A top-class celebrity, fashion guru, wife to Kanye West, and daughter of the most well-known family in the world are only a few labels of the famous Kim Kardashian.
But why would I be bringing up Kim Kardashian in a blog about controversial video games?
This is because Kim Kardashian as a business mogul is constantly looking for other platforms to grow her name. And she has now turned to the video gaming world with her phone app – Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. This app blew up after its release in 2014 and has only grown in the following years making over $100 million in revenue with over 42 million downloads according to an article in Fortune.
Kim Kardashian has been a controversial figure in the media ever since she hit it big with her sex tape. With the creation of her own video game, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, that takes the player through their personal version of Kim’s life, many issues have been raised surrounding the game. In this blog I will discuss the issues of body image, obsession for fame, and the blur between fantasy and reality.
The Methodology Behind Kim K.
Kim Kardshashian: Hollywood is available on both Android and Apple phones, iPad and the iPod touch. I chose to play this game on my Apple iPhone which allowed me to play anywhere and at anytime throughout the day. On average I probably played about 10-15 minute intervals about 3-4 times a day.
You only have the option of playing as yourself, but you are offered many different options for what kinds of missions and tasks you want to take on. Your agent, other celebrities, your boyfriend/girlfriend and Kim Kardashian herself take you on trips to Italy and Australia, throw parties at the hottest clubs and do photo shoots for the best of the best magazines. There is no “beating the game”. You simply just want to be the best and then maintain your status. From the time that I have been playing for the past week, I am only on level 9 and have moved up one spot on the list to become a D-list celebrity (which I will explain more later on).
This game is a tap and click game. The actions they have you do are, “kiss”, “change clothes”, “buy a drink”, and much more. The game does not allow you to actually do the action, you simply just tap the bar and your energy does down. You do have the availability to fly, take buses, or interact with others, but that is all done with a tap of your finger and no other controls.
The mechanics of Kim Kardashian: Hollywood are not complex at all, but the affect that this game has on young minds, is larger than what people realize.
The Kontroversy and Katastrophe
As I mentioned before, the 3 overlying controversies I found was: issues of body image, obsession for fame and the blur between fantasy and reality.
Kut the Krap
Negative body image defined by Barlett is “a way of thinking and feeling about one’s body that negatively influences the person’s self-esteem, body esteem, and body satisfaction” (2008). The technology we have now, reaches a much larger audience than ever before, and this mass media is detrimental to both men and woman.
Many believe this is only relatable to woman who have body expectations of big breast and a skinny waist, and while the Kim Kardashian game does encourage this look, the men are sculpted to perfection as well.
These two people are the characters you play as in the game, only as a male or female. And just at a quick glance you can see that these avatars portray the expected and praised body type for men and woman. With only one body type it’s surprising that the game allows you to change virtually anything!
An article from Bustle said, “Pick from 42 different hairstyles and eight hair colors. There’s also five different face shapes, eye types, lip sizes, and noses to choose from. You can pick from a rainbow of makeup shades and nail polish colors” and much more. With all of these different options, why aren’t there any for expanding the hips or making the avatar shorter or breasts smaller? That’s because this game praises the media’s ideal body type.
Kim Kardashian has been known to promote loving your curves and a positive body image, but her game does not reflect what she stands for.
Fame is the Name of the Game
Having the perfect body, stems from living in the spotlight. Kim Kardashian: Hollywood is all about being the best and having the biggest fan base.
Popularity has been something that everyone has strived for since kindergarten and it isn’t any different now as adults. Only now we have social media to help count and show off to others the amount of followers, likes and comments. And this game has incorporated this feature as well.
An article on the website, A.V. Realm, explained the fame aspect of the game pretty accurately, “The world of the game is the world of celebrity, a small bubble of super-rich people who are all competing with each other to get noticed.” Even your agent, Maria, tells you constantly that you need to be on top when it especially comes to your love live. Almost none of the choices you make are your own because the people around you are pressuring you into being the best.
In the upper right hand corner of the screen, there is the constant reminder of how many “fans” you have. After every photo shoot, date, celebrity appearance, etc. your fan base grows and you move up on the “list”. But why should fame be the driving force of a video game?
Fame has always been a controversial issue because it teaches the young mind that you don’t need anything else except the love of others. In Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, marrying another celebrity is key to excelling in the game. Of course, dating happens in real life and this game is showing others what’s the “norm for dating”
Fame shouldn’t start with a boyfriend or girlfriend. As I am playing, my “boyfriend” Steven, is constantly calling me asking to hangout and buy him gifts and take him on dates. Sometimes, if I am not dressed appropriately, he will actually insult my outfit and make me change. Is this the kind of image we want to impose on young kids that the dating world is like?
Fantasy vs. Reality
The world that Kim Kardashian has created in her game is casting a light on the negative aspects of reality.
Ian Bogost created the idea of “Procedural Rhetoric” and this idea talks about how “Video games do not simply distract or entertain with empty, meaningless content. Rather, video games can make claims about the world” (125, 2008). Video games have become so intertwined into our life, they are even most recently making Assassin’s Creed into a movie, but besides that, they truly represent real life situations.
Bogost also says, “Procedural rhetoric is a general name for the practice of authoring arguments through processes” (2008, 125). Kim Kardashian’s game is making the argument that you too can be a celebrity and live in the world she has everyday. Couldn’t this idea and how the game works then be guilty of blurring the line between fantasy and reality?
Kim Kardashian: Hollywood is played in real time. So when you use up all of your energy as you can see on the top, you have to wait five minutes to refill one energy. On the bottom, it shows the amount of time you spend at an event. Spending real time of 30 minutes just to refill energy and 8 hours at an event to receive the money and points are exactly what people do.
Playing in real time and making controversial claims all throughout the game is truly detrimental to players’ experiences. Some claims the game makes are: popularity is number one priority, look the best to be the best and compete with others at all times stay on top. Making these claims even in a fantasy world can resonate deeply with some people who use video games to escape reality. So much that then the game becomes their reality.
Kim Kardashian: Hollywood is definitely on the border of leaving fantasy in the video game to not effect people’s reality.
How does Kim Kompare?
I have not played many other games like this one, but doing some research, there are others out there.
Sims is a popular one that many know of and I have played this on my iPhone and as a PC game. Sims gives you the same option to create your own avatar, start a family, have a home and make a career out of yourself. That game is simply more realistic and less narcissistic.
Comparing the two, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood is much more advanced in its technical design, but the mechanics of Sims is far more impressive. So on the issues of fame and body image, Kim still wins in that category. Due to have such amazing detail, the stress is more on the character and how good they look and what they say. While the Sims on the other hand, focuses more on completing the task at hand. Clothes, friends, houses, etc. doesn’t matter because to grow in the game you take it at your own time.
Koncluding the Kontroversy of Kim K.
Kim Kardashian: Hollywood touches on many controversial issues that are second nature to real Kim Kardashian’s every day life. The topics of body image, popularity and reality verses imagination were all discussed in this paper to better understand why Kim Kardashian: Holly is not all fun and games.
This game, in some eyes, is an embarrassment to the gaming community. I wouldn’t go that far, but I believe that Kim Kardashian has definitely outdone herself with making a new virtual world for her fan base. This game is not in any way complex in the mechanics, but the effect it has on the behaviors and beliefs of people who play it are important to point out and find a way to fix it.
Kim Kardashian’s name will never be forgotten and neither will the love for fame, so this game has a very good change of continuing the Kardashian Kult.