Candy Crunch is a parody Match 3 game which highlights and critiques the implicit presence of labor in games. In Candy Crunch, you cannot play the game unless you create it first.
Candy Crunch opens to a familiar scene: a candy-themed Match 3 web game. Between the overprocessed art, the simple swapping mechanic, and the bouncing music, Candy Crunch’s aesthetic is a bastardization of Candy Crush and Bejeweled, in all their psychologically pleasurable glory. But the tensile reproduction collapses when the candies stop falling onto the game screen and upon further inspection of the game space is not limited to the purview of a 5×5 grid.
When the candies stop appearing, the player must create the game and go behind the scenes into a slapdash factory. Each click becomes tedious: create a candy, color a candy, send a candy into the game. Create a candy, color a candy, send a candy into the game. Create a candy, color a candy, send a candy into the game. Create a candy, color a candy, send a candy into the game. Repopulating the game screen is a chore; what was once a pleasurable experience is grating work.
In connecting labor and play, Candy Crunch seeks to draw attention to the fact that games such as Candy Crush are not free – that the player is doing labor for the designers, providing capital in their play. Candy Crunch asks that players remember that play is not divorced from work. Creating games, playing games, and creating the tools that creating/play games cannot occur without labor, perhaps even exploited labor.
Candy Crunch is an experiment in creating a parody game and critiquing a game largely through interactions, mechanics, and underlying systems. It is based upon the thesis of its sister paper by the designer, “Games about Games: Playing Parody Games as Criticism.”