Cookie Clicker, Cryptomining, and You -

Cookie Clicker, Cryptomining, and You

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In this week’s video essay we consider the allure of “getting something for nothing,” by analyzing the popular “idle game” (particularly Cookie Clicker) and crytocurrencies/cryptomining. Regardless of your thoughts on the legitimacy of bitcoin as a currency now and in the future, there is pretty much no denying that it guzzles a lot of electricity to transfer and mine, a problem that is likely to grow exponentially.


Some citations:

0:00 – Introduction
3:21 – Part One: “Get Your Money for Nothing”
9:29 – Part Two: Mining for Cash

Additional footage from: Snoman Gaming, Linus Tech Tips, various game trailers, IGN, Pexelate, The Life of a Miner
Music from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, Earthbound, Super Mario 64, Undertale

#CookieClicker #bitcoin #videoessay


  1. The connection between these two is interesting but I have to disagree with the assessment that idle games are unfun. I don't think there is anything about the idle game structure that is inherently unfun or necessarily exploitative. They're often mobile games and come with all the common problems of those (microtransactions etc.) and they often are just numbers going up, but there's also some good idle games that show how they can emotionally connect with people. The best two examples for this that I know of are Universal Paperclips, which is good at evoking horror or existenten dread, and Guitar Girl, which is a cute and light hearted game about a girl trying to become famous playing guitar with a lot of story elements. The big problem is I think that idle games lend themselves to being shallow because of the base level of dopamine people get from "number go up", but I don't think that is all they can be, just the lowest denominator

  2. I do want to make a quick comment to say: I'm sorry you've never found an idle/incremental game fun or engaging. No game genre is for everyone. It does pain me just a bit to hear such flat dismissal of mechanical or emotional investment in an entire genre. While I'll spare you my own recommendations, I'll just say that if you ever return to idle games then I wish you better luck in finding one that…. "clicks" for you.

  3. Great work man, still hooked on your content 😀

  4. Controversial take indeed, clicker games are amazingly fun.. :c

  5. Idle games in general makes me feel empty. I would click at some that have interesting theme just to pass time, and it does it job there, just like scrolling social media for some others do. But say… if I spend so much time in it (or mmo/ multiplayer games), by the time I no longer liking it I usually feel empty and like I wasted my time. There are exceptions of course… Cookie clicker is one for its surprises, but numero uno is the supposedly original idle game Candy Box. The one I am playing is Candy Box 2 and there is not much idling and there are adventures as if you playing an rpg.

  6. I played Idle games once as a young internet goer back in the day, and I've since stopped bit I recently picked up just one idle game. ALTER EGO is an idle game that explores philosophical questions and ideas, and has a genuine story, peppered with personality tests and recommendations of books to read.

  7. I love how you compared idle games to Marxist theory and to art, though honestly you definitely could have gotten to some way more interesting philosophical/political conclusion rather than just talk about bitcoin mining, since it's not very original or helpful or even surprising to critique cryptocurrencies, as everyone hates them. I love video essays that use things like idle games to discuss complex subjects, and you could have definitely developed the discussion about labor rather than just using it to show why bitcoin is bad

  8. Im in web 3 playing cookie clicker. Cookies go brrrr… 💸🔥💸🔥 $ckie

  9. I've been addicted to cookie clicker before, and I had to litterally cheat all the achievements and unlocks and an absurd number of cookies to force myself to realize the game was pretty much empty and had no end, still going on after all that. These games are terrifying for me, though I also have ADHD so that doesn't help.

    Despite that I still generally like cookie clicker as it's poking fun at it's concept in a way that's endearing and doesn't feel cynical and it's also free and doesn't try to get money out of you (there is a donation page but it's not very pushed)

    On the other hand I absolutely DESPISE a game like adventure capitalist. Fuck that game so much. It takes the aesthetic of capitalism satire and plays it perfectly straight while selling microtransaction in it's dopamine factory. It might not even be the worst idle game but it's absolutely one of the most disgusting in how cynical it is.

  10. grouping cookie clicker with other idle games is unfair, for one, during the mid to lategame you need to be active and not just wait for things to go in the background to get a good amount of progress. it also is

  11. "Yo man Cookie Clicker litearlly murdered my family" You seriouslly made me play Cookie Clicker again in 2021… great video Essay as always though 👍🏻

  12. I'm convinced that the only reason. Mario party exists, is to break controllers so that Nintendo can sell more.

  13. If you are upset with idle games being boring and uninteresting or genuinely not engaging with no loss, I'd try factorio, it is a idle game while it doesn't look like it at first. It is about launching a rocket ship and how fast you can do it , while avoiding being eaten by the planets natives ,eventually being automated by robots. Id recommend it if you want a game that demands your attention and creativity. If you are bored of the vanilla of it you can also mod it with a account on the website

  14. Great video. I've been playing cookie clicker for several years now, and while I wouldn't necessarily call it "fun", a lot of joy has come from it. Additionally, orteil added a few minigames that I find to bring it closer to the concept of fun. I'm a completionist as well, so getting all of the achievements unlocked.
    Interesting to also compare idle games with investment in a relatively low risk ETF though… I also like to watch those numbers go up.

  15. what do you call idle games where the number that goes up is an economy and you have to be careful not to buy the thing that puts you in the negative.

  16. Crypto is not bad for the environment pure propaganda. And if you want to talk about energy usage how about you actually make a comparison to something it's much more efficient than any other current system. And the vast majority is already renewable energy because it just makes economic sense. You don't say it take X energy therefore bad that's just stupid.

  17. Props for convincing me of the connection, as at first I was skeptical of how they could be similar besides at a surface-level view.

    Watching this video reminded me of the enjoyment I got from games such as Toss the Turtle, where you mostly just repeat an action or small gameplay loop, with each attempt allowing you to get better results by buying upgrades, making you feel as if you're personally progressing despite that element of the game being no different than an idle game (a genre I had no real information about before this video, I thought it was literally just a game that counted up as you did X action, with 0 other mechanics or systems, so thanks for the explanation!)

    On another note, this thirst for progressions really brings to mind things like power scaling and transformations in shonen anime and probably other fantasy stories focused on fighting/physical prowess, where the common trap is for them to fall into the habit of simply showing characters exponentially becoming more absurdly powerful or competent. There IS some primal allure to simply seeing number go up, I personally visit the Dragon Ball wiki once in a while out of sheer morbid curiosity for whether they came up with a new form for Goku that surpasses the last, despite my lack of investment in the franchise otherwise.

    Both of these cases run into the issue that, at a certain point, further progression becomes impossible or incomprehensible. I can toss my titular turtle all the way into space if I progress enough, but the moment it goes off the screen, there's no further tangible progress going on. And though personally I don't know the story of Dragon Ball currently, other things I enjoy can get to points where, say, the heroes now fight to save the multiverse, no longer the universe, or a planet, or a country, or a town. And beyond that? I can't really understand what would come next, and if there's nothing else hooking me to it, I won't be there to see what does. Numerically this also manifests itself as numbers ceasing to mean anything to our eyes or brains after a trillion or a few zeroes more. Unless of course arrow notation is used but that'd be PRETTY NICHE.

    Hope the comment wasn't too long for whatever it offers, and thanks for the video! Have a great day!

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