It's 4.30 on a gloomy winter's afternoon. I'm sitting with my grandson having one of those conversations in which grandsons explain complicated stuff to their grandads.
The conversation turns to computing and he inquires whether I have Talking Tom Cat on my iPad. "No," I say. "What is it?" He explains that it's a cool game that his grandma has on her iPad.Silver surfers, eh? So they download and play the game. Why not? It’s free.
I ask him what else Tom can do. Well, explains my grandson, you can dress him up. You can, for example, give him a funny hat. Or make him wear heart-shaped sunglasses. This is accomplished by pressing on a clothes-hanger icon which brings up a list of items including hats, eyewear, accessories and a category labelled "seasonal". Each item costs a number of gold coins. The heart-shaped sunglasses, for example, cost 1,099 coins, and we only have the 254 we were granted when we first opened the app.Oh, you can see where this is going, can’t you?
So how do we acquire the dosh needed for the sunglasses? There appear to be two ways: the first involves playing a tedious game in which Tom has to tiptoe and leap across a range of precipitous columns; the second involves shelling out some real money for them. Seventy-four thousand of them will cost you £17.49, which represents an exchange rate of 4,231 Tomcoins to the pound.Well, consider this a valuable chance to impart one of life’s lessons to the youngling. You can play the ‘tedious game’, earn your Tomcoins and feel superior to all those who took the easy way out. Consider it useful to explain the concept of ‘work’.
But no. Of course not.
Now you might think that it's a dirty trick to sneak hard cash transactions into a charming game designed for four-year-olds, but I couldn't possibly comment …Yes, it’s apparently Apple’s duty to have ‘corporate social responsibility’ and take over the duties of parents somehow...