|Clash of Clans surprisingly teaches patience and financial literacy|
Finding the positives of living in a household obsessed with the Medieval-set game Clash of Clans.
At first, I thought it was just another passing fling, like Doodle Jump, Plants vs. Zombies, Jet Pack Joy Ride and all the other one-hit wonders.
Soon clans were joined, attacks launched and serious discussions of battle strategy were taking place every single day.
“No Mustafa, you need to upgrade your troops before your town hall,” my husband, Chief Clan Strategist, counsels. “Ibrahim, save up your dark elixir for the barbarian king, don’t waste it on minions.”
It all came to a head one night when an unnatural cellphone glow kept interrupting my circadian rhythm. “What the heck are you doing?” I growl.
“Just give me a minute. I need to collect my gold,” says the Chief Strategist.
That did it. “I’m going to erase that stupid game from your stupid cellphone!” I hiss. “Just as soon as I figure out how to erase things from phones!”
My husband just laughs and continues playing, leaving me with an uncomfortable truth: the wildly popular app Clash of Clans has taken my family hostage.
Also, this is what happens when you live in a house of gamers.
I’m not a video game person, but I’m surrounded by enthusiasts. My brother and husband bonded over the first gen Xbox, circa 2002. My kids, and even my dad, play Wii U on weekends.
It’s true I always casually mention famous titles like Halo, Assassin’s Creed, Gears of War or Bioshock in my classroom.
“You know what those are?” my students ask in shock. Street cred established.
But I’m a fraud. I don’t even like video games. I don’t really get them.
Maybe I’m jealous. I wish my students would listen to my explanation of Macbeth with the same level of slack jawed reverence afforded Fruit Ninja.
So I ask my sons: why do they like Clash of Clans? Is it the admittedly awesome Liam Neeson commercial?
They are cautious in their answer — they don’t know what I’m up to. As they talk, their enthusiasm grows.
My older son Mustafa likes that it’s set in medieval times. He says, “It’s a little good for your brain, because it’s a strategy game.”
My younger son points out that it teaches patience. “When you want to upgrade, you have to stick to it. If you just leave it for a week, your gold really grows, and it’s a nice surprise.”
“It’s the everyday check sort of game,” Mustafa chimes in. “I’ve been playing for two years.” On top of persistence, he has also learned resilience — last year his base was erased (not by me, I swear).
After a brief minute of mourning, he picked up the pieces and started to rebuild.
Ibrahim adds: “It makes me feel older. I have all this cool stuff. Plus whenever you spend gold, you can upgrade to something better. For instance, hidden tesla to level 4 costs two million gold coins.
That takes a really long time to save up — like a month. Also, don’t spend your money on things that aren’t worth it, like upgrading a cannon if you’re only town hall level 6.”
I have no idea what any of that means, but I appreciate he’s learning the value of (fake) money. Also, if I had two million gold coins, I’d buy an island, not a cannon.
My husband, who started playing to keep an eye on the kids (that’s his story and he’s sticking to it) explains the appeal: “It has the elements of a classic game, but it’s also very simple. It doesn’t take up too much time. You look forward to the little rewards, like the next upgrade.”
Patience, resilience, and financial literacy — for a video game, I guess Clash of Clans is not so bad. Maybe it’s the Stockholm Syndrome talking, but I’m starting to warm up to the idea of rounding up an Archer Queen, some dark elixir and building an empire.
Uzma Jalaluddin is a high school teacher in the York Region. She writes about parenting and other life adventures.