x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Forget productivity - there are too many cool games on the new phone

I am, it seems, addicted to downloading mainly rubbish yet highly addictive games.

It's fair to say that, since the arrival of a new phone a few months ago, my life has changed somewhat. I won't tell you which handset it is, aside from the fact that it's touchscreen and has a warmingly expensive fruity logo on the back. On the upside, I no longer have to delete old messages whenever new ones come in (the last cost Dh99 and boasted an internal memory space of about one kilobyte). On the downside, my productivity levels have taken a rather significant plummet.

While the phone does indeed enable me to receive spam emails on the go, take high-resolution photos of parking spaces so I can find my car after a shopping trip, or head straight to Wikipedia whenever an argument needs to be won, it's the much-loved and oft-mentioned apps that are doing the damage.

I am, it seems, addicted to downloading mainly rubbish yet highly addictive games. It started with the usual subjects. A bit of Angry Birds here, a spot of Stick Cricket there. Then more unusual ones started coming through. I found a football game where you could score goals by swiping your finger across the screen. And soon after, a similar one for tennis. Then there was a strategy game that put you in charge of an airline. And another in which you managed - of all things - a games development company. Then Sim City for iPhone. And Streetfighter. I was out of control.

Then came the deadly blow. On March 16 - Black Wednesday - I made the dramatic error of buying the video game equivalent of nicotine-laced Pringles: Football Manager. For at least two weeks (and probably more but I'm afraid to admit it), my life officially ended, as the pixelated managerial activity on a 3.5-inch screen dominated almost every spare second. On a positive note, I did succeed in taking Stockport County from the bottom of the English second division to European champions.

While Football Manager may be the tip of the iceberg, the others aren't far behind. Most have a lifespan roughly between one week and one month, but in that time I'm almost fiercely dedicated to their completion, no matter where I am (I've gone sailing past my lift stop numerous times). And just as I tire of one, I'm quickly informed of another waiting in the wings, often on "special offer" for just $0.99 (a false saving, given the subsequent man hours each one obliterates).

Am I alone in this affliction or are there others out there facing similar issues? If there's some sort of support group or helpline I'd be keen to hear it. Perhaps then somebody could tell me how to find the last special award on Angry Birds Rio.