Addictive Clicker Games
April 20, 2021
Incremental games, also known as clicker games or idle games, use psychology to hook their players and wring every bit of cash out of them. There are numerous different characteristics and tactics clicker games use to get into the mind of a user. Many clicker games will use flashy colors and satisfying sound effects to appeal to a broad audience looking for any way to keep their brains busy and receive doses of dopamine. When asked about their thoughts about clicker games, junior Jaiden Trewick answered, “The good thing about clicker games is that they’re easy and fast to play. I don’t need to take 5 minutes out of my day to do something on it.” Cookie Clicker is an iconic name when it comes to incremental games. The sight of watching a number go up when doing something small and insignificant has proven satisfying to a large demographic. It’s the game’s simple and satisfying design with minimal input from the player that makes tapping so satisfying and the game’s graphic design that makes looking at the game rewarding to the user.
The first incremental game was Progress Quest. Released in 2002, the game took very little input from the player and then played itself. The player would choose the character’s race, gender, character class and then roll for the character’s statistics. Despite having all of this and more, it wouldn’t be enough to get the popularity later games would. Word of mouth and ads are often how incremental games spread and gain popularity. Oftentimes, a game will be a trend that dies out as fast as it grew. Most are not original ideas. Most of them don’t come up with original concepts. Cookie Clicker wasn’t the first of its kind to be released into the market. Cookie Clicker was a parody of Candy Box, another incremental game. Cookie Clicker’s tactics would later be used in other incremental games on the app store. Games like Adventure Capitalist would use the common theme of gaining riches and growing an empire. “Adventure Capitalist is super fun and addicting,” quoted sophomore Cooper Graves. Among other currencies, the most popular currency in clicker games would be American dollars.
Incremental games will almost always have upgrades and perks to help the player, so they earn more of the game’s currency faster. Popular incremental games all have one perk that is kept consistent across all of them: automation. They use the game currency to buy the computer to tap for them, so they can lay the phone down and let the currency stack up to rinse and repeat. The tapping playstyle of these simple incremental games is often mindless and leads to easy dopamine for the brain, leading to them becoming addicting apps. These games will be opened whenever the player has a minute of spare time. Sometimes these apps will offer free perks, as long as you watch a 30-second advertisement. This is how incremental games make a lot of money: offering a free perk at the cost of 30 seconds. 30 seconds doesn’t seem like much at first but as players are watching more of them by the day, they end up taking more of their time than most would like to hear. “Clicker games can be fun but I try to avoid them because of how brain-numbing they are,” stated sophomore Graham Hudson. Incremental games have an interesting and simple way of growing a quick player base.
Clicker games will be a staple of mobile games forever. Their accessibility and addictiveness have proven to make a lot of money. All in all, the incremental game genre shows few signs of fading away.