Think of the word “dragon”. What other words spring to mind? Scaly, perhaps, or sinewy. Powerful. Terrible and awesome. Cunning. Sleek, stocky, supple, gnarled. A dragon is an ancient thing of cunning and strength. Like a cat, its movements embody both poetry and danger. 

Now think of the words “soccer player”. (Or “football player” for anyone anywhere other than Australia and the US). What other words spring to mind? Possibly some very similar ones—sleek, supple, sinewy, powerful. Maybe not scaly or gnarled (they use too much product for that), but there is definitely some overlap. Like a cat, a soccer player’s movements embody both poetry and danger.

There exists in this world a game called Dragon City. You may have received pleading emails from Facebook friends, “inviting” you to join. Do not succumb! It is highly addictive, particularly for those of us who feel strong compulsions to complete sets, or to collect one of every kind of thing. Even I, a cheapskate, have spent $4 on in-game purchases. Those who tend to fail the Delayed Gratification Marshmallow Test would spend much, much more. Wannabe app-billionaires would do well to study the structure of Dragon City and how it feeds addiction.

In this game, you breed and hatch and collect dragons—all sorts of dragons. There’s the Flame dragon, the Jade dragon, the Burning dragon and the Star dragon. There are also some frankly ridiculous dragons—the Mojito dragon, the Gummy dragon, the Icecube dragon (I mean COME ON) and so forth. But one dragon offends above the rest.

The Soccer dragon.

Now, I like dragons. I also quite like soccer. But the Soccer dragon is an offense to both. If I was a real dragon, I would swoop down on the creator(s) of the Soccer dragon and tear out their guts. Then I would steal their huge piles of Dragon City gold and burrow into it to sleep, or swim about in it like a dragony Scrooge McDuck. If I was a real soccer player I would be more constrained by legalities but I would want to do the same.

Let us look at a picture of the Soccer dragon. What words spring to mind? Does it conform in any way to your mental image of either dragons or soccer players?

The "soccer" "dragon" in Dragon City.

The "soccer" "dragon" in Dragon City.

Of course it doesn’t. This dragon is clearly a buffoon, a hooligan. It’s wearing CLOTHES. (Dragons shouldn’t wear clothes). He has HAIR—and terrible hair, at that. (Maybe Neymar could get away with it). There is no way this dragon could lay waste to a city or devour an entire hillside of sheep. When it attacks, it kicks a stupid football at you! Ooh, scary. Far from inspiring awe and terror, this dragon inspires contempt. I take great pleasure in crushing every Soccer dragon that comes my way with my Elements dragon, Bunny, who I have trained in the Magma Attack, to which Soccer dragons are fortunately susceptible. 

The Soccer dragon is clearly popular with other Dragon City players, given the frequency with which I encounter it in battles. Each time I see it I am confounded—as to the tastes of my opponents, and the nature of people who purport to like dragons and/or soccer and yet do not see this concept as a blot upon both dragonkind and the beautiful game. Even worse, the makers of Dragon City have recently brought out MORE soccer-themed dragons for the World Cup. Being eaten is too good for them.

But here’s the rub - because I am a collector, I must possess the Soccer dragon to complete my collection. I am complicit. I hate myself as much as I hate them.