(Don’t) Play This

I’ve been talking about how I’m working on convincing my inner voices that playing video games can have its own merits beyond wasting time. And while that’s true, some games really are just wastes of time. One of those is Clicker Heroes.

And I can’t stop playing.

The concept is simple. You click on the monster to do damage. Monsters give you money. Money lets you buy heroes. Heroes boost your click damage, as well as doing a certain amount of passive damage per second (DPS). The more damage you do, the tougher monsters you can defeat, which gets you more money, which lets you buy more heroes, which lets you do more damage… Ad infinitum.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the sort of game you sit down at for a good six-hour session on the weekend. But it is the type of game that you can have open in the background, while surfing the Internet or doing other things. Eventually it gets to a point where it basically plays itself: you get enough DPS that monsters basically disappear as soon as they spawn, and all you have to do is check in occasionally to spend the gold you’ve accumulated and restart the forward progression.

And something about it never ceases to draw me back in. I’ll find myself staying up a few minutes later, just to see what level my current build will top out at. I had to stop checking it at work, because it became too distracting. It’s a free flash game, and I’ve somehow been playing it for three months.

The developers have added variations on your basic idle game format. Once you stop making considerable progress, you can do a “soft reset,” where everything resets back to square one (first level, no heroes, etc.), but with each reset you receive a certain number of “hero souls,” a sort of premium currency which you can either use to purchase special heroes (which don’t reset, and can give you bonuses like gold multipliers, extending the boss timer, etc.) or which add a certain amount of DPS when left unspent.

So the whole point of this game is to get the numbers to go higher for their own sake. It’s pretty much a distillation of every abhorrent, shallow, Skinner box game mechanic out there. If I truly valued your company, I’d tell you not to play it. But since I’m a bad person, I’ll just mention that hey, it’s a free game that can pass the time, and can even play itself to a certain extent.