Q: None of the apps on my phone are working except this one. Can you help me?
A: Thank you for playing Apartémon, the number one AR (augmented reality) game for making New Friends! Best of luck starting your digital adventure, and feel free to consult our 24-hour chat line anytime you need help by tapping [Plead].
Q: Thanks, but that doesn’t answer my question. I need to be able to look at texts and emails and stuff, but none of my other apps work. I don’t even remember downloading this game, it just appeared this morning. What’s going on?
A: As a social AR game, Apartémon is not downloaded through the app store. Another player AirDropped it to you while you were out walking your dog. Once installed, you must play the game to completion to unlock other functions.
Q: So, it’s a virus?
A: No. It’s the number one AR (augmented reality) game for making New Friends. Please try to keep up.
Q: Fine, how do I play? Is it quick?
A: No. Apartémon is played entirely inside your apartment. As you roam the three rooms in which you already spend 80% of your life, you will encounter various types of New Friends. You must capture and train your New Friends to become an Apartémon master.
Q: What does Apartémon mean? Is it short for “Apartment Monster?”
A: No. This isn’t Pokémon. It means “My Stage Whisper” in French.
A: I am always serious.
Q: I met Prof Buckeye, the weird guy at the beginning of the game who told me basically everything you told me and gave me my first handful of Apartéballs. He looks familiar. Have I seen him somewhere before?
A: If you had spent any time socializing at Ohio State instead of playing video games in your room, you would know that he is the university’s mascot, Brutus Buckeye, only wearing a lab coat instead of a mid-century football uniform. He is not a real professor, nor any kind of scientist, but that doesn’t matter to you! As of his visit, you are now an Apartémon Trainer, and you don’t have time to worry about whence Prof Buckeye derives his authority. Focus instead on collecting powerful Friends to help you become an Apartémon Master!
Q: What is a buckeye, anyway?
A: It’s the name of both a type of tree native to North America, and the nuts produced by that tree, of which Prof Buckeye’s head is a giant one, with a face.
Q: Are they edible?
A: If you want to die, sure!
Q: How do I catch more Apartémon?
A: First of all, they’re not called that. They’re New Friends (Apartémon is a social game, remember). You catch them using the Apartéballs, which are actually unusually large, heavy buckeyes. Your existing Friends battle the newcomers until they are sufficiently weak. Then, you hurl an Apartéball at their head, knocking them unconscious, by tapping [Capture]. Finalize the capture by transporting them to the laundry closet and tapping [Imprison].
Q: But I don’t have any Friends yet. How do I get my first one?
A: Your starter Friend is the dog you were walking when you received the game. You do not have to capture them, simply aim your phone at your dog and tap [Conscript].
Q: Can I contact the person who sent me this game?
A: I doubt it. They’re not going to be leaving their apartment anytime soon either.
Q: Why did they do this? What’s the point of sending me this game?
A: That’s exactly what you’re meant to think about. What is the point? The game may seem like a waste of time, but was walking your dog, going to work, or scrolling through Facebook any more meaningful? Do these banal rituals improve you in any way? Do you like walking your dog, or are you just doing it because that’s what you’re supposed to do?
Q: The dog needed a walk.
A: You view walking your dog as important, but wouldn’t anything feel equally important, as long as it involved meeting an obligation handed to you by somebody else?
Q: You’re supposed to answer my questions, not ask other questions in response.
A: That’s not a question.
Q: Yeah, I’m not really into this. I’m taking my phone to the Apple store to get rid of this app.
A: Take your time.
Q: Well, that was a waste of four hours. Can you please tell me how to uninstall? I really don’t want to play this game.
A: You could always restore your phone to its factory settings.
Q: But I’d lose everything that’s stored on it.
A: See, you get it. Might as well play the game.
Q: I’ve been pacing my apartment, but I haven’t encountered any Aparté… any New Friends. What am I doing wrong?
A: You expect your New Friends to just wander into your apartment without a little help? You have to attract them with food! Get some Apartésausages by aiming your phone at the refrigerator and tapping [Reload], then leave a plate sitting out by tapping [Lure]. When a New Friend comes to snack on them, initiate a battle by tapping [Blindside].
Q: During battle, why am I being given the option to [Eat] the Apartéball?
A: Eating any object smaller than your fist is always technically an option. It might hurt you, temporarily or permanently, but if you can fit it in your mouth, you can probably eat it. I just think this is something worth remembering, in general.
Q: So far, I’ve caught four different cats, a Chihuahua, and a California Ground Squirrel. Are there any types of Friends besides dog-type, cat-type, and squirrel-type?
A: Those are the only three types of Friends available to an Apartémon Trainer. Dog-type is strong against squirrel-type but weak against cat-type, cat-type is strong against dog-type but weak against squirrel-type, and squirrel-type is strong against cat-type but weak against dog-type.
Q: I ran out of Apartéballs. How do I get more?
A: They’re in the medicine cabinet. Hold the phone in front of your antidepressants and tap [Transmogrify].
Q: Prof Buckeye said something about an “Apartédex.” What is it?
A: You can access the Apartédex using the computer in your apartment. It’s a social media front-end that you use to obsessively create accounts for all the Friends you’ve collected and post photos of them with captions written in their voices. Just another of the many futile attempts you’ve made to remedy the isolation inherent in digital life.
Q: Can I get followers for my Apartédex accounts?
A: It’s cute that you expect people to care about this.
Q: Can I do anything else with the computer?
A: You can respond to event invites you’ve gotten from people you claim to know in “real life,” but please note that, no matter how you respond, you won’t be able to leave the apartment to go to any of them. As if the idea of making actual friends is a fantasy that you can never act on. So, the same thing you’ve always used it for.
Q: I encountered a rat. Is it considered a squirrel-type Friend?
A: No, that’s just a rat. You can’t catch it, but you may have to fight it if it shows up to snack on the Apartésausages.
Q: Same deal with cockroaches? They’re attracted by the food?
Q: Come to think of it, how are all these dogs, cats, and squirrels getting into my apartment?
A: Remember when you moved in and thought, I should have something done about the leaky windows in this place, until you realized that would involve talking to your landlord, and you decided to play Mario Kart instead?
Q: No offense, but I really don’t want to play this game. I tried restoring my phone to factory settings, but nothing happened. What am I missing?
A: You can’t restore factory settings mid-game.
Q: But I can’t get out of the game.
A: Just think about that stack of games sitting next to your Apartédex that you’ve given up on the moment you got stuck somewhere; this is an opportunity to finally see something through, for once!
Q: Can I look for New Friends outside my apartment? Walking up to the door and tapping [Escape] doesn’t do anything.
A: You cannot [Escape] mid-game. Why would you want to? All your Friends are here. Of, course, I suppose you could simply walk out the door.
Q: But the game doesn’t give me that option.
A: The only options that are ever available to you are the ones you give yourself. If you can’t leave, that’s on you, not the game.
Q: I don’t understand. Are you saying I control the game?
A: Yes, but in a way where the game controls you.
Q: Oh god, there’s so many rats and cockroaches. My apartment is infested. What happened?
A: It’s because you’re always leaving food sitting out.
Q: But don’t I have to leave food out to attract New Friends?
A: Look, no one said this was going to be easy. Your New Friends like food, and so do rats and roaches. They’re just part of the whole Apartémon Master deal.
Q: Is there a way to get rid of the rats and roaches?
A: I suppose, if you were able to leave the apartment, you could purchase traps and poison, as well as steel wool and caulk and other supplies for pest-proofing your home, but that is not possible anymore. If you want to be rid of them, you’ll have to fight every last one personally.
Q: Won’t people be concerned that I serially respond Yes to their event invites, but never show up?
A: No, they’ll figure you’re just really flaky. They won’t know the difference between you and their dozens of other friends who never honor their commitments.
Q: OK, I stopped leaving out food and fought the vermin until they all died. It took two days, but am I finally rid of them?
A: Nope! They’ll be back as soon as you start leaving out food again.
Q: What if I don’t start leaving out food again?
A: Then you won’t be doing much, besides aimlessly pacing your apartment.
Q: Where is all this going? What is the object of the game?
A: To capture, train, and battle to become an Apartémon Master. I feel like we’ve been over this.
Q: But, I mean, what are the metrics attached to that? At what point do you actually become an Apartémon Master? Is there a final boss or something? A certain number you have to catch?
A: Don’t worry about it. Focus on what you need to do now, not the distant goals of the future. True Apartémon Mastery is in your heart.
Q: So, I’m supposed to pace around my apartment playing this game until I die?
A: More or less. When you die, your Friends will ritualistically devour the carcass so that your spirit can finally ascend to the Golden Apartment in the Sky. After you’re gone, your stronger Friends will devour the weaker ones, until there is only one left, who, if they are lucky, will succumb to their wounds before they starve.
Q: Will my Friends also go to the Golden Apartment in the Sky when they die?
A: They don’t have souls, so no.
Q: I’ve been playing for two weeks. This doesn’t have anything to do with the game, but I’m worried about the fact that no one seems to have missed me enough to get in touch. What’s going on in the outside world?
A: Ask your friends.
Q: Do I have any friends, though? I mean, really? People who genuinely care enough to check in and see if I’m okay when I drop off the radar without warning? Maybe I don’t. Maybe my participation in society, or lack thereof, is of no real consequence to anyone. Even me.
A: Without you, the world will go on unaffected. You are not even a cog in the machine. You will never have a shred of meaning to anyone but yourself, and if you can’t even manage that much, then what is the point of you? Society, and even the people who claim to love you, will never provide you with the meaning you seek. You have to make your own meaning.
Q: Who am I talking to right now?
A: The same person you’ve always been talking to. The one who answers all the questions by providing answers you should already know, when you need the comfort of a voice outside yourself to validate the uncomfortable truths of your existence. A stage whisper. An echo, buoyed by the acoustics of the high-vaulted brainpan where you act out all these games to augment the bleakness of your reality.
Q: Prof Buckeye?
A: Apartéballs are in the medicine cabinet.