Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lucifer's Zoo

It started out completely innocuous. I guess it always does. I was looking for some new iPad games for the boy and came across one called Tiny Zoo. I can remember playing The Sims a million years ago on a computer the size of a dining room table. I downloaded it thinking the boy would enjoy having his own virtual zoo. Because I'm always right, he thoroughly enjoyed it. I even created my own zoo so I could follow along with him.

Look how cute this seems!

Within a few hours, the boy became a crack addict, not able to step away from the iPad for more than a few minutes at a time. His hands were shaking and he was sputtering phrases like, "I'll stop playing as soon as I buy just one more animal. I can quit anytime." and "I need a camel. I can quit after I buy just one camel. Or two. I just need two."

I never played Farmville because I heard it was from the devil. Now I'm sitting in the devil's lap picking bugs out of his beard.

Now my kid has to join a twelve step program for his virtual zoo addiction. When am I supposed to find time to chauffeur him to and from Tiny Zoo Anonymous meetings? I don't think the boy can even read the word affirmation.

I laid down the law and made him go to bed on time-ish the other night instead of staying up for the birth of his baby musk ox. In the real world, I assume a mama musk ox births her newborn and goes about her day. Not so at the Tiny Zoo. If someone is not up waiting for the birth of said ox, there are grave consequences. I woke up the next morning to the boy clutching the iPad with an accusatory look in his eye. "No one was there when my musk ox was born and now he's sick. I have to pay money to get him out of the animal hospital." Freaking great. I had to pay a buck to get the damn ox out of the infirmary.

This is how it's been for over a week now. The freaking app is nickel & diming me to death. Between all the unintentional beaver jokes and constantly having to shell out ninety-nine cents for one thing or another, I hate this freaking app.

This woman is Satan. Is there a Tiny Hitman game?

I now have to carry the iPad around with me everywhere so the animals are constantly monitored. I've had to wake up in the middle of the night for the scheduled birth of a new baby. I'm the bitterest midwife ever, muttering, "Why won't you just freaking die already?" under my breath.

I don't know nothing about birthing babies!

I'm not really sure how to get myself out of this hole. It's not like the iPad can just "lose" its batteries. That was my go-to parenting trick when he was younger. I've even thought about telling the boy that all his animals got rabies and I had to call in Atticus Finch to clean up the mess. (Go ahead and engrave that Mother of the Year award.) This damn zoo is like a gang. Is there a button I can click somewhere that says "I'd like to be beat out, please?"

I'm open to suggestions. Does anyone have experience with either virtual zoos or deprogramming a cult member? I would sit here and wait for your responses, but I'm expecting a baby kangaroo any minute.


  1. I won't even play Angry Birds. If I allow one more huge time-suck into my life, I'll wind up living on the streets.

  2. I once had a Facebook, and it was a nice land...and then my mother joined FB and discovered Farmville, Cafe World, Cityville and some world where she can pretend she's living Little House on the Prarie. My FB page has been hijacked by a 63 year old woman on crack!

    I'm always calling her at work and asking who the hell just added me as a friend. "Oh, that was my old next door neighbor when I lived on the farm in Nebraska when I was 4"...yeah...addicted

    She even accidentaly charged my debit card to pay for something on one of these games. I found it hilarious, she was humiliated. There will be an A&E Facebook Intervention and I will be the first person to throw my family under the bus with a big shit eating grin on my face.

  3. Yeah, I've got plenty of things going on right now... I also avoid known addictive substances. Just like I avoided Twilight until the summer of '09 while I was recovering from major surgery figuring I'd have time to read the books and would be done by the time I recovered. We all know how that worked out.

    PS: I block all apps I see on Facebook and block people who send me friend requests to their games. I'm ruthless about it, but that way I can still chat with friends and not worry about getting sucked in to another cult.

  4. Print a certificate and mail it to him telling him that he won the Zoo Game, and put a $20 gift certificate to Toys R Us in there (not cash, that he could use to buy something from iPad store, in theory). "Sorry, son, the iPad store doesn't take Toys R Us gift cards, and Mama doesn't have any more money to buy you another iPad game." Off to the old-fashioned bricks and mortar store you go!

    w/v extort... I think this game is extorting money from you. Game: 1, TK: 0.

  5. @Rikki_DD--OMG that's so funny! I'm laughing with you, not at you. Ok, that's a lie. I'm totally laughing at your pain.

  6. @My After Car--That's kind of brilliant.

  7. Send yourself an anon email from the "developer" stating that the game is going to be down because there is a virus loose. Kids understand viruses (everything gets sick and dies). So while they are trying to kill the virus and save the animals you can show him the "new, really fun, and best of all TOTALLY FREE app" that you found. Yeah, find one quick. Maybe something with zombies. Boys love killing zombies, right? Maybe "Vampire Wars" on FB (it's totally free) and join a clan (Cullens?). heehee Just move quick because time is of the essence. My daughter tries to get my debit card for her crap all of the time. NO WAY! I won't even pay to upgrade my familiar (Lynx).

  8. And I thought my fan fiction addiction was bad!

    Sorry for your luck, TK. Maybe you can introduce him to Twitter?

  9. And with that comment, @MyAfterCar is officially ready to be a Mom!! Excellent answer!!

  10. TK, my 8 year old daughter was beginning to get addicted to several games on my iPhone (and the 4 year old was rapidly following suit). First I blocked all in-app purchases so I didn't end up with a $400 debit card charge for them buying new accessories for their pet hotel. That eased my mind for a bit. However, last week they deleted my organizer. MY ORGANIZER -- with all my friggin' appointments in it. (Grrrrr). To my credit, I did not get mad at them. This was MY fault for letting them play with a $300 gadget. So I banished them from the iPhone entirely. Yep, they're going cold turkey. That makes me the biggest bitch ever, they don't even get to taper off or get a gift certificate to TRU. Cold. But I got my iPhone back. ;)

  11. OMG TK! You accidently dropped your iPad and the only thing lost was Tiny Zoo. That is awful! Its so weird that you can't download it again because the app store still thinks you have it. Oh well, I guess TK Jr. will have to settle for an ice cream cone & a new hot wheel as a substitute for his aforementioned crack dealer, I mean, game. Tuff luck TK Jr. :)

    ps - My 5 yo is addicted to his XBox & plays lego Indiana Jones so much he hums the theme song without realizing it.

  12. OME, if The Sims had been one of these games/apps where you had to constantly buy things using real money, I would have EASILY bankrupted my parents when I was 17. Yes, I was THAT exciting.

    I have no advice, but I hope you can get beat out of the Tiny Zoo. I wish a Tiny Pummeling unto you. ;-) Oh, and, uh... what @MyAfterCar said. :)

  13. still looking for my vampJuly 7, 2011 at 1:09 AM

    Ditto on the Lego Indiana Jones with my six year old.

    The other day he asked me to play with him. I, of course, got to be Indie, because he was HOT and mommy had a huge crush on him. After I ran around for a while, jumped in a car, crashed some stuff, then got in a plane and parachuted out, I asked my son what the point of all this was.

    Insert eye roll. "Mom, its just COOL."

    Okay, on another topic, I just found out that said 6 year old is playing God of War with his 8 & 9 year old cousins at his grandmas. I'm pretty certain grandma doesn't have a clue what is going on as the mom is living ther.
    I am really upset by this as it is 17+ rated. Looked at some of the youtube stuff, and it looks pretty gory/bloody. Mother of 8&9 year old is a real piece of work (being kind in a vague way).

    So here's my question: should I be upset? Am I over reacting?? Is this the norm now and I am just too fucking old to be a parent to a six year old?? Please, help me out here!

  14. @stilllookingformyvamp - I would be upset! I dont let my son play M or 17+ rated games. I play them, but I dont have an overactive imagination that manifests itself at 2:45am in the form of horrid, mentally scaring nightmares. I would have a serious talk with the "mom" of 8&9 yos regarding the fact that you set the boundaries for your child & expect her to respect them, period.

  15. Announcing the 2011 Mother of the Year: @myaftercar! Nice work! I think you might be ready!

    Good luck TK. I can hardly drag myself away from Fruit Ninja long enough to tweet/blog/read ff. It's a bitch when one has to choose between addictions... but hey, it's not heroin, so we're alright.

  16. I feel it is necessary to save these comments and print and bind them into a handbook for future reference...

  17. It is so easy to get sucked into those stupid games. I once played Tetris into the wee hours of the night. When I checked the mirror in the morning, my eyelids were swollen. That was a clue that I had overdone it a bit.

    My kids & I got addicted to Roller Coaster Tycoon, we could play that for hours and hours but at least it didn't cost anything other than the price of the game.

    I like My After Car's suggestion but depending on how old/savvy your boy is, he may not believe the "you've won!" line. Why not just level with him? Tell him you can't keep shelling out money for this game. Offer him some alternatives. They usually get bored with these games eventually and would jump at the chance for new entertainment.

    Good luck.

  18. It's the perfect pay off for finishing his chores!
    We have to nag our son to do his chores for $4 a week. I know he would tackle them each morning if it meant he could play on the Ipad.
    The longer he waits the more babies may kick it.

  19. I get totally addicted to games like that. I played Farmville for a month and it almost ruined me. I finally forced myself to never, ever go back to there.

    About 10 years ago my roommates at the time bought the Sims and we somehow found some code that gave us infinite amounts of money. If the Sims is any indication, that saying "money doesn't buy happiness" is totally true because my Sims were such miserable bastards, no matter what I did. They just wandered around crying and being sad. I eventually gave up trying to make them happy and just decided to make their lives hellish by doing things like putting them in the swimming pool and removing the ladder, or waiting until they went into a room and blocking over the door. I'm mean, I know.

  20. @Lila - I do the same exact thing!

    I block all apps. The people that are my "friends" that send me only invites to those games also get removed from my friends. I also try to remove any spam posted on my FB wall. I hate all that stuff. Waste of time when all I want to do is talk to other people.

    @TK - I have no children so I am completely without advice on this suject. I do have to say that @MyAfterCar sounds like she has a GREAT plan of attack. :-)

  21. Thanks yall :) I don't know what this says about what kind of parent I'll be, but hell, those little people will try any trick in the book to get what they want out of an adult - why can't we fight fire with fire?

  22. Well what did you expect? Zoos, and their ilk, ARE evil!

    Hopefully this will teach him you should never imprison animals. Or not to try crack. Hopefully both...

  23. Oregon Trail. Boom. Solution. Your animals die and there isn't shit you can do about it. If your ox gets malaria, that's your bad.

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  25. Uninstall the app.

    Have a talk with him explaining that the game isn't going to work for you guys because of the time and money commitment.

    Help him choose a game that is completely free, and that has levels.

    Give him a time limit to play each day, and let him know, when the time is up, he gets to finish up the level he's on without dawdling, and it's done for the day.

    Good luck!!!

  26. @JJ - we used to torment our park visitors on the Rollercoaster Tycoon games that we had no chance of winning - remove all the restrooms and exits, fire the cleanup crew so the paths were filled with barf and trash. When they got all angry and wanted to leave, we'd pick them up and drop them in the lake. That was satisfying in a totally sick and twisted way.

    TK - don't lie to the little guy about this. Molly has a great suggestion. It's good that kids get a lesson in the value of a buck. When you've spent $20 bucks on this game, what does he have to show for it? Compare that to a toy of the same value that he loves to play with or movies that he watches over and over, or lunch at his favorite restaurant. These are things that give value for your money, not a game that gets to be a real pain in the arse.

  27. Hey TK - why don't you just turn him onto Tiny Night Club so he can become well-versed in the world of hookers and blow.

  28. I am really anti-video games just for this reason. My 5 year old is BEGGING me for a Wii, but everytime I ask him to turn off & he loses his fucking mind, I remember why it is NEVER going to happen. Video games are the root of all (ok, maybe not all, but a lot of) evil.
    Good luck with that.

  29. @My After Car - that's diabolical but

    @(Molly) Twinatic - I think that's got to be the most responsible thing to do. I always try to be truthful and upfront with my kids and they are very well rounded. I find that *usually* (and there are always those caviats when hunger or lack of sleep etc take over) when the kids have a melt down it's usually because I have pulled a fast one on them or haven't taken the time to explain things to them.

    @Sabrina (Twilight Junkie) - I can see that avoiding video games can prevent some "issues" with kids, but it can also be a great learning experiance. Not only can a parent learn to work with kids to set boundaries, but there have been a lot of recent studies that show that video games can be good for kids.

    Myths about video games debunked:

    Gamers make better doctors and scientists:

    Gamers make the best drone pilots (to me, this is a big DUH):

    Action video gamers better at making quick decisions:

    Some things to think about!

  30. @Lila I agree wholeheartedly that video games do have a place in our kids lives. The key to everything though is moderation, right? You have to balance out their time in front of the screen with other creative activities. My son had a strong interest in all things electronic since he was a toddler. We put him on the computer at 18 months with some educational and art software.

    It has really paid off for us now because it's like having our own Geek Squad 24/7. He can fix any computer/printer issue we have, install all new electronics, program phones, tell us what upgrades are needed etc. So, I have to be really nice to him Or I'm up Shit's Creek.

    Bonus, he's 17 and just landed a web programming job so he's making good money now and hopefully will be able to buy himself a college education.

    You want your kids to be honest & respectful with you, you have to treat them with honesty & respect.

  31. I don't know about this zoo game but I do play farmville. My only advice is to only breed animals that take a day and only play once a day. If that's not an option go with the certificate that he won the game.

    Good luck.

  32. @still looking for my vamp:

    Yes, you should be upset, not only is it an M rated game, that's reason enough to be upset, but God of War is one of a few games that is decidedly M with a reason. It's a game I'd have reservations about letting a 16 year-old-play, let alone young kids. Maybe I'm just over-protective, but, if just the gore you've seen via YouTube is discomforting, I think we're in the same camp. First: be sure which title it is, since GoW is a series of games. Then check this chart out, or just the ESRB site in general. Good info.


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