My secret addiction |

My secret addiction

Su Lum

It started simply enough, as most addictions do, with a game called “Gardenscapes,” which my friend Hilary put on my computer.

In “Gardenscapes,” you’re greeted by a middle-aged man named Austin who has enlisted your help in fixing up his neglected garden. To do this, you go from one cluttered room to another, clicking on the listed hidden objects such as shuttlecocks, tennis rackets and bows — watch out for double meanings.

You earn money for the successful completion of these tasks and then can go on to buy improvements — trees, statuary, fountains and even a doghouse and your own dog. It’s cute. It’s fun. By the third room, I was hooked.

“Gardenscapes” went on for several days mainly because I’m slow at it but also because I can neither sit nor stare at the screen for long periods of time. By the time the game ended, my garden was gorgeous, but I was getting tired of the same rooms over and over and was glad to call it a day.

For a week or so, I caught up on email and got a grip on myself, and then I opened “Gardenscapes 2,” followed by “Mansion Makeover,” all featuring Austin and the dog. I couldn’t get through the day without my game fix.

Hilary had downloaded a special package with several games, and I branched out and got a surprise. When asked to find a handprint among the hidden objects, I couldn’t find it anywhere. Doug couldn’t find it, and Hilary couldn’t find it, but she did find a back door to the game, a cheat sheet on the Internet that showed where all the hidden items were. It turned out you were supposed to lift the rag to wipe the windshield and then the handprint appeared.

These games were not as straightforward as the romps with Austin — they were downright tricky. Instead of finding hidden shuttlecocks, I plunged into haunted mansions where I learned to gather keys and matches and herbs to open secret doors and boil special potions, and I had to solve complicated games to proceed to the next level, often going in circles for hours until I had to give up and go to the cheat sheet.

There was a code with four zeros. Above the zeros were a frog, a butterfly, a fish and a rock. I was beside myself and couldn’t find the game on the Internet. Hilary figured out that there were three frogs scattered about in the scene, two butterflies, four fish and one stone, so the code was 3241.

I am too old for this!

Sometimes my mission was to save the world from evil forces, to find the magic crystal to melt the ice, watching the world turn green with sprouting grasses and flowers and birds singing in the trees.

In a game called “Through Andrea’s Eyes,” I negotiated with a one-eyed calico cat, captured lightning bugs in mason jars for illumination and found myself sitting in an embroidered chair on the back of a giant turtle, hurtling through a swamp.

Fun, but there’s a certain sameness with most of the games, and these game people are real pests with incessant pleas for me to purchase their products. I signed up for a 14-day free membership trial when something happened that made my blood run cold — up popped one of those Koch brothers’ anti-Obamacare ads. On my computer screen. On what is basically a kids’ site. I won’t be signing up for that membership.

Su Lum is a longtime local who thinks it’s high time she kicked this new habit. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Reach her at

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