Cow Clicker

As I mentioned in my presentation last week, the facebook game, “Cow Clicker,” was developed by Ian Bogost as commentary on facebook games.  You are allowed to click on your cow every six hours, and each time you click, you earn more clicks.  You can also encourage your friends to play, and then you can click their cows, too.  You can read more about Bogost’s thoughts on the game here.  He talks about four dangerous factors associated with social games: enframing, the idea that people are just there to accomplish tasks for one another; compulsion, the irresistible urge to go back and click the cow again; optionalism, which I take to mean the idea that nothing bad would happen if you didn’t click the cow; and destroyed time.  Destroyed time is a big one for me.  Why do people allow themselves to be sucked in?  Not just to these social games, like Farmville and Mafia Wars, but to Pinterest, or even facebook itself?  What are we getting from these experiences?  Some of these are easier to justify than others, but the Cow Clicker game is so purposefully ridiculous that it draws attention to the fact that although some of the other time sucks in which we engage may be wizzier, they are equally stupid.  I think it’s valuable to be mindful of how we’re spending our time and ask ourselves whether it’s spent well.  The digital nature of these things makes them portable.  We never just stare out the window at the doctor’s office, we play these games, update our facebook statuses, and check Pinterest for recipes.  It’s not inherently bad, but it’s also not inherently valuable.  I love the way Cow Clicker brings this issue out in such an amusing way.  Bravo to Ian Bogost, and I hope that the revolution he speaks to in his article comes about soon.