When you get so good at a game you love… that you hate it - Macenstein

When you get so good at a game you love… that you hate it

As anyone who’s ever spent an extended period of time with me will attest, “familiarity breeds contempt”. And while I am used to this saying applying to human interactions, I never thought it would sum up my relationship with some of my favorite iPhone apps. Yet here I am with a score of 528 in Flight Control, and I practical dread playing it now.

So, what’s turned me sour on what was at one point my favorite game? Well, quite frankly I’m just too good.

Yes, I know I am not even close to being the top Flight Control player (I have seen scores of 20,000-plus) but a 528 score is apparently still good enough for me to be placed in the top 4% of Flight Control players worldwide. And while Flight Control still holds a coveted spot on my first page of iPhone apps, my finger rarely seeks its soothing, blue embrace. Why? Well, what started as a wonderful casual game has now turned into a serious time commitment. I have calculated that it takes me a little over 5 minutes to land 100 planes, meaning that in order to break my record, I’m looking at laying out about 30 minutes or so of my not-so-valuable time. Faced with the near certainty that my attempt will end in frustrating failure in the 400’s, I more often than not will pass on Flight Control for a more casual, compartmentalized game like Peggle or Puzzlings.

I had a similar issue with the pie-wedge-placing game Frenzic, where in order to beat my 2300 score (again, nowhere near the top score) I would have to devote quite a bit of time, and invariably not reach my goal. Frenzic is similar to Flight Control in that both are fast-finger games, and although both have pause buttons, resuming a game a day later usually ends in disaster as you invariably forget your place.

Addicting, but not fun

To me, Flight Control and Frenzic both suffer from the same underlying problem – their gameplay is not inherently fun in and of itself. The only real reason to play Flight Control is to see if you can break your previous high score (or a friend’s high score). There is no rich story, cute animations, hidden cheats to uncover or characters and levels to unlock. The only reason you play is to try to get a higher score than last time. Faced with the very real prospect of spending half an hour or more only to fail at that goal, I usually find myself passing.

I can’t quit you, baby

Of course, like most abusive love/hate relationships, this one is hard to quit. In fact, I have played Flight Control twice since starting to write this article. But the thing is, I didn’t really want to play, and that’s sad. I’ll admit the dream of beating my high score DOES keep me coming back for more, just as the dream of winning the lottery has me buying two Mega Millions tickets each week. But most days now I feel I have a better chance of my numbers coming up than beating my Flight Control score. Every loss is an ego-crushing disaster, and I am left feeling my worthless time could have been better wasted on a different game.

It’s like the great Joan Jett once sang… Flight Control, “I hate myself for loving you”.

15 Responses to “When you get so good at a game you love… that you hate it”
  1. brnmbrns says:

    Get a grip! CONTROL YOURSELF!

  2. NEVER!
    – The Doc

  3. Allyn says:

    I have the same problem with Baseball Slugger!

  4. dave says:

    Yeah, I have the same experience with Jetman Jack. It’s cute and retro, but the better you get, the longer the game takes. And pausing is useless, because after a couple of minutes, the scrolling is happening so fast it makes it extremely difficult to unpause and begin controlling Jack precisely enough to navigate the obstacles.

  5. edoreld says:


    Same here, I’m ranked 74 and it’s nigh impossible reaching #1 ! But I keep coming back for more 😀

  6. Steven says:

    I have this desire to see level 500 of Fieldrunners, I can’t quite get there. I can get to the 450+ zone but just can’t reach 500. This is, of course, on the easy setting. Maybe we should start an addicting iPhone app support group.

  7. Paul says:

    I’ve not played Flight Control, but I’m digging Car Mania…. especially with Open Feint support!

  8. Matt says:

    Put the iPhone down Doc and get out into the sun shine……

  9. Vidiot says:

    So I guess my score of 49 ain’t exactly the shizz I thought it was, eh?

    But as for you… I think it’s time for “Clear All Scores”. Go play “Toobz” or “Paper Toss” for a while.

  10. Jack Aubrey says:

    Right now, I’m addicted to Word Solitaire. But, unlike your description of Flight Control, Word Solitaire is both addictive and fun. It can be a fast finger game to beat the clock, or slow and steady to minimize the number of moves.

  11. Gary says:

    I have the same problem with Pong

  12. Graeme says:

    I feel your pain, doc. I’ve found Harbour Master to be an effective remedy… It’s not that different, but it gives you five new high scores to continously beat. I’ve not touched Flight Control since I bought it!

  13. S says:

    I take satisfaction from beating my average in a given game and figuring out how many aircraft I need to beat my average by to raise it. The game’s so addictive that I’ve removed it from my phone twice to force a break (that’s got the side benefit of resetting my high score and my average).

  14. I heard you quit frenzic because the bride of macenstein beat you is that true?

  15. @ Bride,
    That is pure Hear say.
    – The Doc

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