Gamer's Notebook

Virtual treats that steal your soul (and valuable work time)

By Chris O'Neal 10/31/2013


Working, who needs it? Especially on All Hallow’s Eve. You should be out collecting candy or having kids collect candy for you. If you are stuck at work, however, there are plenty of ways to waste away the day until the sun goes down and your Miley Cyrus “Wrecking Ball” costume flies out of the closet.


In the world of baking simulating entertainment outlets, only two stand out: Easy Bake Oven and Cookie Clicker If you haven’t heard of the latter, you’re missing out on the single most addicting yet pointless gaming experience of your workplace distractions.


A single cookie sits on the left side of your browser. Click it and receive one cookie, which can be used as currency. Continually click it and watch the numbers grow, one cookie at a time. Use cookie currency to purchase things like extra pointers to aid in clicking and even an entire fleet of grandmothers to bake cookies as you click, kind of like going home for Christmas.


That is, until, by upgrading the nanas and meemaws they become extra-dimensional beings capable of baking cookies en masse, 24/7.


Continue clicking and eventually you’ll unlock farms to grow cookies, factories to produce them by the truckload and mines to send poor cookie-slaves for chocolate chips or other sinister ingredients. An example of a faux headline in block letters above the hard-working grandmothers: “390 workers die in cookie mine collapse.”


Further still down the clicking line, baking becomes an otherworldly horror as Lovecraftian devices begin to assist in the process. Portals open up worm holes to other dimensions, time machines replace cookies before they are eaten into your current inventory, and anti-matter devices crush the very fabric of the universe into cookies.


You are a brilliant, mad scientist and your canvas is the cookie sheet.


That’s it. Cookies continue to rack up until you won’t even have to click any longer. Cookies per second (CpS) grow from one to five to several billion. By the end of my day-long binge, I was up to 20 million CpS, generating enough currency for six antimatter condensers, 19 time machines and 115 supremely warped grandmothers uttering ominous phrases such as, “You could have stopped this.”


Is there an end? Was there a beginning? The answer is both yes and no. The beginning is the very first click. The end is when you have fallen out of your chair in a heap, your finger misaligned by a serious bout of carpal tunnel and your boss wondering where his or her investment has gone.


If you’d like to have more of a character relationship with your workday browser-based simulation, look no further than Candy Box, the game that is as sweet as it is fun to play.


Like Cookie Clicker, time is what dictates what you can do and when you can do it. The first thing you’ll notice is a glut of candy on the screen. ASCII candy, that is, designed to look maybe somewhat like candy using only the characters and letters from the keyboard. Think :-D but a little more complex.


You’ll be asked to eat the candy, and so it begins. Half an hour later (this is the kind of game that is OK to minimize, accomplish something and then return to), you’ll find that you can buy a sword, and so the quest begins.


Think classic role-playing games for the first computers — no graphics, just text — and you’ll have an idea. Eventually, you’ll encounter frogmen, fight dastardly enemies and become the greatest wizard in all the lands. By collecting and eating candy, of course.


Candy Box 2 was released last week and improves on the original, but the graphics remain the same. That means more exploring in two dimensions for you, young office worker!


If you don’t have any plans tonight, why not stay in and bake cookies or explore an ASCII wonderland? Kids might get actual, physical treats on the streets but you’ll be stickin’ it to the cookie man at the click of a button.


Cookie Clicker is free to play and can be found at http://orteil.dashnet.org/cookieclicker/.

Candy Box 2
can be found at www.candybox2.net.

Chris O’Neal has more than likely developed e-diabetes. Follow him on Twitter @agentoneal.

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