Kim Kardashian won't stop calling me. Ever since I let her go shopping after hours at the So Chic boutique in downtown L.A., she's been trying to return the favor by hooking me up with an agent, inviting me to photo shoots and setting me up on awkward dates. Needless to say, I'm well on my way to making money and becoming famous for doing nothing.
At least, that's the premise of Kardashian: Hollywood, the free mobile app released by Glue Games Inc. last month.
The game starts out like a nightmarish version of real L.A. life.: players choose an avatar, work a menial day job, and ride the Metro chasing celebrities all day while dodging sleazy landlords and bosses. You can only float around downtown L.A. (working overtime in retail just to make ends meet) until you've advanced to the next level and unlocked access to Hollywood (where the Hollywood sign has been replaced with a Kardashian logo), Beverly Hills (where there's not much to do except go to fancy restaurants and wander around Kim's mansion), LAX (where you can fly to Miami, Las Vegas and New York) and, finally, the Kardashian mecca itself: Calabasas.
The game's notion that downtown, Hollywood and Beverly Hills are the only neighborhoods in L.A. — and that you can instantly access them all by bus — isn't the only bad, if at times idealistic, stereotype about our city that Kardashian: Hollywood reinforces. Here are ten more of the game's worst offenders.
10. Everyone in L.A. is trying to succeed in Hollywood.
It's literally the premise of Kardashian: Hollywood. We're still not exactly sure how to succeed at this game, but it seems to involve answering phone calls from Kim, going on photo shoots and accepting sub-par modeling opportunities from out-of-touch agents that Kim sets you up with. Just roll it with it, and you'll be on a plane to Miami in no time. (Spoiler alert: It's only to work at Kim's store, which is called Kardash Miami.)
9. Everyone in L.A. is superficial and materialistic.
Kardashian: Hollywood constantly prompts you to update your wardrobe, “kustomize” your look (including altering the shape and size of your physical attributes — isn't that convenient?) and buy new clothes and accessories. Kim's character even dishes out advice such as: “Changing your look and buying nice clothes can get you noticed by the media.” Well, that and releasing your own sex tape.
8. In L.A., you can work your way from a “nobody” to an “A-list” celebrity in no time.
You might be an E-list celebrity in L.A., but at least you don't have to wear a label that constantly reminds you of your sub-par celebrity status, like you do in Kardashian: Hollywood. Your avatar starts out as a nobody, and you've got to network your ass off just to achieve “E-list” status, which is displayed in the right-hand corner of the screen at all times, along with an on-screen to-do list that keeps your eyes on the prize: “Become a D-List Celebrity.” (Kim, of course, is an A-lister.) In Kardashian: Hollywood, the struggle is real.
7. In L.A., you can buy your way anywhere.
Don't have enough money or “star” power to purchase new clothes? Just buy more fake money with real money in Kardashian: Hollywood. Much like Snoop Dogg's Snoopify app, Kardashian: Hollywood also lets you purchase digital accessories for real money. (At $4.99 in actual dollars for $5,000 of pixel-based money, it's nearly a 1,000 percent discount. Then again, a pair of high heels costs about $4,000 in this game, and those heels are completely made of pixels — so you do the math.)
6. In L.A., you must be peppy, friendly and energized at all times.
Sometimes in real life, you get tired, you don't feel like going out, and you end up falling asleep on the couch watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians at 8 p.m on a Friday. But in Kardashian: Hollywood, you've actually got to keep up with Ms. Kardashian-West herself. Which means you must constantly answer phone calls from agents and agree to photo shoots for crappy products. When you show up to the photo shoot, you might just receive an error message: “You're too tired. You don't have enough energy to do that. Would you like to get more?” And so you get more energy, which means either actually pulling out real currency (read: not pixels) and making an in-app purchase of more stars (read: pixels) or trudging back to So Chic boutique and begging your boss to let you fold more shirts so you can buy more things (because energy is a thing, and that's how the economy works.)
5. In L.A. it's all about who you know and what they can do for you.
Kim served as a creative adviser for the game, which basically means that the only way players can advance in the game is by being nice to her character so that she'll give you free shit. She also frequently dispenses prolific advice such as: “Charming people will usually get the best result,” “Dating costs money, but it's a quick way to level up!” and “Getting new clothes, cars, and homes can increase your star power for love and work.”
4. Hollywood is the geographic center of Los Angeles
In Kardashian: Hollywood, Hollywood is more than just a state of mind; it's a place where celebrities gather to toast to their success at Brew Palms (a spin-off of actually Hollywood bar Blue Palms?), meet with publicity teams at the fictional CTM Management office and get lured into buying pricey condos by realtors who simply won't back down. It's also home to Mirimount Pictures, whose name is an obvious combination of Miramax and Paramount. But don't get too excited: the doors of this A-list office are locked — until you can raise you star status enough to sneak inside. Hollywood is also the geographic epicenter of Los Angeles and the ultimate transportation hub in this game, where you can get shuttled back and forth to Beverly Hills in an instant — on a Metro bus! Wishful thinking, Kim.
3. Everyone in L.A. is flaky and passive-agressive.
Kim is the worst offender at being vague and passive-aggressive in Kardashian: Hollywood. She'll call you at all hours of the day offering you opportunities, but she's never clear and direct about what exactly they are or what time to meet her. She'll send you push-notifications on your cell phone begging you to come back and play the game, but once you log back in to Kardashian: Hollywood, it's never clear what exactly your goals are. It's like being stuck in some terrible Kardashian Purgatory in which the only way you can survive is by adding phone numbers to your contact list (yes, this is part of the game) and praying that one day you might be elevated to D-level status. “And who knows… maybe one day you'll have your own show too,” Kim says.
2. In L.A., you'll get harassed by models, “nerdy sitcom writers,” paparazzi and adorable pets.The classic L.A. stereotype is that all servers are just struggling actors waiting for their big break. In Kardashian: Hollywood, everyone you interact with is either waiting for their big break, helping you find yours or trying to knock you down. Go to a bar in Hollywood, and you'll meet models named Dirk, guys with pink hair and eyebrows, rude middle-aged paparazzi, set designers who think they're celebrities and a trash-talking starlet named Willow Pape, who uses words like “hashtag” in real life and trashes you on Twitter (not the real Twitter, but a Kardashian: Hollywood version of it that constantly updates with a live feed — because managing your social media in real life isn't annoying enough.) When you really get sick of it all, you can always adopt that cute mangy kitten that's always hanging out in front of Pop Glam magazine in downtown L.A.
But wait, that'll cost you 20 stars. Would you like to make an in-app purchase of $4.99?
1. Come to L.A. and you'll immediately meet celebrities who want to mentor you.
More than anything, Karashian: Hollywood perpetuates the stereotype that you can move to L.A., work a retail job, and eventually work your way up the Hollywood ladder to achieve D-lister status. (Let's be realistic: not everyone can be a Kardashian-level A-lister.) Part of the magic of living in Los Angeles is that we're a city filled with uber-talented “A-list” creatives. But let's face it: just because you run into them at the Coffee Bean doesn't mean they want to be your mentor, hook you up with an agent and get you modeling gigs. That only happens in Kardashian: Hollywood.
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