Right, clear your diary, cancel all your meetings, sack off going out tonight. Because today, my friend, you will be doing nothing but thinking about paperclips.
’Universal Paperclips’ is an utterly addictive new game that is storming the internet: and, like crack, it’s fiendishly easy to get into and very difficult to stop.
You are the proud owner of a paperclip business and, at first, it’s very simple. You buy wire to make the paperclips, you make a few, and then you set the price to sell them.
Before long though, you’re given the chance to buy an AutoClipper, which automates the paperclip-making process - and then the fun begins.
Before you know it, you’re churning out the paperclips, boosting your marketing spend, and all the while tinkering with your price structure to make sure you’re always making the most amount of cash per second.
And from then, suddenly computing power enters the mix, you can generate advertising slogans, and then hypnotise your customers and… well we won’t spoil the game, but suffice to say you can truly take over the world - all starting from one humble paperclip.
You can play the game - and we warn you, cancel those meetings now - by clicking here.
Venturebeat spoke to the man who designed it, Frank Lantz, director of the New York University Game Center, who created it on his own.
“I’ve always been interested in incremental games,” he told GamesBeat. “I played one called Kittens Game that I really loved, and I wanted to make something like that, with lots of complex overlapping systems, only smaller and more focused. Also, I’ve been following the debate about AI safety with a lot of interest, and I thought that this would be a perfect theme for a clicker game. After all, when you play a game like this it gives you direct, first-hand experience of what it’s like to be a disembodied intelligence that is ruthlessly pursuing an arbitrary goal.”
He continued, “For me, I love the way [incremental games] make abstract mathematical relationships feel palpable, concrete. The human brain isn’t really designed to intuitively understand things like exponential growth, but a good clicker game allows you to directly engage with these numerical patterns, to hold them in your hands and feel the weight of them. And of course, a good clicker game puts you directly in touch with the raw, goal-seeking id that is a fundamental part of your psyche, and that’s a scary and sometimes wonderful place to be, at least for a little while.”