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Cow Clicker Boils Down Facebook Games 237

mjn writes "Game designer and academic Ian Bogost announces Cow Clicker, a Facebook game implementing the mechanics of the Facebook-games genre stripped to their core. You get a cow, which you can click on every six hours. You earn additional clicks if your friends in your pasture also click. You can buy premium cows with 'mooney,' and also use your mooney to buy more clicks. You can buy mooney with real dollars, or earn some free bonus mooney if you spam up your feed with Cow Clicker activity. A satire of Facebook games, but actually as genuine a game as the non-satirical games are. And people actually play it, perhaps confirming Bogost's view that the genre of games is largely just 'brain hacks that exploit human psychology in order to make money,' which continue to work even when the users are openly told what's going on."
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Cow Clicker Boils Down Facebook Games

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  • Re:Strange Game (Score:5, Interesting)

    by quanticle ( 843097 ) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @05:12PM (#32983294) Homepage

    A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?

    Indeed. I've found that my personal productivity and satisfaction have increased tremendously since I canceled my Facebook account.

  • by TheNarrator ( 200498 ) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @05:22PM (#32983432)

    Anyone read The Social Animal? This is just the initiation effect. To avoid humiliation people are likely to believe that something unpleasant that used a lot of time it must be valuable.

  • by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @05:23PM (#32983452)

    The people who play those games should be filtered out of life by having their money taken away from them until they don't have enough to pay for the basics of life.

    Ann Klinestiver will be glad to know you approve of her former predicament. []

  • by Thud457 ( 234763 ) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @05:34PM (#32983556) Homepage Journal
    Progressquest [] is more better.
    Still wine only for Linux. :-(
  • Lesson (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hardburn ( 141468 ) <hardburn&wumpus-cave,net> on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @05:39PM (#32983610)

    Sometimes, you shouldn't bother fighting stupid. Instead, give up and take their money [].

  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @05:45PM (#32983688) Homepage
    You sometimes discover tht the thing you despise only exists because someone else actually likes it. So your attempt at Parody become a enjoyed by those that like the thing you despise.

    Another great example of this effect is Sherlock Holmes. Conan Doyle definitely grew to dislike Holmes (hence the attempt to kill him off) and some claim Doyle originally intended Holmes as a parody of detectives.

    Me, I don't think 'failing to realize something is a parody' is an insult to the intelligence of people. Instead, I feel it is a failure of the creators. It indicates they have simply have not gone too far.

    For a better parody of simplified online games, look at SMBC Theater []

  • What got me... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @05:46PM (#32983692)

    I played mafia wars for a little while. Up until I found a greasmonkey script that would play the entire game for me. At which time I decided, what's the point?

  • True but irrelevant (Score:5, Interesting)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @06:11PM (#32983980) Journal

    The only question that matters is: do people who play Farmville (etc) have fun doing so?

    If so, then it is a perfectly legitimate form of entertainment, and may well be worth the money they spend on it - not any less so than hardcore gamers playing Fallout or HL2. The latter can similarly be simplified to the point of "you shoot things so that you can shoot more things", and from there on to "you push the button so that you can keep pushing the button", but it misses the crucial point - somewhere along that line of simplification, you lose that quantity called "fun".

    It's like taking some gourmet dish, decomposing it down to raw protein, fat, carbs and minerals, blending them, and saying that the disgusting result is somehow representative of the original food. It is, in some way, but it's not the way that matters.

  • Quit cold turkey (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rwa2 ( 4391 ) * on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @07:41PM (#32984830) Homepage Journal

    I pretty much quit the Zynga games (and by extension, pretty much Facebook) cold turkey a few months ago, and savor that extra hour or two I have per day (to post to Slashdot, apparently :P ) But never looked back.

    I reached level 200-something in Mafia Wars on two accounts (the only way to guarantee you always have energy and items) and also had a modest start with Starfleet Commander and Extreme, as well as a little bit of Yoville (which almost seemed like it could have been a legitimate visual chat platform if they didn't charge extra for creating "party rooms".

    Anyway, it's a pretty nifty formula of rewarding people with bitmap "prizes" at *just* the right random intervals to keep them going, triggering the OCD collection/hoarding reflex, along with some requisite peer pressure from comparing their exp points and performance with that of their friends. Could do wonders to educational software if they could work that formula in just right...

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire