The folks at Decision Problem have created a little trifle of a game called “Paperclips“. It’s free, there’s nothing to download, and you play it in your browser.
It’s got a fairly simple concept: you create paperclips. You start with little more than 1,000 inches of wire. Press the button and create a paperclip. You can sell this paperclip for somewhere around 25 cents (though you can raise or lower that price) and purchase more wire when you have the dough to do that. There’s a bit of an economy… The price for more wire fluctuates between $13 and $25 at first so you’ll want to make sure that you don’t run out of wire because you want to make paperclips. Though when you’ve made your first five bucks, you can buy your first “AutoClipper”. It makes one paperclip per second and you don’t have to press the button at all. Make $100, and you can upgrade your marketing (and increase demand for paperclips). Make more AutoClippers. Sell more paperclips. Buy more wire. Make more paperclips. Improve your computational resources. Improve your AutoClipper efficiency. Improve the amount of wire you get when you purchase another spool. Develop creativity. Set up systems to buy wire automatically when you run out. Play the stock market. Set up energy farms. Leave the planet. Terraform other worlds. Make paperclips.
This is a game that you can walk away from and leave open while you, for example, go to sleep at night or leave for your job at work. You can come back and see how many more paperclips you’ve made and how many efficiency advancements have been discovered while you were away. Apply your upgrades and then go to the grocery store.
Come back and realize that the game has changed and you’re no longer playing the game that you left 2 or 4 or 8 hours ago.
It took me about 24 hours (including going to sleep, going to work, going out to dinner with mom, doing chores around the house, doing things in other windows) to “beat” the game (well, one of the ways to beat it, I guess). It was also one of the most surprisingly satisfying games I’ve played in, like, *YEARS*.
You should check it out. Make some paperclips.
So… what are you playing?
(Picture is HG Wells playing a war game from Illustrated London News (25 January 1913))