Normally I keep a very strict no-hatelinking policy on the internet. Life is too short, there is too much suffering, and a desire to foment hate and anger is exactly the reason people post terrible things on the internet in the first place.
But recently there has been a lot of hate and outcry about Kim Kardashian Hollywood, a game I personally enjoy immensely, and I found Bustle’s list of 31 questions for Kim Kardashian to be particularly dismissive and problematic. I'm not trying to call out the person who wrote this, she’s just trying to swim for shore in a content tsunami that rages terribly all around her. But having spent a lot of time playing this game, AND having worked in video games for a number of years, I know a little bit about how these projects work. I am very comfortable defending this game.
1. Right off the bat we’re curious: did Kim even know what a video game was before this?
Yes. Kim knew what a video game was. Video games have existed for decades, and Kim strikes me as quite tech-savvy, so it seems incredibly likely that Kim encountered them at some point in her life.
2. Did she come up with the objectives herself or were they just cobbled together based on her life?
Most likely no, and partially. The studio pitched Kim the idea for the game, and she made a business agreement to license her image to them. They probably presented ideas for objectives and goals within the game for her to approve, and she probably had some suggestions for tweaks and additions. They valued and worked to honor her opinion, because the game wouldn’t be as successful without her support.
3. What is it like, being in a development meeting for something like this with Kim Kardashian?
You are very nervous. You want her to be happy. You have worked hard on this game and it’s important to you. You know there are inevitably going to be details that you get slightly wrong, you just hope you haven’t screwed them up in a way that will make it expensive for the development team to fix. But since Kim is a professional, it’s a very positive interaction at the meetings. She makes you feel good about what you’ve accomplished, and delivers criticism in a way that makes you feel like the product will be all the better for it. You try to find ways to deliver a game that will meet her expectations, within the constraints of time, money, and staff.
4. Does she just sit around and nod?
No. She speaks, and laughs, and smiles, and is gracious when someone brings her water or coffee. She is appreciative of your time, because you are not wasting her time.
5. Do her eyes just glaze over until the words “shopping,” “money,” and “hot” pop up?
No. Successful women are very good at active listening and interpersonal communication.
6. Why is it that these avatars look to be in permanent selfie-pose mode?
The avatars are often looking at their nails or have their eyes closed, so I’m not sure how you define selfie-pose. But the idea would be that the characters are fun to look at and take screenshots of, to share with your friends on social media.
7. Is that what it takes to become famous?
Like, picking lightning bolts up off the floor? I mean, probably not?
8. Seriously why are these avatars always winking and fluffing their hair?
The animators will create maybe 5-10 animations, for both male and female avatars, to give the screen some life and motion while you are tapping around on the level. The game would look much weirder and “feel” less fun, if the characters weren’t constantly moving in the background.
9. They have to fold clothes before they become famous: is that representative of Kim’s true struggle to make it to the top? (Sounds like a deep metaphor.)
A lot of people work in retail when they’re just starting out. There’s no shame in it. But it’s not a metaphor.
10. …Is this “game” supposed to be “fun”?
Yes. As a game, it is supposed to be entertaining for people who enjoy this type of game. Not for everyone, but hopefully for a significant number of people. If the game was not fun it would not be successful. It is a business endeavor, not an art project.
11. Or are we supposed to feel like clawing our eyes out by the end of it?
Gosh I hope not.
12. What does Kim Kardashian consider fun?
Who knows! Judging from her Instagram I would guess that she enjoys laying out, swimming, spending time with her family and friends, going to events or parties, that kind of thing.
13. Does Kanye West think this is the greatest video game of all time or THE GREATEST VIDEO GAME OF ALL TIME?
Who can say, but Kanye probably thinks there are things that are successful about it and things that can be improved. And he’s right.
14. I see there are blue lightning bolts: what the heck do those do?
They give you energy to perform tasks. The tasks help you level up your character.
15. And are those other things called KardashiKoins? (Because they should be.)
I’ve been calling them K-Stars but I don’t know what the official name is. Your suggestion is not bad though.
16. What do those do?
They’re one of the in-game currencies. K-Stars give you access to outfits for your character, decorations for your house, and they can also help you through difficulties in interpersonal relationships.
17. Is that like a BitCoin?
It is in no way like a Bitcoin.
18. Are they equally as or more useless than a BitCoin?
This is a legitimately good question. I don’t know enough about Bitcoin to answer it.
19. Does Kim Kardashian understand the negative effects of the lifestyle of superficiality and excess she’s promoting?
Kim Kardashian is promoting Kim Kardashian. The end.
20. Does she really think this is the best use of her time and image?
She used her time and image and attention to help create a game that million of people have played, and that millions of people love, and which in turn is generating millions of dollars in revenue. Some people write mean-spirited content on the internet for pennies, in order to make their rich male bosses even richer. We make decisions in life.
21. Oh wait she probably doesn’t care because money, does she?
Who on this planet doesn’t care about money.
22. If someone’s making money and free will is involved clearly there are no negative consequences, right?!
I do not understand this question.
23. But still, she’s essentially telling people to cultivate a self-obsessed attitude. Does she get that?
I’ve been playing the game for a month and I don’t feel like I was ever given the message that I should cultivate a self-obsessed attitude. Very honestly, the message of the game to me is: Handle your business. But when interacting with art and games we bring our own personal set of experiences to the table, which informs what we see in them.
24. Is perpetuating an image of women as material-object and fame-hungry obsessives really something she’s OK with?
You can play as a man in the game and all the activities and objectives are exactly the same.
25. Why is any of that fun?
There’s probably some scientific answer to this having to do with endorphins and neuro-chemicals, but explanations of the experience of fun and what it means evolutionarily are way beyond my pay grade.
26. How is any of that fun?
Oh this one’s easy. It’s fun because it’s silly. It’s ridiculous and the game is aware of its own ridiculousness. It’s there in every interaction, every objective. Also it’s fun to pick out clothes for your character. Also it’s very fun to see what your friends are doing in the game. I’ve probably added 30 new friends on GameCenter since starting the game, and its made a lot of my friendships outside the game more fun and interactive around this shared experience. The existence of this game has led to my having more and deeper relationships with many people I previously only vaguely knew online. My life is richer because of this game. This isn’t to say it would be fun for everyone (it wouldn’t!) but to miss out on that opportunity because of lofty ideals about free will and superficiality? Come on.
27. Isn’t, you know, actually accomplishing something more fun than this?
This is a false dichotomy. Playing a game doesn’t prevent you from accomplishing other things. This morning I did a 3-hour photoshoot and then I wrote this interview.
28. Does she understand the ramifications of her actions at all, ever?
I would suggest this game is proof that she does.
29. Wouldn’t she like to be better? Wouldn’t you, Kim?
I think everyone on some level is striving to be better. Emotionally, spiritually, as a writer and pop culture critic, whatever!
30. Wouldn’t you be happier if you actually stood for something worth believing in?
There’s no objective universal morality, and no one is strictly good or evil. People in Israel probably wish the people in Gaza stood for something worth believing in. Different people believe in different things. It is not for any one person to define what everyone else should believe in.
31. No? You’d rather get money and be married to Kanye West because fame is far more important than substance or using your influence for good?
Ha ha what? What are you even mad about here. If fame is less important than substance why did you publish this article? All I can tell you is that it’s very easy to hate everything, but life becomes much more enjoyable when you approach it with an open heart and mind. You don’t have to like everything and everyone, but let people love the small things they love. They mean you no harm.