Mobile app craze sweeps through students, faculty

By Lisa Liu

All that boys’ basketball coach and geography teacher Kenneth Boren will say about how much he’s spent on Clash of Clans is that it’s “a lot.”

The app, a freemium strategy game on iOS and Android, is only one of dozens of apps that have gained popularity both in the app stores and in the halls of CSHS. Students and faculty alike are hooked on these viral games for their often addictive qualities.

“Clash is an extremely strategic and fun game that takes time to get good at,” senior Ali Charara said. “The more time you put into it, the bigger your base gets and the better your village gets, which makes it more fun and addicting.”

Clash of Clans, which involves villages, raids and warriors, is known as a MMO, or a massively multiplayer online game. The apps that have caught on among students here vary widely in genre, though. Senior Bailey Payne, for example, went through a short-lived obsession with Trivia Crack. For two weeks, he held a place as the number one player in Texas for the entertainment category.

“I was like, ‘There must be some real losers out there with no lives at the tops of these leaderboards. Let me see just how close I can get to them,’” Payne said. “And then I was there, and I was like, ‘Oh, I’m the loser without a life.’”

Though he jokes about his brief fixation with the app, getting on the leaderboards is still impressive. Over 100 million people have downloaded Trivia Crack, and entertainment is only one of six categories available. Payne reached the number one spot in two days, spending about five hours per day, but quickly got bored after that.

“The questions will repeat themselves a lot,” Payne said, “They won’t repeat themselves if you play at a healthy, moderate level, which of course I was not doing.”

The temptation to play apps continuously is a common problem for those trying to balance these games with the rest of their lives. Charara spends two or three hours a day on Clash of Clans and has tried to quit playing before, but only re-downloaded the app again.

Sophomore Maddie Byrd employs the same tactics with the apps she plays, which include Flappy Bird and Jelly Jump.

“They’re just addictive,” Byrd said. “Sometimes they get so bad that I just have to delete them from my phone. Right now, I don’t have any game apps.”

On the other hand, Boren has not had much trouble with budgeting his time. What he does face is the temptation of in-app purchases.

“[Clash of Clans] is free unless you don’t want to wait, and I’m an impatient person,” Boren said. “It costs $9.99 when you upgrade stuff, so it can add up if you’re not careful.”

From an app developer’s point of view, the freemium system—in which an app can be downloaded for free, but extra options and advantages can be purchased—is an effective way to make revenue. Junior Aggela Polymenis and sophomores Bryson Greenwood, Tyler Hogan and Pablo Villalobos are using this method for the puzzle app that they made for Skills USA, Non-stop Robot.

“A lot of successful games have in-app purchases to provide initiatives to customize stuff, because that’s what really helps a game experience,” Polymenis said. “In the competition, that was something we thought would give us an edge. [We made ours] like a real app, like a real game you would see on the app store.”

The rise of apps in gaming in recent years is a trend that Boren has taken note of. Although he himself is not much of a gamer outside of Clash of Clans, he can appreciate the turn that gaming has taken.

“I think that’s the shift in technology, moving from gaming on a console to gaming on apps on a phone. It makes it a lot more accessible worldwide,” Boren said. “You know, you can’t take an Xbox with you everywhere you go, but you can take an app anywhere.”