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A Response to Bustle’s 31 Questions About Kim Kardashian Hollywood
by Kevin Fanning on 07/31/14 08:24:00 am   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


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.

motivation7. 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.

k-stars16. 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.

LARPing26. 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.

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Michael Joseph
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You're "defending" a game from (mostly) rhetorical questions posted on a celebrity infotainment, pop culture & #social site like Bustle?

One could confuse your (seemingly) dutifully attentive response (a cynical post that reads like something produced by a PR agent or political campaign manager) with a Bustle site promo because by taking their article (that nobody really cares about) so seriously you elevate it's status.

Vasily Yourchenko
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Many of the comments written by "professionals" on this very site would fit right in on Bustle.

Christian Nutt
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The reason I invited the poster to put this blog on Gamasutra is that Bustle's questions sound remarkably like the comments we've had on any story or blog that mentions this game, and because he's someone who clearly has experience with the game (and the game industry) and his responses were thoughtful. I think they only sound like PR if you're hopelessly cynical about the game.

I find it funny how people can't even countenance the idea of taking a step back and thinking about this game for a second.

James Margaris
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Why think about it?

Is there anything worth thinking about? It's a reskin of a couple existing games only this one is more successful because it has a sex-tape star in it.

Why am I supposed to care about that?

Just because something is popular doesn't always mean there's some inherent value or deeper meaning in it. This is like when Flappy Bird blew up and everyone pretended to find some sort of pearls of wisdom in it - creating lists of things we can learn from Flappy Bird ("make ur game only use one button!!!") or writing Bogost-style essays about how Flappy Bird captures the post 9/11 human condition. People on Twitter want to appear relevant so they D/L the game semi-ironically and Tweet about it, exactly until it isn't popular anymore, at which point they never mention it again.

What's worth thinking about here? It's popular. Ok. I know that. Anything else?

I don't care that the game exists, it doesn't make me angry or resentful. I just don't care. I've put no thought into it (until writing this comment) and I haven't seen any reason why I should.

Now you're running a blog by someone who didn't work on the game describing how Kim Kardashian acts in meetings - meetings this person did not attend. It's fan fiction. She's good at active listening! Oh really?

10 years ago I had a bunch of bookmarks to Gama pieces about things like terrain generation, nav meshes, etc. Now Gama is about a Kim Kardashian enthusiast writing fan fiction about what it would be like to be in a meeting with Kim Kardashian. Oy.

Christian Nutt
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Because considering what drives people to genuinely enjoy an incredibly successful game might be relevant to game designers, particularly those who want to put dinner on their tables. That strikes me as self-evident, but I guess it's not.

Gamasutra has a lot of bread-and-butter game development content; certainly we're not pushing it off the site or in any way discouraging it from being posted. We're actively soliciting it and working to get it on here, in fact. So I would hope that if anything, there's been an expansion of what's available at Gamasutra rather than a replacement.

Theresa Catalano
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I think what drives people to enjoy this game is exactly the same thing as what drives people to like any bad licensed game: they want to like it because of the license despite the quality. That's always been obviously true, but I don't find that particularly relevant.

Ian Richard
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But, is it a bad game?

I've spoken to many players who hate the Kardashian brand, but will still take the time to learn why it's popular. Many of them end up enjoying their experience, despite the limited interaction.

The conversations in the game can be funny, their in-game "twitter" is pretty clever for the theme, and in general... the social interactions can be enjoyable.

In fact, I've had some amusing conversations about the various ways you interact with your "Rival". Do you stir up trouble or take the high road? The fact that I've talked to people about my unique experience is more than I can say about most AAA games.

Do I recommend this to everyone? Heck no, It's a niche title for a specific type of player. But being created for a niche doesn't make it a bad game.

This game satisfied it's target audience and, to me, that's a sign of a good game.

Christian Nutt
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And I don't believe the condescending and dismissive "they just like it because they like the license" is actually useful to people who want to make games. Like, this is not 8 year olds playing the Total Recall game for NES because they got it for their birthday and it's the only game they have -- this is adults with plenty of other options spending lots of time (and in some cases money!) with a game they perceive value in. That's interesting to me.

Luis Blondet
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Please stop fighting this game and mindless entertainment products like it, for the Idiocracy is coming and it cannot be stopped.

Mark Velthuis
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We won't go down without a fight ! o/

Ian Richard
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To be fair, the hordes of angry rants from people who have neither played the game nor belong to the target audience will lead to the same place.

The game has plenty of issues that are worth complaining about... but "Isn’t, you know, actually accomplishing something more fun than this?" is not one of them. It's a smart-alec comment that kills credibility.

If we want to avoid idiocracy we need to learn about something before we judge, realize that different people enjoy different things, and stop trying to force our opinions on others.

But, I do think you're right. It is a hopeless cause.

Kujel Selsuru
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This is why the earth needs another ice age, to clear out the less desireables, ie the stupid.

Leonardo Ferreira
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Every cultural product, no matter the origin, has cultural validity. This kind of cheap elitism is actually what caused games to not be reconized as an art and a cultural force throught the years.

Theresa Catalano
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Cultural validity does not necessarily mean good art. Making judgments about what is good art and bad art is not necessarily elitism.

Curtiss Murphy
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+1. Since there's no like button.

TC Weidner
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this is far from the first and only piece of merchandising crap that still sells like hotcakes.

Katy Smith
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It's been very interesting reading the comments on the Kardashian game articles. I find it sad that on one hand, we decry games like this for reinforcing materialism and selfishness, yet defend violence in video games as "just a game."

Jennis Kartens
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There are several ways to approach your post regarding violence vs. artificially no-value fame.

However on this particular site which I still read a lot, I barely see the reactions to violence to be that shallow. There are often a lot of discussions going on, though the topic as such is not as present in either case.

Yama Habib
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The question is, are we taking violence too lightly or are we too critical of concepts like sexuality and materialism in videogames?

My answer would almost certainly lean towards the latter.

Katy Smith
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This would be a very interesting debate :)

Christian Nutt
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What's funny is that we don't tend to criticize materialism in the form of Animal Crossing but when it's a Kim K game it's suddenly to be fiercely resisted. Guessing it's because AC comes from inside (Nintendo) and Kim K is an outsider. Not to mention that mobile/F2P/causal is also "outside" for a lot of people in the industry -- a threat.

Elisabeth Beinke-Schwartz
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@Yama Habib
The answer to this probably also depends on where you live. The US in general is much more nonchalant about violence in their media than in other countries.

Leonardo Ferreira
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Honestly, the onipresence of this debate on the cultural validity of this game is much ado about nothing. For all intents and purposes, Kim Kardashian is a character, one that represents a series of values for a series of people, in her case, the contemporary E!-inspired cult of celebrity-as-extension-of-self.

lt's different than Spiderman or the Angry Birds or King Arthur or any religious or historical figure; most of nthe negative commentaries stem mostly from intelectual elitism than anything.Let's face it, the game could be an autorunner and it would still sell like hotcakes.

(that said, the dour, humourless, ultra-defensive tone of this article is godawful, especlially considering the inherent banality of the original article)

Christian Nutt
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Like the first two paragraphs of this a lot; didn't get the same tone you got from the piece, however. Just seems like a straightforward attempt to answer some silly questions, which strikes me as a fair exercise.

Ben Sly
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At least from what I've read, it does seem like it is a well designed game as opposed to the quick-and-dirty crap that usually comes with licenses. That's not to say that its goals are good, just that the game design is effective at compelling behavior towards them.

It's worth an autopsy, through probably not much more.

Well, it's worth that and evidently the millions of dollars it's raking in.

Chris Moeller
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The game looks exactly the same as several other of their games + hundreds of other games like it. Star girl/ stardom/ it girl have been around for quite awhile, and they are essentially just "dress up games" with in app purchases.

There's nothing wrong with them- they're essentially virtual barbie dolls. The niche shouldn't appeal to COD players.

It is crazy how just putting a famous person's name to an existing game (new content of course) could boost the popularity of the game. But it shouldn't be surprising at all- guess why celebrity endorsements exist.

There shouldn't be any conflict over "this game existed- added a celebrity to it, and now it's doing a lot better" - it's actually smart because existing entertainment areas already do it (movies, TV's, advertisements).

It does seem like a good idea to find someone/ a celebrity that is well known, in an area that you can apply to your niche, and check to see if they are willing to allow you to use their name+ likeness for your game.