Hay Day Anonymous meetings are Tuesdays at 9pm in McGinley 2nd
by Tatiana Rampersaud
Everybody with an ounce of technology within reach has played a video game at least once. It is a common pastime where games such as Call of Duty and the more recent Fortnite have captivated the nation’s reality-deprived youth. I am not a huge video game fan, but I have downloaded a few games onto my phone in the past. My latest download was Hay Day, a game I played with my friends in middle school but eventually retired.
One day over winter break, I excavated my DS from my closet and rediscovered all the games I used to play as a child. It was a nostalgic trip. I ended up giving the console to my five-year-old sister who would make good use of it. The discovery I had made brought back a wave of distant childhood memories like Mario Kart, Club Penguin, etcetera. This is where Hay Day comes in. I thought to myself, “I haven’t played video games in so long….. I think I remember that farm game being fun.”
Upon opening the app and clicking past the introduction as one always does, I frantically entered every possible email and password combination to try to revive my ancient farm. I remembered having made it to a really high level…. somewhere in the hundreds. After confronting the grief of losing a virtual farm, I mustered up the courage to start a new one, from scratch. I had a few plots for gardening and one chicken. I did not think much of it. I harvested wheat and fed my lone chicken, and that was life. Soon enough, I leveled up, which encouraged me to keep playing. I now had wheat and corn and one chicken turned into a complete coop of chickens and an enclosure of cows. I was on a roll, going from level one to level six in a single day.
In Hay Day, crops, produce, and products are all available after specified amounts of time that range from a minute and a half to over a day. From the moment you plant the seeds, feed the animals, and start the machines, the results are available in real time. There are also orders and shipments that can be completed for coins which enables you to purchase items and eventually to level up and unlock even more new features. All entities that a farmer produces must be coordinated and ready at the same time or by a certain time in order to satisfy the demands each level presents.
Because of the illusion of urgency that this game presents, I found myself setting up the dairy factory, sugar mill, feed mill, and increasingly infinite quantities of machinery waking up and before I went to sleep to keep my farm efficient and productive. Imagine sitting in class and not being able to focus because you are thinking about whether or not your virtual eggs will sell on the newspaper since you are greedy and charged full price. Imagine checking your phone every few minutes like a maniac to see if your electronic cheese is finally ready so you can complete that truck order and make some fake money. The saddest part may be taking pride in my flourishing, fake garden while I am sitting at my desk next to my shriveled easy-care houseplant. This game had me scrolling through an artificial newspaper for twenty minutes straight in frivolous pursuit of a “rare” nail.
Hay Day is extremely well thought-out: it presents a specific amount of abilities at every level and requires the perfect amount of time and energy towards the next mesmerizing upgrades that you get absolutely hooked. It had me, a non-gamer girl, franticly refreshing and constantly concerned as if this farm were a real part of my life, all in an effort to achieve the illusion of possessing lavish, perfect property and a hefty bank account while the real me remains in a triple, unemployed.
The obsession I had to this game dragged me into a sad cycle, altering what I spent my time on in reality. I remembered why I deleted the game in middle school, as the same phenomena haunted me today. I first told myself that I would keep the game since I made so much progress and that it was too late to turn back. I would only keep the game for times of utter boredom in public in an effort to avoid social interaction (great plan, I know). I quickly realized that idea was not going to work just like how I tell myself I will only close my eyes for one more minute after my alarm goes off, yet I continue to wake up an hour later. I was convincing myself that I was bored and had time, like when I was taking a walking break on the treadmill and I had told myself I had absolutely nothing more to do than check the game.
I knew the gravity of the situation, although I did not immediately want to admit it to myself since it seemed so absurd. What really changed my mind was imagining the possibilities of having that time open, instead of spending it on something entirely useless and fake. I thought of using the time to remind my family that I am thinking of them. To spend the time sketching out future masterpieces. Even just to gather all the scattered minutes and add them onto my time at the gym. After way too much thought and consideration, I hastily deleted Hay Day and have since downloaded Duolingo so I can gradually learn French instead. Everyday my tragic obsession with Hey Day lessens and lessens, leaving me with more time for productivity. My advice to game addicts like me, or even addicts from different areas, is to really sit down and think of all the potential that your time and energy has and what it can do for you and especially for other people.