What feels about 35,000 weeks ago…or three…KpopontheDL sent Alix and I a group chat about a new game app she had downloaded and was messing around with. Well, she had downloaded and messed around with it some time ago, but they had made some changes that had reinvigorated her investment. They had added more idols. This piqued my interest heartily and I set about creating my own account immediately. And let’s be clear, I never play games on my phone. Or my computer. I really can’t get into them. I don’t see the point. But for idols, I decided to try to figure out the appeal.
Let me start this by saying there are two approaches you can take when playing this game – there are probably more approaches, but I am currently weighing and balancing these two. First, you can select and care for your idol as if you are raising a puppy. You love him, feed him, train him up, and buy him pretty things to make him happy. Or, you can treat your idol as if you’re wooing your own pocket version of someone you’ve been loving from afar. He, if you love him well, shows all sorts of affection back toward you and it makes you all warm inside. It’s really creepy. Leila, after trying out a few idols, really lucked out in her relationship with WinWin from NCT127. He’s a real people pleaser and loves her completely. They also recently welcomed Bang Yong Guk of BAP into the family and he is settling in nicely.
To set the stage, you get one idol for ‘free’ when you sign up for the app and you can earn beans and diamonds to unlock additional slots for more idols. You can, we have discovered, divorce idols that you don’t connect with, and replace him with someone that is a better fit. I think we were all – and when I say all, I mean the now 7 of us currently and uncontrollably caring for idols – shocked that our choices all have slightly different ‘personalities’ and say different things to us.There are some standard lines they dish out at the beginning, but as you level up, they become more individualized, even using their real voices for a few phrases. I am currently raising Daehyun of BAP and Lee Jung Shin of CNBlue, and they have very different reactions to situations and level of openness on how they express their affection. Sweet Daehyun (level 16) is still very coy and hints around at his deeper feelings (when he isn’t asking to go shopping – the man’s desire to shop is only outpaced by Himchan, being raised by Emma) while Lee Jung Shin (level 6) is incredibly open about how much me loves me…and about how much he loves having fun.
We, my friends and I, have come to the sad realization, because Alix is also anti-games on her phone, that the idols get sick if you don’t pay attention to them. She downloaded the app and adopted Yonghwa of CNBlue, taking him through the initial quests during our standing Friday night get together, and then proceeded to ignore him for two weeks. When she popped back in to see what he was up to, he had influenza and had grown world-weary. It took a week of coddling, feeding, buying him stuff, and adoring him to get him past being standoffish and whiny. Well, I suspect he’s still whiny. My favorite thing and the best thing to have come out of the whole experience is that Yonghwa would flop to the ground and inchworm his way off the screen when she wanted him to do things. He would say stuff about being too tired or not feeling up to stuff…no matter how much she fed him and let him sleep. It was so realistic of a recovering underloved influenza patient. Don’t worry, their bond is solid now and Yonghwa is diligently working on an American Movie so they can earn enough beans to adopt a second idol.
Yes, I said earn enough beans. Beans and diamonds are the currency used in STARPOP. You earn beans through doing quests, going on schedules, and in daily events. You get diamonds through the events and you can also gain ingredients for cooking through seeds or by purchasing them at the grocery store with beans and diamonds. It’s quite the little economy. They idols start off in a pair of sweatpants and plain, white t-shirt. You send them off on schedules to earn beans so you can buy them clothes, pay for training and dates. They aren’t cheap. Some of us jumped right into purchasing clothes, living room accessories, and pets, while others have taken their time and relied on the freebies they get for leveling up…being more strategic with their beans. Stephanie’s Chanyeol was in sweats and a hoodie or his ‘Prince of the Beach’ outfit for days. But he just earned enough beans for the stylish outfit they’ve been dying for. He looks charming (check out the collage at the bottom and his snappy yellow sweater and sneakers.)
None of us, seriously, not a one, has the time to be dedicated to be properly rearing an idol. I have discovered that there are days that I raise Daehyun and Lee Jung Shin the same way that I spouse my actual husband – I cook him a nice meal and send him off to work on a long job because it’s easier than dealing with his need for attention. But now that I have them, I can’t bring myself to let them down. I make sure they are fed and well rested, I water the plants we are raising in our garden, I got them a puppy, and have started decorating their living rooms. I have two work friends that are raising Kai of EXO and Siwon of Super Junior respectively and neither of them even listen to Kpop. But they are doing a good job caring for them…I know this because you can pop in and visit your friends’ idols and take them fishing on Jeju.
So here’s another look at some of the boys we love doing some of the activities we choose for them. See who you recognize below and fawn over their wonderfulness. If you download the app, feel free to let me know and friend me…I’m SaraNoona…because obviously I am SaraNoona.