Check out this fascinating article by Ian Bogost, the inventor of Cow Clicker, a popular facebook game. Cow Clicker was originally intended as a satire, but it came to reveal the disturbing strength of human obsession.
Cow Clicker: The Making of Obsession
America is a rush of compulsion. We check facebook and are instantly rewarded with likes and pokes and comments and pictures. We check email and are instantly rewarded with new content from a friend or American Eagle. The more time we spend, the more we're rewarded. We know when we're away from our social medias that things are happening, new bundles of information have been released, and we're missing it.
Lately I've been obsessed with Bakery Story, a game where a certain amount of clicks whips up chocolate chip cookies, eggnog, and pumpkin pie and displays them prettily on mocha countertops (only 1,000 coin each, I'm a cheapskate). Click, click, come back in 1 hour and your chocolate cake will be ready! Little people with hearts blooming from their shiny skulls wander around, and golden coins with happy plus marks bounce from their tables. You know this game. It's the same game as hundreds of others, requiring no skill and offering great satisfaction, or at least great obsession.
I love how Ian Bogost says it, that these games are "mere actuations of operations on expired timers." Social medias are societies of communication instead of community. Social games are games you click instead of play. And the timer is always ticking.
America is so so busy. We're stressed out. We're constantly rushing. But is this busyness an illusion? Is there so much compulsion burrowing in the back of our skulls that even as we chew asparagus or clink wine glasses at a Christmas party we just can't relax? We try to use facebook and texting and Bakery Story as a break from our hectic schedules, but are they what makes our schedules feel so hectic?
After I read Bogost's article, I deleted Bakery Story.