. I tapped it, and it gave me some money, which has never happened in real life. When I met the owner of the salon and one of the workers, they asked me to introduce myself. The game wanted to name me Stan; I declined.

I should probably mention at this point that the game is primarily driven by your quest for fame, but there are all kinds of little side goals you can complete for money and power and whatnot. I helped my coworker make a vlog and earned some spending money, with which I bought sunglasses. (California is bright.) You’re also encouraged to constantly post on social media in this game – again, just like real life.

Meet Logan. Logan is a huge jerk and your primary nemesis in the game, and I’m looking forward to poisoning him. This did not become an option during my 40 minutes of game play, even though I’m sure it happens all the time in Santa Monica. (And at Chipotle.)

Eventually – blah blah blah this is taking so long – you meet Kylie and Kendall. We hit it off immediately – Kylie and I especially seem to have some serious chemistry.

In the future, I foresee our smoldering interactions interfering with my budding relationship with server Andrea Wallace, with whom I went on a date to the beach. Gonna cross that bridge when we come to it, I guess.

At one point, I took a selfie with Kendall.

You can do different things with Kylie and Kendall, and you’re rewarded with real-life video and audio of the pair. This is a freeze-frame from a short video of Kendall saying that it was nice meeting me; it looks like it was recorded under duress and is a prime example of why Kylie and I get along much better.

Eventually, my social posts start doing well, and I get invited to a party of Kylie and Kendall, which infuriates Logan. I’m pleased that he’s unhappy, but still intend to poison him whenever the game presents this as an option.

The game gives you various ways to interact with people. You can be a sassy, lazy person who refuses to help any of the other characters and bullies their way through interactions, but I choose to believe California Alex is a positive can-doer and therefore chose to be unrelentingly polite and supportive to everyone, which seemed to be working pretty well before I quit the game.

My takeaway is that the game forces you down the fantasy/wish-fulfillment/Death of the American Dream path of pursuing a life of leisure and fame at the expense of developing anything in the way of an actual personality or skill set. It bolsters this with the ability to buy pre-ripped jeans with your real money for your fake avatar.

It’s obviously well-constructed and designed to get you to spend your money and time with a kind of ruthless efficiency – even though profits for Kim’s game fell far short of the estimated $200 million it was initially forecasted to make, you don’t make $75 million by building crappy games – but that just made me feel worse about spending 40 minutes on it. Ultimately, I would rather listen to Black Messiah again. Maybe I’ll even post about it on Instagram.