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  1. Politics
21 May 2012

Casual gaming in Number 10

What does Cameron see in Fruit Ninja?

By Alex Hern

According to Fraser Nelson in Friday’s Telegraph, a senior government source has revealed that:

the PM spends “a crazy, scary amount of time playing Fruit Ninja on his iPad”.

Fruit Ninja, of course, is the popular iPad game – now back near the top of the bestseller list after this celebrity endorsement – where you cut and cut as quickly as you can until you cut the wrong thing by mistake and then the game ends. It seems like a bit of a busman’s holiday for Cameron.

The life of a Prime Minister must be uncomfortably gamified already. You are continually given a score based on your performance, which is judged against other players on a near-daily basis, and while you attempt to memorise and execute complex manouevres designed to give you a lead, with opaque names like “expansionary fiscal contraction” or “third-sector pathfinder initiative”, there is always the chance some random event like a global financial crisis will pop up and interrupt your flow, bringing it all crashing down.

Indeed, Fruit Ninja is a strange choice of distraction for Cameron. Unlike his previous timewaster of choice, Angry Birds, there is no completion to chase, no victory condition where you can put the game down with a confident glow. You play until you lose, and you hope that when you lose your numbers were better than everyone else’s. Sadly, freedom of information legislation doesn’t extend to high scores, and the PM refused to answer Telegraph deputy editor James Kirkup’s questions on the matter, so we can’t compare his skill at cutting fruit with his skill at cutting spending, but it seems like when he’s bored of the game, it may be worth moving on to something a little less like the day job.

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Unfortunately, the bestseller charts aren’t particularly helpful. Cut the Rope extends the unfortunate slashing theme, while Bejeweled focuses too much on the high-score chase. Given the Prime Minister is likely to want to keep his addiction on the down-low, a social game like Draw Something might not be the best idea, and too much time spent playing Extinction Squad, saving cuddly creatures from obliteration, may remind him of the uncomfortably unfulfilled pledge to become the greenest government ever.

Perhaps he ought to give Minecraft a go. It has no scores reminding him of his (lack of) progress, no fellow players to compare himself unfavourably to and really no aim other than to just do what you want. It’s also a game in which you can literally dig your way out of a hole, which is probably a dream come true.

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