Is there a phone game that approximates a social life?
August 9, 2019 6:53 PM   Subscribe

Facebook is gross, Twitter is screamingly depressing, Peach is all bellyaching, and my group text is only three people—but I crave the specific dopamine hit of having interactions from a human who's interested in my life. How can I approximate this without spending (significant) money or getting sucked back in to social media which is mostly toxic for me?

I've been gradually but steadily dropping social media networks from my life because I don't like how they make me feel. Peach was the last holdout, because it's small and quiet and actively un-political, but I've gotten disillusioned. But I find myself searching for the emotional experience of logging into a social network and having notifications. I've tried to replace Peach with an idle gardening game, but having needy plants is just not a replacement for having needy friends.

I do probably need a more robust face-to-face social life, but let's leave that aside for the moment. Is there a way to get the dopamine hit of social network notifications, but with zero or minimal interaction with/commitment to actual offline humans? It has to work on my phone, because I'm an insomniac and I don't want to have to get out of bed at 3 am. I am willing to pay an initial or SMALL monthly fee; I am not interested in e.g. a game like Kim Kardashian: Hollywood where I feel like I'm being bullied into making a financial investment.
posted by babelfish to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
words with friends?
posted by aetg at 7:00 PM on August 9

Maybe find a Discord for something you're interested in? It's got customizable notifications, and supports voice chat if you find a group you really click with.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:09 PM on August 9 [4 favorites]

I’m in a Slack channel for a podcast I like, which often hits the spot.
posted by Gymnopedist at 7:52 PM on August 9

I haven’t played it yet myself but, if you have an iPhone, Lifeline might be what you’re looking for.
posted by ejs at 7:59 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]

You could give Quora a try. It hits that dopamine gamification spot quite nicely.
posted by Cobalt at 8:01 PM on August 9

I also suggest Discord. Async chat culture doesn't demand anything of you, it's just your friends who are there when you want to chat.
posted by value of information at 9:06 PM on August 9

I haven't played it so not sure if it bullies you for money, I haven't heard that, and it's a romance game, but Mystic Messenger is a messenger app sim that plays out in real time, and people seem to love it.
posted by gaybobbie at 9:56 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]

This is where I mope about the death of livejournal, which was fun specifically because it was longform peeks into other lives, and discussions about such details.
posted by liminal_shadows at 1:25 AM on August 10 [6 favorites]

eh, Mystic Messenger is actually pretty melodramatic/depressing as a VN as someone who played the entire game. Not to mention the real-time elements are time-consuming.

I use Discord to interact with friends and I find it low-key calming since I can check in different times and reply or not. Also, I like forums where I follow topics like cat pics or other images.
posted by chrono_rabbit at 7:53 AM on August 10

Thanks all! I had given Discord a fairly cursory look because someone told me it was like IRC, but the gaming focus turned me off. It sounds like there's more to it if you dig down, but if anyone has suggestions about how to find a congenial place on Discord I'm all ears.
posted by babelfish at 9:57 AM on August 10

Seconding Lifeline and its other sequels — and they're not iPhone-only, if you have an Android.
posted by WCityMike at 10:07 AM on August 10

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