Let me start this off by saying I am not the target demographic for this game.
I am a 26-year-old, heterosexual male from New Jersey who prides himself on his knowledge of Rangers trivia and that one time I ate an entire pie of mushroom pizza in one sitting.
All of my clothes are from JC Penny or this place called Forman Mills, my right sneaker has a hole in it, I had a pickle for dinner last night and I spent 10 minutes this morning searching YouTube for a very specific guy-gets-kicked-in-face video I saw a few years ago.
I am not glamorous, to say the least. More to the point, I am barely on the same planet as Kendall and Kylie Jenner.
They live lives I'm not just unfamiliar with, but lives I flat out don't understand. I get up every morning, roll out of bed, grab the least smelly clothes on my futon, brush my teeth and go to work, while I'm pretty sure Kylie has a five-person team work just on her lips before she goes to breakfast.
If there was ever a chance our two worlds could merge, it happened earlier today when the duo released “Kendall & Kylie,” a mobile, choose-your-own-adventure game set in the Jenner-verse (kind of like the Marvel-verse or "Star Wars" universe but set in Calabasas and with fewer lasers).
Of course, I jumped at the opportunity to play the game. I am a gamer, after all, and this seemed like the best way to try to understand their world. Sure, I focus mostly on sports games, but I do dabble in RPG stuff, so how hard could this crossover really be?
As it turns out, hard. Like, super hard.
It honestly turned me into a nervous wreck for a little over an hour.
Let's start from the beginning.
After you create an avatar, you're whisked away to Santa Monica where you're immediately forced to deal with a high-stakes real estate decision. A landlord forces you to buy an apartment she classifies as subpar, and then says something to the effect of,
YOU HAVE NO CHOICE IN THIS MATTER ANYWAY! HAHA!
It's during this exchange where you really meet yourself, and to be honest, the computer me was way too close to the real-life me. The first two things I quickly learned about my character was that he is terrible at making eye contact and acts nervous in social situations, especially when that situation involves talking to a cute girl.
This was horse crap! If I wanted to do both of those things I would literally just LIVE MY CURRENT LIFE. I didn't play this RPG to live a second version of my dang self.
AND THEN IT GOT WORSE.
The landlord told me she set me up with a job, but I had to put away some boxes first. So I did, and then as we were leaving, she was like,
Uhhhh, you sweaty as hell. Go change your shirt.
At this point, it became apparent video-game Eitan Levine is the same as real-life Eitan Levine: nervous around girls, terrible with eye contact and noticeably sweaty.
I needed to recover. If you don't have thick skin in this game you might as well move back to whatever the digital version of the Midwest is. So, I dusted my emotions off and headed to work at The Van Norman Salon. There, I chose my name and was promptly told I would be making minimum wage at this oddly ambiguous job I scored (I'm def not a hairdresser in the salon, but I'm also not not a hairdresser. It was weird.).
I made another major mistake at this impasse, by the way. I decided to name myself “Eitan Levine” to get that authentic experience. The thing is you're only supposed to use your first name, meaning the rest of the time I played everyone kept calling me by my full name, Eitan Levine.
This was a nightmare scenario that made me nervous as hell, especially when I was forced to meet Perry, the cool down-to-earth guy who also worked at the store (I think), and Emily Sun, the lady I guarantee I would have married had I not stopped playing the game a few minutes later. These cool people are forced to call me by my full name, which is the biggest dick move I could have made (aside from naming myself Dr. Fart or something).
Another character I'm introduced to is Logan Prescott, who used to date Perry. (This is a weird place to take a stand for LGBTQ+ inclusion, but atta' girls, Kendall and Kylie! #LegalizeGay.)
IMMEDIATELY, I knew me and this guy wouldn't be getting along any time soon.
I asked a simple question about whether or not Kendall and Kylie would be going to a hot concert we were all attending later, and Logan got all uppity, called me a “burned-out hispter” and then played the “DO YOU KNOW WHO MY MOM IS?!?!” card. His mom, by the way, is Gretta Van Norman. She owns the salon and looks GREAT for her age.
Things did get a little better though after Perry gave me a pep talk at the concert.
He forced me to go mingle with the crowd, and then, I saw her -- Sarah Henderson. A brunette singer with attitude for days and legs that could turn a lion into a domestic house cat. It was love at first click. I casually strutted on up to her and started a conversation. As it turned out, one major difference between game me and real me is game me is smooth as hell (real me just realized he had mustard on his shirt but doesn't know where it's from).
I GOT A DATE WITH SARAH. We have a lot in common, mostly location, but hey, I was new in town. (Our date went well, by the way. It happened a little later in the game, but for now it's just important to know it went well. Sarah and I clicked. She was the yin to my yang. The Balmain to my H&M.)
Then, Kendall and Kylie showed up at the concert. It was a big deal. Feeding off my high from nabbing a date with Sarah, I played it cool. I approached; I got a selfie. I networked and then ended up getting invited to some other event with them. Game Eitan Levine was killing it.
This is sort of where it all went downhill.
So, I went to that party with Kendall and Kylie. We talked, they followed me around, we laughed, we collected game points (in the form of “followers,” though it's never specified what they're actually following me on. Twitter? LinkedIn? Who knows). They were super nice. Everyone was nice. Everyone was beautiful and nice. Everyone was actually too beautiful to be that nice.
Why were they being this nice? What did I do to have them be this nice to me? I'm an underemployed salon employee who sweats and can't make eye contact. Oh my God, I thought, they're gonna “Carrie” me. They're setting me up for some grand scheme involving them dumping pig blood on me at some fundraiser in front of everyone important in SoCal.
Well! I WOULD SHOW THEM!
YOU THOUGHT YOU COULD PUNK ME, SARAH HENDERSON? I DO THE PUNKING!
I looked up, found the first piece of tail in my area and struck up a conversation. Her name was Danielle Castellano, and she was a cute doctor with dyed-green hair. I flirted with her HARD and got that girl to go out on a date with me.
Then, out of pure spite, I convinced Kendall and Kylie I own the salon where I work. Why? Because If they could lie to me, then I could lie to them!
F*CK THEM! F*CK LOGAN! F*CK GRETTA! F*CK MY LANDLORD! F*CK PERRY, WHO WAS IN ON THIS WHOLE THING, OBVIOUSLY! AND F*CK EMILY SUN, MY FUTURE WIFE! F*CK ALL OF YOU! YOU MONSTERS MESSED WITH THE WRONG GUY!
... EITAN LEVINE! COOL DOWN! WHO IS THIS MONSTER?
I put my phone down. I didn't like what I became. This game turned me into an anxious, overbearing emotional mess. The game gave me the opportunity to not trust people and cheat on a potential girlfriend, and I took it as soon as I could.
Was it so hard to believe there were still good people in the world? That there were people who just wanted to help? That Perry just tried to get me out of my shell and Emily Sun only wanted to acclimate me to life in Santa Monica?
Was it crazy to think Sarah Henderson wanted me for me? That an emotional connection in the Jenner-verse wasn't a crazy abstract construct but rather the building block to the entire digital human experience?
I deleted the app. I wasn't built for it, and it wasn't built for me. I would like to say I learned some grand lesson from the experience, but I didn't. Kylie and Kendall flashed a mobile Rorschach test at me, and where I should have seen fun experiences with friends but I just saw a horrible version of myself. It magnified my vulnerabilities and played off of my biggest social fears.
I'm sorry, Sarah Henderson. You deserved better.
I'm going to stick to Madden.