On Doping and Detonators

I’m a huge fan of the game Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook. For some reason, I find it exceptionally soothing to organize colored gems until they form rows and explode. That each game lasts just 60 seconds is a bonus. My Blitz breaks are just that, as opposed to never-ending time-wasters on the Web.

Recently, the creators of Bejeweled Blitz added gold coins into the mix. Players can collect these coins and then trade them for “boosts” like detonators, which let you explode lots of gems at once.

I have noticed, since these boosts became available, that my fellow players’ scores are skyrocketing. My own scores, too, are being enhanced with every boost that I buy.

It reminds me of the Sammy Sosa/Mark McGwire home run race that dominated Major League Baseball in 2001. Everybody wanted to see how many balls these guys could blast out of the park (i.e., how high their scores could go) when, all the while, they were apparently using performance-enhancing drugs to cheat the system.

I never really cared about Sosa or McGwire doping, until now. Every time I get walloped by another Blitzer, I want to know whether they were using a boost. I don’t begrudge anybody their detonator if they’ve earned enough coins to buy it, but I think it only fair that the rest of us players should be alerted when a super-high score is achieved by somebody who, say, uses three boosts simultaneously.

It’s not like we’d be dragging these Blitzers in front of Congress to testify like the ballplayers did, but a little transparency would go a long way toward having the game feel fair. With detonators, as with doping, it’s not so much the using as the admitting that counts.

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