A Deeper Look Into the Idle Gaming Scene

Oct 24, 2017 | 1 Votes by jose 10 rate Your vote
Idle games are such a big thing these days that one can’t help wondering why so many people are drawn into playing them. Let’s try to take a deeper look into the reasons why idle games are so popular and addictive to play. WWGDB - A Deeper Look Into the Idle Gaming Scene


With the different variations of idle or clicker games coming out today, giving an exact definition of what an idle game is suppose to be might result in multiple definitions at best. There are some features however that almost all idle games share in common aside from the word idle.

Idle games in general are games that have minimum or basic interactivity. They are progression based where the player levels up through in-game earnings while watching the numbers go up. Idle games are the kind of games that practically play themselves. All the player has to do is to spend a little time setting things up within the gane, let the game run it's course with little to no interaction and watch the games progress.

The earliest known idle game was called Progress Quest (released around 2002). However, it didn’t really catch on at the time and it took ten years more for idle games to make its mark. At thet time, games had to be installed and loaded into the PC but with tofay’s advent of web based gaming, the games can now be accessed far more easily than before.

The Behavioral Psychology behind clicker or idle games goes back to a contraption built by Burrhus Frederic Skinner called a Skinner Box for his graduate studies. Skinner aimed to prove that people and other beings could be conditioned to act in a way under the right circumstances and a conducive environment.

Skinner Box



The experiment worked in a way that if the light went on or the speaker sounded and Mr. Rat pushed the lever, food would be dispensed. If no lights, no sounds, then no food even if Rat kept pushing the lever. Likewise, Red and Green lights where used in combination with the speaker, an electric floor and sounds to train or condition Mr. Rat to push the lever and get some chow. Green Light and sound plus pushing the lever meant food while Red light instead of Green meant electric shock. Eventually, Speedy Gonzales and kin got the idea.

In essence, that's what games and idle games in particular have been doing to us humans, make us look like Lab Rats. Idle games create an environment where in the player can be trained in. These games make use of triggers in the human psyche or stimuli and reward them accoedingly (hey Mr. Rat, yanky yank that lever...here comes yummy yummy hmmm...)

These triggers or stimuli can be anything from happy memories and hunger for delicious cookies like in Cookie Clicker to the more shady Sakura Clicker that capitalizes on Man's basic animalistic desires (eh...why are you grinning?). This actually traps the player in the game. Idle games though compared to other games have a continual progression that is not available in other games. In an RPG game, your avatar can get killed while trying to accomplish the objective and you will naturally get frustrated by this. What happens when you get killed over and over again that you want to slam the keyboard and give up. In idle games (even the RPG variety) your games moves on no matter what and it's easy to re-start. Boom! the numbers keep going up again without you sweat-grinding for it while screaming Patience...Patience!

However, Idle games are kind of deceptive when it comes to player population. Hoards of gamers start the game but that's it. Most just start the game then check it every now and then to see their in-game profits. Once it's set up, they don't really need to continually play it anymore (not like mainline FPS, RTS or RPG) that cannot go on without constant interaction. Most gamers will simply let the game play itself and finally forget about it.

Idle games provide a momentary distraction to multitasking mavens, those people who have several apps running while working and focusing on one. Checking something else every now and then gives them the break they need from monotony and can actually boost productivity. A writer can have an idle game running at the back while writing an article with his/her favorite word-processor and check his/her idle game's progress every now and then with a little click here and there. That would be a better alternative than peeping at You Tube and forgetting his/her article altogether.

Idle games address the need not to waste time (though they may really look like time wasters). There is the need to be always doing something while doing something else like texting while walking, driving and having an accident and getting killed.

So, whatever the reason that prompts gamers whether core or casual types to start playing, become addicted and finally letting the game run itself, idle games are here to stay in one form or another and until humanity stops reacting to stimuli and have any form of desire whatsoever, keep clicking that mouse and tapping that screen and get those numbers up up up,,,


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