“Incremental games, also known as clicker games, clicking games or tap games, are video games whose gameplay consists of the player performing simple tasks such as clicking on the screen repeatedly.” (Wikipedia)
I recently got sucked into the browser game Cookie Clicker again. It’s a simple game. There’s a big cookie on screen and you click it to start baking cookies. When you make enough cookies you can buy a cursor that will click for you every 10 seconds. Or a grandma that will bake a cookie every second. Better yet, you can build a farm or have a mine. Eventually this gets out of hand. The final “building” you can buy in Cookie Clicker is the idle verse. Where you basically steal cookies from alternate universes. I do feel bad for the alternate universe me who is getting their cookies stolen but it’s for an important cause. On top of this you can buy upgrades to make your building better, do special minigames for bonuses and complete achievements. But a vast majority of the game consists of letting it run while you save up for the next upgrade or clicking on the randomly spawning golden cookie that gives a buff to your cookies per second or your cookies per click.
The question stands, why do I, and many other people, play this game when all you do is watch the number go up?
It’s a distraction mostly. It fills idle time really well. The time in my life when I played the most idle games was when I worked in an office. For a short period of two years back in the early 2010s I thought it’d be a good idea to work in business economics. I was an intern in a motorcycle store that has since gone under. Perhaps because they had a lot of their books handled by underqualified interns. I like to think I was pretty good at what I did. It’s not exactly difficult either. But man is it boring. Doing the same thing every day, unpaid and just bored out of your mind. It doesn’t help that being outside my house makes me uncomfortable. Not to a major degree, but enough for my energy to drain very fast. I’ve gone over this many times. During this hellish period in my life I had two things that kept me company. Talking to my friends on steam chat and playing cookie clicker.
I couldn’t click the golden cookie at work too often, since one of the big bonuses involves clicking very fast and I didn’t want my boss to notice I was slacking off. Should have paid me for my labor if he didn’t want me to slack off, but I did still want to get a passing grade for that internship. Watching the number go up was more interesting than my actual job.
Now I’m just playing it on the side since some part of my monkey brain does like seeing the number go up. There’s really nothing to it, it’s just number get big, big number is good.
I have better jobs now. Both mail delivery and teaching are so much more fun than doing business economics in a stuffy office. But the clicker game has remained. As I’m writing this I’m keeping an eye out for the spawning golden cookies, just to get some bonuses. I like doing weird challenges in these games. There’s no failing it really, so you can just do what you what and get that small dopamine hit. And out of all the incremental games I’ve tried over the years, cookie clicker has always stayed the most fun.
And you, my dear reader? Do you like incremental games? My brother actually works for one. It’s a shame I don’t play it, but I don’t like playing games on my phone. These games earn a lot of money though, so good for them. Let me know your recommendations if you play these kinds of games, or if you have a particularly strong opinion about them I’d love to hear it. As always, thanks for reading and see you tomorrow!