In what has to be one of the most hilarious Facebook applications yet, software developer Ian Bogost has created a masterpiece with the Facebook game Cow Clicker. The object of the game is simply to “click your cow.” That’s it. Clicking your cow will earn you “mooooney” that can be used to either purchase more clicks or unlock premium cows. I’ve pretty much summarized the entire game and it took less than a paragraph.
What’s awesome about this? It’s absurd and enlightening all at once! If you’ve followed digital culture for the past you have undoubtedly observed the rise of casual gaming. Beginning primarily with the Nintendo Wii in 2006, video game and media publishers began to successfully reach an audience of people previously ignored in the gaming industry: folks who enjoy quick games with little to no obligation. People that never were drawn to video games were becoming addicts just like this guy.
This trend in casual gaming has allowed for the massive success of companies like Zynga and games like Mafia Wars and FarmVille. Unlike popular console games, like Halo, Modern Warfare, and others, these games are focused on instant reward by participating in somewhat mundane activities. These activities include planting digital crops, making lunch, or robbing a supermarket, with the single click of a button. In order to unlock game activities or features, users are given a choice between waiting to accumulate points, or spend real money to get there quicker. The massive financial success of companies like Zynga has proven that instantaneous satisfaction is a strong motivator for the average person. Casual gaming as a whole is expected to reach over $1 Billion by the year 2013, and is currently in the range of $300 – 400 Million dollars.
Cow Clicker is indeed a game about video games. The author, who blogs about the game here, points out his reasons for creating it while discussing his opinions of the casual gaming trend. I’m just glad that I finally have a Facebook game that I’ve found entertaining.