In my Game of the Year 2022 article and video I said something along the lines of “Vampire Survivors is my most played game of the year.” I think that might have been a lie. I didn’t consider that I’ve been playing one classic game almost daily for the whole year. While this might not be the game I’ve put the most time into, I’ve certainly ‘booted’ Jewel more than any other game this year. But why? And why have I never played beyond the first level? Sadly, this is a rather boring tale of how I waste my life to earn tiny amounts of money.
This story begins many years ago, way before the Xbox Series X was released. Microsoft runs a rewards program in which you can earn points by completing tasks. Some of these are web-based, such as searching on Bing, taking part in polls, or completing short quizzes. There’s also an Xbox side to it, with points being given for completing challenges in set Game Pass titles, earning achievements in certain games, and more. As Meghan Trainor almost said, I became all about the points.
In the years leading up to the release of the Xbox Series X, I had become a point-earning machine. I’d do all I could, activating bonuses and completing all the extra activities to amount a digital mountain of this special digital currency. Long story short, I ended up using them all on Microsoft Store credit, which resulted in being able to buy an Xbox Series X for about £50. Despite the daily grind I felt like I’d reached into Microsoft’s pocket and stolen the new console.
But the point comedown was a lot to take. I’d wiped myself out and was starting again from scratch. It also seemed as though points were becoming harder to earn, avenues to get them drying up. That is until I discovered the Xbox app, which let me earn almost 300 points a day. Most of these were through playing PC games (this article could easily have been titled: “I played Forza Horizon 5 over 200 times this year, but never drove a car”), but there’s one tiny point earner tied to finishing a single level of Jewel. So I played Jewel. I played Jewel a lot.
Jewel is launched from within the Xbox app on my phone. As soon as you finish level 1 you receive the notification that you’ve earned some points, so I click it and add them to my stash. I’ve done that most days this year. When I don’t do it, I feel a sense of regret. I am beholden to Microsoft and its reward points scheme. I have even got my son involved and can regularly be heard asking him if he’s “done his searches,” as if checking on the status of his homework. He often hasn’t, but I let him grab some Minecoins now and again anyway. I’m kind like that.
I even managed to get a Steam Deck for about £100 through the rather complicated path of converting reward points into Curry’s PC World vouchers, buying Steam credit on physical cards, then using that to pay off a large chunk of the Deck’s cost.
The point is, though, that I’m now likely a pro gamer at Jewel, but only for Level 1. For all I know the game completely changes from level 2 onwards. I’ve not seen it beyond the screen that says Level 2. Maybe they introduce a new colour jewel, or the jewels change shape, or they start moving on their own as if possessed by a ghost that likes to play symbol colour-match games during its downtime. I don’t know, and I’m not sure if I should be happy about that or not.
On one hand I’ve spent hours of my life this year playing a game I have no desire to play (and countless more hours earning points over the last five or so years), but on the other hand it’s free money. Maybe I’d have earned more money with that time by writing a book about stealth games or something, but anyone could do that. How many people can say they are as good as I am at Jewel Level 1?
With about six years to go until the next Xbox releases, probably, that’s another 1200 games of Jewel Level 1 to play. What a fun life I lead.