A new iPhone app made me realize that my life is nothing but a game. The Carrot to-do list is Siri’s evil twin. She’s a condescending, sadistic program that resides in your iPhone with the sole purpose of putting you down as you carry out real-life tasks. Forget any sense of accomplishment: She’ll shoot it all down.
Normally, iPhone apps and games exist for my amusement. In this case, I exist for her amusement. Each time you clear a to-do list, you complete a level. The first level works as a tutorial to teach you the app’s gestures: Swipe down to add an item, swipe left to open the menu, swipe right to clear an item. After you complete those tasks and clear them according to the instructions (that includes adding your own item and clearing it), you proceed to level two.
Carrot congratulated me by saying, “You made it to level 2? Pardon my surprise. Without direct supervision, I figured you’d just sit there drooling mindlessly.” Ouch. Then she rewarded me by telling me how to say “manatees” in binary code, adding, “I’m sure you’ll find that useful one day.” Thanks, Carrot. She once even told me that I’d be killed by setting my hair on fire.
I’m not making that up.
Part of the fun of doing everyday things with this app, like grocery shopping, is that you cross it off your list and have Carrot criticize you every step of the way. You have to be a bit of masochist, and failing to complete your tasks will only piss her off. It’s a lose-lose for you.
It’s no accident that Carrot’s first to-do list plays out like a game tutorial. Carrot’s creator, Brian Mueller, says on his blog that he looked to games for inspiration. “When you play a game, you start out with only one or two basic abilities. New ones are introduced over the course of the game, once you’ve gotten used to messing with the old ones,” says Mueller. “You start off with the ability to create and complete tasks, then you unlock additional features as you kick ass in real life and level her up in her game.”
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