Hacking ‘Kim Kardashian: Hollywood’ for Unlimited Money Made Me Lose My Moral Compass

by Amanda Glickman

“Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” was introduced to my iPhone earlier this summer after my already-addicted friend told me that I had to play it “to get a good laugh.” Let me be clear, we both love the Kardashians unironically; love their unabashed business tactics, their penchant for body-con dresses, their general candor and their adorable, growing flock of children. I could write a dissertation in defense of the entire K-empire if someone would permit me to.

So, I played the game fair, square and free of spending any real-life money, played it slow and steady for weeks until I got to the A list.

For those who don’t how it works, here’s a primer:

You start at the bottom, the E list, and through charming various industry professionals and seducing romantic prospects and buying lots of things, you work your way up; the only way you can effectively climb the ladder is by having a full store of these little cute lightning bolts of energy, which can be regained by purchasing with coins, which need to be purchased with real life money. So: no real-life money, no ability to buy energy. The free way to gain energy is to wait around for it to restock, every few hours, which is tedium at its finest. Though I was consistently low on cash (basic currency) and K-coins (rare, more-valuable currency), I reached my goal of good clean social ascension. The only motivations that kept me wanting to play after making the A list were the far-away dreams of a) adopting Charlie the cat off the streets of downtown L.A., and b) buying a goddamn jumpsuit because I will always fall for a jumpsuit. These things cost more K-coins than I had time to wait around for, being that I have a real-life full-time job (or, if we want to get technical, a summer internship…).

The fact that the cat and the jumpsuit were full-fledged, legitimate dreams of mine is crazy, I know, but it seemed pressing at the time. Very pressing. So pressing that I hacked the system (after carefully following the instructions in a Daily Dot piece, “The complete guide to hacking the Kim Kardashian app” and downloaded a brand new game pre-loaded with billions of dollars in cash (188,888 billion to be exact) and infinite K-coins. The numbers in my cash and K-coin deposits literally ran off the screen. Below is a chronological, real-time account of life as a bazillionaire powerbitch avatar named Manda (I figured I could drop the “A” and live a generally-cooler existence) and the tailspin it sent IRL-Amanda into:

I. Here I am on level six after less than an hour. I left my fair game on level 13. I feel dirty but excited. Upon first downloading, I felt like the universe was expanding and giving me a giant hug. I deserved this. Got the cat and the jumpsuit, what else can I get? Everything. Veruca Salt-ing out right now. Stopped double tapping because who needs the extra cash on the floor. Buying 50-coin bags of energy. Charmed some weirdos I bumped into at Panino. We will see if the destination is really sweeter than the journey.

Closing my eyes to really absorb the wonder of this lurex (I’m pretending it’s gold lurex) jumpsuit

II. Also I’ve noticed that because of my new, pricey clothing, none of my dates are putting down my outfits, instead telling me I look great. So sorry my old standby of no-cost white baby tee and jeans wasn’t cutting it in the pre-hack game. Also, I got furnishings for the Hollywood condo and bought a freaking Range Rover and I can drive places instead of taking the bus like a mere peasant. Also, Bernard the boxer is adorable and gives free energy, not that I need it anymore. And this time at Lif nightclub, I finally threw the drink in Willow’s face. Do-overs are satisfying. And I got the floral sleeve tattoo which I would have never done in the fair game and it actually looks sick and inspires me to get a real one. Also, isn’t it rich that with infinite energy you can conquer the world, except that energy can only be bought with time or money? So basically infinite money means world conquer, faster.

My pre-hack game uniform, and my pre-hack abysmal amounts of energy/cash/K-coins

III. A bit unclear about the consistency of key characters. Like Jordan Borschtalk, a realtor of So Chic boutique, who is obviously Jewish. Was he selling this place the previous game? I don’t think he was. I would have remembered him as a fellow Jew. There are no Jews in the Kardashian real-life world except Scott Disick, right? And after the talk with Jordan, I got denoted from the D to E list for threatening Willow and getting bad press, but I came back in no time with a 5-star photoshoot and a new look: choppy bob and leather pants.

IV. I find myself on a date with a nice B list promoter who tells me he likes himself better when he’s with me instead of the usual, “That’s what you’re wearing!!?? You couldn’t dress up more for me?” as a standard greeting. And I find myself blown away by the luxury of wining and dining this nice man and not worrying about money or energy or being ugly. Also, he’s blond and I’m not really a blond type, but it’s time to expand the horizons. I’ve taken off my sleeve tattoo (thank god I didn’t start a real one; I am too indecisive for such commitments). I would, however, wear a temporary sleeve tat if they made really beautiful ones with realistic botanical illustrations.

Hey, thanks for that genuine compliment, you sweet, be-scarved promoter man

V. Something weird happened the first night of the new game, I got to the C list, went to bed, woke up and opened the game and got to the B list after a few short appearances, and then after a barrage of twitter updates for a good five minutes, I got to the A list with no effort or jobs done whatsoever. It was a glitch I think, possibly because I had been going to so many gigs in a row that it crashed the system and then registered them all at once. So here I am. I own a plexiglass helicopter in addition to the array of fancy cars parked in my garages across the globe. Helicopter. No model/socialite owns a helicopter IRL — they just ride other people’s, right? Am I a model/socialite in this game? I can’t think of another more accurate title, though I’d rather be another profession like some of the other token characters, i.e., “biochemist” or “novelist”; then it wouldn’t be a real game though, so I get it, I get it. Also I actually love this casting couch jab with the Brandon Marlo (lol) dude who hits on Manda in his creepy hotel suite by the airport. Casting bed, ahem. I wonder if Kim has experienced this a lot.

VI. Now that I’m all A list and the number one player and have no real goals anymore (after two whole days of hard work), my favorite thing is dating around and seeing what big milestones my dates bring up, like being exclusive and getting keys to apartments, and so on. In the first, pre-hack game, I couldn’t afford to date multiple people in a row, but now I do and let me tell you, I so appreciate the recognition of sexual fluidity. I told Kim initially that I liked dudes when she wanted to set me up on a date (actually, thank you for even asking, Kim, that’s great of you!), but I’m now seeing a guy and a gal and they’re both into me. This is basically a pass to experiment with my sexuality in a guilt-free way, as I am a young person in a real-life monogamous and hetero relationship, but was never going to fully rule out anything before getting into said relationship. There are a few woulda-coulda-shouldas that cross my mind every now and then. The girl I date is all bronzy-skinned with bright red hair, quirky glasses and a cool downtown vibe, but on the D list, and I think she’s a promoter, a job of which I still don’t even really know the definition, even with half the characters running around like, “Hi, I’m a promoter!” She keeps telling me she’s going to write sonnets about how I look tonight. So she’s a promoter with a passion for the Bard, I love that. The guy I date is on the A list like me, with bleached spikes like Guy Fieri (the blondest breed there is) and a smart black blazer that I bought him because I quite enjoy being a sugar mama and it really makes him look nicer regardless of his poor hair choices. He’s a set designer, which harkens back to my real-life high school soft spot for tech boys in drama club.

VII. A bit more on sexuality, via hair; this game allows me to cycle through just about every hairstyle imaginable, and one of my favorites is the Mia Farrow-ish/Anne Hathaway-ish crop. I feel the need to pair this hair with softer, stereotypically-feminine outfits (e.g., slouchy pastel pink sweater, jeans and pointed heels, or lavender high-low maxi with the deep V, large earrings always), and I never stepped back to wonder why. Was I afraid of looking too masculine? I would definitely gravitate towards the femmy, bejeweled look if I ever chopped my hair off in real life, and I hate that my fear of fully breaking down gender norms is so ingrained that I can’t even avoid it in alternate realities. I can be a heteroflexible non-monogamist, but I can’t freaking cut my hair without succumbing to society’s rulebook?

VIII. Now, when I pass people in the real-life streets of midtown Manhattan with their array of ridiculous outfits, I think, “wow, they’re just like the randos on the streets in the game. He could be a paparazzo outside Chateau Nuit. She could be a fan wanting an autograph in London. He could be a waiter in Punta Mita.” People have turned into cartoons. Or the cartoons have turned into people? Art imitating life imitating art, all that high-dea crap — it starts to be a constant thought for me on my speed-walk to the train home. Reality is whatever you immerse yourself in.

IX. I feel like I’ve also been more upset about the impending post-college job search (T-minus 4 to 6 months) because this game lets me be a freaking star and all I need to succeed is two fingers for tapping and ambition. And that sounds like I’m in the porn industry, which I wouldn’t even cross off the list, because I know it would be very empowering if done with the right people. Again, the woulda-coulda-shouldas attack. But I am so young! I have a lifetime of potential pornographic endeavors to involve myself in, on the side of my burgeoning magazine journalism career, of course.

X. A bracelet that my real-life boyfriend bought me for my birthday broke today at real-life work and I emailed customer service of the store it’s from and they gave me a credit in the amount of the bracelet, a number of which I was not aware of until now: X amount of dollars. Nothing on the store website costs X amount of dollars except teeny midi rings and a ceramic sheep pendant. If I buy anything I actually want, I have to put out the rest of the money and I am very strapped for cash and can’t gift myself anything. This makes me a selfish awful person — to resent the boyfriend and the store’s website when they both did nothing wrong, and yet, that’s exactly what I’m doing. There have been many expensive, beautiful gifts that I’ve put together for him, for every single holiday, birthday and most recently, his graduation. All gifts that I never once questioned spending amounts of money all greater than X dollars on, because as long as I could swing it, I would. I would pick up extra shifts at my campus job at the library, do lots of psych studies, avoid frequenting the Whole Foods salad bar for a month at a time. He deserved, deserves it all. I am an asshole, but I think I might have a point?

XI. What I want to know is this: Is the game just bringing up a point I’ve known already and chosen to ignore, or is it making me turn into a covetous brat? My materialistic urges are stronger than ever, but that is pretty typical for back to school time when I prep for a half-year of Chicago hibernation by acquiring lots of sweaters and new, non-salted ankle booties. I have been bemoaning my poorly-stipended internship and faltering bank account, but I have not asked my parents for a dime. They are housing me and feeding me this summer, after all. So, yeah, I can’t afford the things I covet and deserve and dog-ear in all the September fashion mags I buy for lunchtime entertainment (they’re educational, it’s my industry!). Most grown adults can’t afford this stuff either, though. The “deserve” reasoning is flawed and awful, we all deserve everything we want, but we can’t have it all because that would be ridiculously wasteful and take all the fun out of coveting for selves and giving to others. After having and giving it all, we’d have to wait around for new things and remain flatly sated in the interim, like those flounder fish that burrow under the sand until fresh and tasty plankton float by. Boring rich fish people.

XII. But Manda can have everything she wants! The baseball bomber coatdress and pearl studs and turquoise loafers and sleeve tat and the sexy dates and crazy restaurant bills and a singing career with a splash of TV and movie-acting and business-owning. It still is mildly fun to play “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” in little spurts, though now, the only true moments of excitement come when some new clothing items become available upon leveling up. That, and the prospect of further-expanding your fanbase, which I believe has no number limit. These are the only goals left once you’ve hit the tippy-top. OoOOOH, another 75,000 people who know my name, OoOOOH, another variation of a body-con sleeved black dress! But it is, of course, a more beautiful body-con sleeved black dress. I wonder if H&M makes a knockoff of this dress, because it would be a great day-to-night transitional piece.

THE body-con sleeved black dress of level 15, my absolute favorite

XIII. I have not touched the game in a few days. Three days. Mind is quieter. Real-life bank account also coincidentally a bit fuller due to my latest paycheck that has not been spent on fall clothing. Magazines still dogeared to bits, though tucked away in the peaceful darkness of my bag. Floating lightning bolts, silver coins and wads of cash still flicker inside my eyelids when I concentrate hard enough.

Amanda Glickman is finishing up her undergrad in writing and gender studies at Northwestern University. Check her out at amandaglickman.tumblr.com

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