Video Game Theory And Cows: A Match Made In Facebook Heaven

So what happens when a video game theory professor from Georgia Tech decides to put his theories to the public test? Simple: CowClicker. But don't be too quick to indict Ian Bogost for adding to the fodder that is Facebook gaming – there are actually many reasons for creating this latest craze (insert Chick-Fil-A style joke here). For some percentage of Facebook's half-a-billion users, the prospect of playing the latest goofy game will be motivation enough. But for those thinking more deeply about video game theory, there's an entire back-story you'll want to consume.

But first of all, get your cow clicking on by signing up for CowClicker on Facebook. Once you've settled into the every-six-hours clicking to accumulate points (and realize it's just not fast enough), you can purchase 'mooney' at the rate of 10 for $.50 all the way up to 1,000 for $10. And therein lies the the genius of Facebook games: micro transactions. Given the percentage swing among the Top 25 users on the game's Rankings page, it seems there are more like a couple hundred players versus a couple hundred thousand players, but you have to think some percentage have plunked down the cash.

And now for the deep theory... During the first half of 2010, Ian was involved in both the Game Developers Conference in SanFran and a video game theory seminar at New York University. Coming out of those two events, it occurred to him that real-life interactions would be the best barometer to test his theories. You can read the entire story on why Ian believes some social games are dangerous, and also read lots more on his background. Suffice to say guys like Ian think about gaming on a whole different level than fanboys like me.

I'd recommend consuming Ian's blog in-depth and following him on Twitter if you're interested in video game theory. If your only goal is to get your Mom onto the next Facebook gaming craze, then go ahead and recommend CowClicker! Welcome to the intersection of satire and PayPal – proceed with caution...


+1 # Wayt 2010-08-18 15:59
Coincidentally, I just met last week with Adam Rice and Daniel Upton from the social analytics startup looxii that we funded last year in Shotput Ventures. I asked Adam and Daniel what the local tech community could do to find and encourage more talent like them to launch capital-light Internet startups. They graduated from Ian Bogost's program at GT, and they suggested we tap into more of his students. Ian: what should we do to seed-fund some more people like Adam and Daniel?
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0 # Ian Bogost 2010-08-19 03:33
Wayt, I'm glad you brought this up. We hold bi-annual events in our program meant to make connections like this, and also have an internship requirement in our MS.

What we should do is have lunch in Tech Square and talk about it.
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