Him: Hey Jess, what have you been up to?
Me: So there’s this game… you own a paper clip factory…
It all started with reading a tweet that a friend @chrisajello posted. I’m not sure if anything I’ve ever learned from Twitter is anything more than a time suck, but…
— Frank Lantz (@flantz) October 9, 2017
Simple enough, I was intrigued since Chris was interested and we listen to a lot of the same podcasts. The game is designed by Frank Lantz, director of the New York University Game Center. It’s a clicker-based game rooted in the world of resource management, which appeals to me on so many levels. I was trying to explain this game to a friend this past weekend when he interrupted:
Him: So Jess, you spend all week at work, optimizing, planning, and managing resources and scheduling, and then in all your spare time you play a game about the same thing?
Me: Yes. I like what I like. At least I know I’m in the correct job function.
Cut to Saturday. It’s day 4 of the eat, sleep, drink, wake up in the middle of the night to click projects on the paperclips game. Every time I was convinced I was at the end of this saga, to be surprised by another twist and turn that lead to more adventures with this paperclip economy. I hate and love you so much, you addictive game. Over the course of the past week, I also realized why I don’t let myself get sucked into video games anymore. The last game that really had me was Tsum Tsums and before that Clash of Clans. For those games, I ended up retreating into a cave where I spent hundreds of dollars on digital upgrades before getting bored of it all.
Luckily there is no monetary cheat for paperclips, which actually kept me from getting bored. I literally woke up, played paperclips, went to work, came home, ignored all others texts and attempts to reach me, to play more paperclips for the better span of a week. During that time I’d anxiously run back to my computer hoping that I had hit the end and could go back to my normal life. I prayed there was really an ending I could reach, and while the paperclips continued accruing in the background, I used a hashtag search on Twitter, to confirm that there was indeed an ending. Knowing there was a finite amount of time needed to complete this game I obsessively waited and clicked.
Sunday morning. After about a day of not having any “Projects” to wait for, I was getting anxious when finally… something new.
The victory was close, but which decision to choose?
I picked the right one, finished up the remaining tasks, closed my browser and went back to sleep.
Universal Paperclips is awesome. If you have a spare week and OCD, check it out.