Cautionary Tales From People Obsessed With Candy Crush

People are still hooked on the popular smartphone game.

ByABC News
November 6, 2014, 3:58 AM
A woman poses for a photo illustration with an iPhone as she plays Candy Crush in New York, Feb. 18, 2014.
A woman poses for a photo illustration with an iPhone as she plays Candy Crush in New York, Feb. 18, 2014.
Carlo Allegri/Reuters

— -- More than two years after its launch, Candy Crush is still luring gamers with its bright lights, perky melody and simple puzzle design -- but some people say their interest has turned into addiction.

Extreme players told ABC News they've found themselves hooked on the game, unable to concentrate on work or chores and even neglecting their children at times.

"From the time I started playing, it was just all I could think about," writer Erickka Sy Savane said. "I was one of those people you see on the trains and in the grocery store lines playing -- whenever I had a free moment."

Savane, who lives in New Jersey, said she even started to ignore her two daughters.

"I would sneak away to be by myself so I could play," she said. "Put them to bed early, drop them off at school really quick -- just kinda push them to the side. It was all-consuming."

Former Candy Crush addict Erickka Sy Savane said she spent day and night glued to the game.

Katie Volney, a publicist in Minneapolis, also describes herself as a former Candy Crush addict.

"My boyfriend and my family would get really annoyed when I was around them and I would be on my phone and iPad all the time," she said. "I even downloaded it on my boyfriend's iPad so I could send myself free lives."

She quit playing so much after realizing how angry loved ones were getting while she was glued to the game. For Savane, quitting Candy Crush was an accident. One day she dropped her phone and the screen shattered -- making it hard to see those tiny, neon-colored candies.

"I was praying for a way out and I felt like in that moment I got the out that I needed," she said. "So I deleted the app from my phone and let the phone stay cracked for at least a month."

Erin Fisher, another self-described Candy Crush addict, hasn't been so lucky -- she's still playing the game every day, often dipping into her bank account to pay the company a fee for nonstop play time.

A user plays the "Candy Crush Saga" puzzle game on an Apple iPhone 5 in this photograph in London, U.K., on Feb. 18, 2014.

"I just spent $9.99 last night for extra lives in the candy bank at like midnight," she said. "I have a full-blown obsession."

"I've easily spent at least $200," she added.

Internet gaming addiction is a psychological condition acknowledged in the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Kimberly Young, a psychologist who studies obsessive Internet use, said it's usually women who get addicted to Candy Crush.

Gamers will know they are addicted if they start ignoring responsibilities like picking the kids up from school or missing deadlines at work, or if they try to hide their habit from worried friends and family, she said.

"And it's not just Candy Crush," Young added. "It was Farmville for a while. ... There's all these games. They become a kind of escape mechanism for a lot of people."

To kick the habit, Young said people should ask themselves if the game is interfering with their typical life and relationships, and if so, delete it immediately. If that's easier said than done, consider talking to an expert, she added.

Psychologist Jenny Taitz agreed, adding that addicts can suffer from long-term stress, potential sleep loss and a diminished sense of accomplishment, especially if gamers are ditching responsibilities to plug in.

"I've never met someone who says, 'I feel really great about myself, I just reached an all-time high on Candy Crush'" she said.