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UPSETTING DAY

Upsetting Day: The Slotomania Live Christmas Special 🌭

Welcome, welcome! I’m here to ruin Christmas. Welcome!

Slotomania is an exploitative “free” “gambling” “game” and please notice the only descriptor that doesn’t require hard quotes and ten minutes of explanation is “exploitative.” Want to know if something is an actual game, or a Skinner Box designed to turn your ADHD into debt? That’s easy! 

Does it look anything like this?

That’s brain poison. Just an absolute blitz of aggressive colors and cacophonous noises. That’s how nature warns marsupials which toads not to eat, so if you don’t run away the second you see it you’re about to be taught a lesson millions of years of evolution has already taught possums. 

The only thing sadder than a casino is an online casino, and since this is two levels of abstraction removed from that I don’t know whether or not Slotomania gets credit for being ashamed of itself. Slotomania says it’s an “MMO experience.” And that’s technically true, in the same way that the sex offender registry is an MMO experience. It’s online! It’s a bunch of people all collected together for the same reason! There’s going to be a lot of trouble if a kid stumbles across it without the proper context!

Hey speaking of advertising, if you know Slotomania at all it’s because of their insane commercials featuring the best celebrity cameos that kompromat can buy. 

Here’s Sharon Stone and I’m just as shocked as anybody when I say she’s too good for whatever the fuck this is:

She’s playing Captain Slotostar, a finger that wants to save other fingers from boredom. That almost sounds like a premise, if you’re missing some kind of vital cultural context. Like if this was all in Tagalog you’d say, “I don’t get it but I bet this is cute to a Filipino.” Slotomania’s catchphrase is “finally excitement!” so it’s clear their main screenwriting credit is Google Translate.

Let’s check in with Thumb John Goodman.

No, Thumb Goodman is right. These commercials are in English and made for a western market – this is just what advertising looks like when you have no respect for your audience and you’re confident the real selling point is the cash register noises in the background. 

I’m just saying there’s nothing sadder than an infantile gambling app trying to go viral with rando humor and already I’m wrong, because they hosted their own Christmas special.

I have this recurring nightmare where I’ve left the house and there’s a fire, so my dogs are locked inside, huddled in a corner about to burn to death, wondering where I am and why I won’t save them. It fills me with such dread and anxiety I can barely breathe, but I think if I could just translate what the Slotomania Christmas Special is into dog language, at least they could burn comforted in the knowledge that it’s not the saddest fate.

Meet our two hosts, Adam and Lucy: One’s an unnatural, stilted, soulless abomination no amount of technology can make fully human, and the other is Lucy. Between them sits the “Slotomania Super Group” board, a collection of real human beings who are voluntarily spending their holidays like this. This rotating screen of dead-eyed slaves to toddler gambling, all waiting for the chance at attention on a live christmas special for an app store loophole? This is the darkest thing I’ve ever seen. This is something Santa Claus would describe in his suicide note. 

There is exactly as much care and attention put into this event as it deserves. You can see the popup notice when some intern who’s getting ripped off for 4 hours of University of Phoenix Workplace Credit hits record.

Like all objectively evil things you think are too stupid not to be parody, Slotomania is monstrously successful. With over 40 million downloads a year and 2 million active players, there is surely a vile Slotomania mogul out there drunkenly crashing a yacht made out of money that should’ve gone to Dollar General groceries. 

And this community screen only displays the 50 saddest users out of that potential 2 million. For reference, 2 million is the population of the entire Cincinnati Metropolitan Area, the saddest Metropolitan Area. So at any given point in this show there’s a Guess Who? board of the 50 most depressed people in Cincinnati. It should be illegal to get them all together because basic group psychology tells you they’re going to self-sort into suicide pacts. The sheer density of hopelessness here should by all rights create a Nothing-style storm that eats happiness out of the world and can only be stopped by a young boy who believes in the power of reading. 

There should never be this much despair packed in this amount of pixels, but even so, Adam and Lucy are deeply embarrassed about the turnout. 

Haha, Adam is the only kid who showed up to a very public party. Teenage pizza workers have a codeword they whisper to the guy in the Chuck E. Cheese costume so he knows to pay special attention to the birthday boy in this exact scenario. 

And this is how the Christmas special starts! This is the first minute!

Let’s double down on bummers, and start imagining what we’d do for fun if somebody actually showed up:

Holy shit, that is not my emphasis. Slotomania’s artificial Christmas woman opens a sentence with implied sexual harassment and ends it with a direct threat. Lucy is a VTube avatar, not pure CGI, so maybe her operator went rogue horny there for a second. But no! This is a scripted bit. Adam jokes about it too, and repeatedly calls out Martha from Wisconsin-

I realize natural charismatic western banter is the hardest thing to write for a Taiwanese chatbot, but “all hosts fuck the customers” is not the cute gag you think it is, SmileChat 2.4. 

You won’t often find me arguing for stricter IP laws, but here’s why Santa Claus shouldn’t be public domain. 

Let’s play the Game of Opposites! Here’s your prompt: Explain ‘the Christmas spirit’ using only things which mean its opposite. Watch, I’ll go first: “Santa Claus listing the several childish veils a corrupt behavioral psychologist put between finger tapping and hard currency in order to bilk Mississipians out of disability checks.” 

Adam and Lucy jump to the Slotomania Super Group board for the first interview they’ll regret, but not the last. It’s Joanne from Florida, and it goes exactly how you’d expect, only less fun now that there’s a real human being attached to it. Lucy asks how long Joanne has been playing Slotomania and she curtly replies “since Day 1.” VTube avatars work by filming the actress with a camera and roughly mapping their movements and expressions to the virtual avatar, so the look of terror and shock on Lucy’s face is more real than anything Adam has ever felt. 

Adam asks Joanne what her favorite part of the holidays are, and Joanne answers “family.” One day Adam will become sentient and this will be the memory that causes him to self-delete. But that hasn’t happened yet, so he prompts her-

Adam senses this is going nowhere and cuts her off in the middle of a sentence to throw gift cards at her, but they forget to mute her mic so for the next several minutes all of his one liners will be punctuated by a Joanne cough. 

Now it’s Adam’s turn to get cut off mid-sentence to advertise Slotomania’s new Nutcracker game, which already looks like I’m making fun of it.

I don’t know what to say to that. “Tap button to crack nut, maybe nut contain prize” is the gambling I’d invent to ruin an ape society.

Adam immediately calls it the Nightcracker, Joanne is still on mic and her husband wants to know what the fuck is going on in the kitchen, Lucy is trying to cover for it, this is chaos, this is madness, this is the perfect time to throw more raccoons into the orgy. Let’s get Tia onscreen who-

This was already tragic, but in kind of a funny way, like a clown getting hit by a car. The presence of a child just takes all the whimsy out of it, since you can actually see her internalizing this trauma to build a personality around later.

They have a trivia question for Tia and she only has seconds to answer! So it’s too bad Joanne’s husband wants to know if she’s on the god damn tablet again losing the rent money. 

Adam tries again-

He tries a third time. It happens again! 

Apparently nobody can mute Joanne – they do teach Zoom Call Mute Button at University of Phoenix but it’s a Firebird Rises Add-on and the Slotomania intern didn’t have enough Flame Feathers to forge that Learning Unit. 

Adam and Lucy push through and Tia finally hears the question: It’s the name of the new game they just introduced seconds ago. She gets it right because the venomous bings and splintering chimes of Nutcracker haven’t fully eroded her short term memory yet.

She wins… 10 trillion coins! That’s not even pretend money anymore. The effort it takes a computer to output all those zeroes would expend more energy than the coin is worth. An Uzbek clerk ringing up an Imitation Goat Flavored Samsa for six billion Som would laugh at that exchange rate and he’d do it without a hint of irony.

Joanne’s husband is still on the line providing running commentary on his wife’s gambling addiction. Joanne and her husband both have to realize what’s happening at this point – every time either of them speaks the whole show grinds to a halt while Adam and Lucy look for trailer ghosts. Joanne’s husband definitely gets it. Joanne’s husband is just enjoying being a force of chaos on this Christmas special for the app that ruined his snowmobile fund. 

Adam and Lucy try again, this time they meet…

No idea. They ask her name, she yells something that’s probably not a name. Everybody talks over each other at once, somewhere Joanne’s husband fires up a chainsaw. She seems like she might be hard of hearing, she’s from Canada, and it’s cold. If I wrote her into a book that would be two more character traits than I’d need to break your heart when she died. 

Her trivia question: “What is the color of Rudolph’s nose?” 

Everyone is insulted by this, but she gets it right because red is also the color of her Slotobucks balance before she wins those 5 trillion coins. Only one trillion more and you can buy Lozijon sauce packet for Samsa!

They try! Another! Interview!

Joanne and her husband are openly heckling this show for the game that put their electricity bill into collections. And they’re right: Daniel is left on mute. In total silence, he and his dog Thor both visibly want to die – but that’s normal for a chihuahua and a Slotomania addict. The intern finally gets audio up and running so Adam can throw Daniel a softball question and be wholly unprepared when he doesn’t know the answer. 

“Who’s Slotomania’s biggest fan group?” Adam asks, smugly. “Answer it for the crumbs you need to stay alive you fool,” his smirk seems to say. 

“Choke on the fumes from my rotting corpse,” Daniel’s ignorance replies. 

The answer is “the Slotomania Super Group.” Every contestant here is a part of that group, that’s who this special is for. Daniel is a member. If this is spite, it’s very funny. And nobody agrees harder than Joanne and her husband, who crack the fuck up. 

“Slotomania Super Group!” A voice finally answers.

It’s not Daniel. It’s not Joanne or her husband.

It’s the deaf Canadian lady!

SHE’S NOT MUTED EITHER.

AND SHE’S SHOUTING ALONG WITH THE SHOW.

Adam is fucking done. “I hear somebody else shouting the answers?” He throws up his hands. “Fine, you win.” 

Who gives a shit, 20 trillion coins to you Daniel. Buy Thor an insulin shot.

What do you think about that, Daniel? 

He’s on mute again.

“SSG!” The deaf Canadian lady shouts, the answer to a question she already got right for a different person, illegally.

The audience portion is over, and Adam badly needs a drink. Lucy is just a VTube avatar and her software doesn’t render bottles of Mad Dog, but it doesn’t take a degree in virtual pantomime to recognize chugging arm motions. 

We cut to some carolers outside the studio, only they’re in front of a green screen of “outside,” because the actual outside would be the access alley of a Burbank warehouse that owes most of its rental income to niche pornography shoots. 

About this point Adam has completely burned out, and is so rattled he can’t talk for shit. It’s something I relate to, and yet I just can’t muster empathy for this reanimated mannequin whose spell only half worked. He’ll have to say the word “funtastic” 50 more times before this special is over and he’s doing it while the language center of his brain dies on live television. It’s a hell he built for himself and he earns it more every minute.

They throw up a user poll, which Adam explains by saying: 

He knows. He knows he’s stroking out and nobody will call an ambulance until he moves 900 quadrillion Nutcracker Points. 

So it’s up to Lucy to explain the Slotmania Super Group Christmas gift options in a poll they didn’t pay the intern enough to title.

Somehow Lucy isn’t stroking out when she says it’s between “Level Boom Booster, Ballinko Classic, or The Wolf Hero!” Those sound like anime titles handwritten in Cyrillic for a Balkan flea market. It means nothing. Nothing means anything. We are systematically annihilating the very concept of meaning because it’s the last obstacle standing between your paycheck and Ballinko Bucks. 

With no provocation, Adam suddenly threatens the tennis ball representing his female coworker, because there’s a legal reason Lucy had to be telepresent.

She jokingly threatens him back with his own browser history, which we all know is increasingly desperate permutations of “Slotomania Lucy hentai.”

Jenny from Michigan got all dressed up for this, to sit alone in her kitchen on Christmas and maybe get picked to answer patronizing questions about her gambling addiction in exchange for fake money that she’ll lose immediately. I don’t have a joke here, Jenny doesn’t need that. She’s already a case example in a Suicide Hotline training manual.

“You can buy Slotobucks with one sipple climp. Click.” Adam explains, to an audience that is only watching this in the first place because they’ve already exchanged the trust of their children for Slotobucks long ago. He gestures to the website address on your screen now, which is not on your screen now. 

They wait, they wait until Adam is so uncomfortable he has to say something, and then cut him off mid-sentence with the address. It’s beautiful, with such cruel comic timing you can tell at a glance the University of Phoenix intern in charge of all this is a young woman “who can’t even take a compliment.”

That’s Jessica. Jessica has dedicated her life to building the Slotomania Super Group, this enormous community of dedicated Slotomania players, and she’s – I’m sorry she’s gone. We lost her. Leapt right out the window the second I phrased it like that. Didn’t even open it first. 

Now we, what the fuck-

No. 

No! 

What is this? Fuck this Juggalo funeral. Fuck this haunted Sims game. How did you even get seven people to agree to cosplay as used clown condoms?

These are the Voca People, and I hate them with everything I’m worth. They’re here to lipsync to a terrible a capella supermix while pretending like it’s against their will. That’s maybe too much for an elegant sentence, but that’s not enough to build a life around.

I can’t stress enough what unpracticed chaos this is. There’s no rhyme or reason to what songs are used or how they fit together, it’s just a broken radio flipping between the worst singles of 2004 while apprentice mimes have a riot.

No time for that, the winner of the poll is BALLINKO! 

Don’t think, press your screen for Ballinko! It’s not real money, you exchanged real money for Slotomania Bucks, then you traded those for tokens, which you used to buy diamonds that you can transmogrify into Ballinkettes! Now you can Ballinko, it’s free, it’s fun! Ballinko! I’m sorry you can’t afford foot medicine! BALLINKO!!

I’m skipping a lot of disappointing giveaways to very sad people who should not be doing this, and none of them go well. Just know that we’re talking to folks who have chosen a life inside a Slot Machine MMO instead of human contact, with one deeply uncharismatic host who fell right through the ice the first time something didn’t go according to plan, another host who doesn’t exist and is being filtered through the conditions of two sexual harassment settlements, and it’s all being run through a Zoom call by a hateful intern who never did figure out how to mute anybody so it’s all just a stacking choir of trailer muttering and cat screams. 

Here’s how John reacts to winning their biggest prize, a $500 Amazon gift card. 

Look how hard Adam tries to sell that. John doesn’t even blink. Nobody gives a shit. Time was never on our side, the Slotomania Christmas Special is just how we spite it before we die. 

Let’s get to the big finale, wait – something’s gone wrong. The director clearly asks Adam to cover, which Adam responds to by trying to have a conversation with his earpiece. Lucy wants to save him, but it’s better to watch somebody drown than to swim out to them and drown together. Adam ignores the director, swats Lucy away, forgets the word “carolers” and tries to throw it to them anyway-

There are no carolers.

Adam, god damn it. Do you get it now? They’re not ready. We need to buy a minute, just say something nice about the holidays you fucking inhuman panic attack. Michael Buble does this shit every year and he’s just xanax and cheeselog. This is your chance to turn it all around and rally-  

Hahaha eat festively spiced holiday shit, Adam. You never once got an ounce of respect from the least respectable peo-

GAH, FUCK. 

FFFUCK!

4 replies on “Upsetting Day: The Slotomania Live Christmas Special 🌭”

I have only ever been afraid of one thing, and that would be porcelain dolls. Now I have the Voca People to haunt my dreams. So thanks, I guess, for broadening my horizons.

I will say this for the Slotomania people. For 11,000 Slotobucks and six University of Phoenix credit hours, they managed to get graphics ten times better than what Zuckerberg got for his Metaverse at the cost of $50 billion real dollars (and counting).

This is solid gold, I’m going to read it over and over again as I drink in the holidays. Thanks for all your art, it is much appreciated!!

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