Cookie Clicker

It begins by clicking a cookie. Every time you click the cookie, you receive one cookie to spend on items or upgrades. The items award a variable amount of cookies per second (cps), with multiple or more expensive items producing a higher cps. Upgrades add a multiplier to your current cps rate. In very little time, gamers will autogenerate 50 million cps, with new items reaching costs of nearly 1 trillion cookies. That’s it. Cookie Clicker has no story, characters, final level, big boss, nor any tangible goal. Cookie Clicker strips away everything but the game mechanics and reward system—both of which are present in games from Farmville to World of Warcraft—and still manages to illicit a Pavlovian response from players. The driving forces behind Cookie Clicker and many other games—high scores, elite achievements, epic loot—need only an outlet and instant gratification. And what better form of instant gratification than a cookie? In its simplicity, Cookie Clicker embodies the mechanics and parodies the motivations that video games have relied upon for ages, and though we can see the strings manipulating our mouse, it’s hard to pass up a cookie.