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Author Topic: The Life-Changing $20 Rightward-Facing Cow  (Read 1776 times)
app103
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« on: October 05, 2011, 12:05:42 PM »

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The past year has been one of the strangest ever in the life of game designer, lecturer and author Ian Bogost. It started with the launch of the most successful game he's ever developed, and ended with him bringing it to a strange, cathartic end.

That game was Facebook title Cow Clicker, a now-infamous satire against social games. For its creator, though, it's been more complicated than that. As his friend, I confess to being a little relieved it's over with.

This is the story of a person whose joke project became more successful than the one on which he lavished love and intellect, the climate that caused that to happen and how ultimately he decided to learn from it instead of becoming upset.

Ian recently sent me an IM to share some correspondence with one of his users: "Hi Ian," writes one. "I've noticed that the Cowpocalypse has happened and users have to pay to see their cow. Do you have a goal or timeframe of when this will be set back to normal?"

"There's no way to pay to see your cow," replied the designer. "The cows got raptured."

Like any dissatisfied customer, the user said he'll no longer play, as Cow Clicker is "not a very fun game" any longer. Answers Bogost: "It wasn't very fun before smiley"

Cow Clicker was never supposed to be fun. It was supposed to be silly, insultingly simple, a vacuous waste of time, and a manipulative joke at the expense of its players-–in other words, everything Bogost thought that Facebook games like the Zynga-made hit FarmVille are. In Cow Clicker, players get a cow, they click it, and then they must either pay to click it again or wait six hours; an embarrassing, joyless labor that to him represented the quintessential aspects of the games that were flourishing all over the social network.


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40hz
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« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2011, 12:25:01 PM »

Love it! Absolutely love it!!  Grin

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Don't you see? It's turtles all the way down!
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« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2011, 09:37:49 PM »

I'm impressed. I love that guy's ideas about games. Brilliance. Sheer brilliance.
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Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker
Fred Nerd
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« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2011, 03:45:18 AM »

I once had 52 pickup on my Win 3.11 computer
(for those of you who haven't 'played' 52 pickup, you throw all 52 cards all over the place and the victim who agreed to a game has to pick them up)

Sometimes the ridiculous is best.
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JavaJones
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« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2011, 02:09:16 AM »

Fascinating! I'm quite interested in the philosophy behind, yet totally repulsed by the reality of addictive, mindless gaming a la Facebook and Zynga. I'm curious to see what Bogost makes of all this after some more thought.

- Oshyan
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app103
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« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2011, 10:35:13 PM »

Fascinating! I'm quite interested in the philosophy behind, yet totally repulsed by the reality of addictive, mindless gaming a la Facebook and Zynga. I'm curious to see what Bogost makes of all this after some more thought.

- Oshyan

Yes, this is also a topic of interest of mine and I did some "research" into facebook games last year, the most popular ones, who they appeal to, what personality traits they were exploiting, what it would take to make a successful game, etc.

I had hoped to possibly develop my own facebook game, but in the end I abandoned the idea after learning that you can't be successful unless you are going to become a slimeball that exploits players for profit. With the sheer number of players you will end up with even for a moderately popular game, regardless of how you decide to handle paying for the overhead that keeps the game running, if you don't become a scammer or peddler of malware you will never make enough money to keep it running.

I got to know a number of developers of facebook games...the small ones that most people never heard of. I watched them struggle with paying the bills that kept their games going. I watched them try all kinds of things to cut costs without cutting quality. I watched a bunch of them sell their games and walk away...many more just pull the plug and give up. I watched great games rapidly devolve into a complete mess after being sold to people that just wanted quick easy money. I watched players protest and complain, and even had my blog hit with comments by disgruntled players after one developer gave up and sold his game, one I had previously written a game guide for in its very early days. I even had one player leave a bad review of my blog on Entrecard because she thought she was supposed to leave a review of the game.

I gave up on any ideas of facebook game development after all of this. I am not cut out for it.
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