We often joke that Zynga-style social games involve clicking virtual cows and spamming friends’ Facebook walls. A new Facebook game, Tip The Cows, uses just these elements as a prototype for a future transmedia game experience.
In CowClicker, Ian Bogost’s Facebook game hilariously satirizing Facebook games, players are asked to click a virtual cow, earn clicks by clicking, or paying premium currency, and then invite their friends to do the same. Players can also share their progress on their Facebook walls, or see their friends’ progress that way. The joke’s on Zynga-style Facebook games, where the vast majority of interactions are not what most of us would consider gameplay. But it’s playable, too, so it causes players to think about player motivations in click-wait-click social games, as they click the cows. (CowClicker has recently taken Farmville satire to a new level, and you now click the empty space where your cow used to be.)
Tip The Cows is less a satire than a proof-of-concept, but it distills the social side of Facebook sharing and leaderboard competition to its most basic elements. The game is part of a capstone creative project by students studying Animation Graphic Game Programming at New Hampshire Technical Institute. Kyle Lambert is the main developer in Flash and Facebook, and Dan Chamberlain is the project backend and server programmer.
Gameplay involves earning points by clicking the cows that appear on your virtual field. Players can then share their scores on their Facebook wall. The game takes a maximum of thirty seconds, but can be played indefinitely, without waiting or paying in.Find and click the golden cow, and you can send special wall spam, er, a special Tip The Cows message to the students’ advisor, Greg Walek, a professor of game animation and design at NHTI.
Disclosure: Greg is my friend from college and while I’m quite interested in his social game experiment, I would also enjoy watching his Facebook wall blow up with game spam. Yeah, yeah, working prototype for a larger experience, blah, blah, student creativity, yeah, the real highlight of this game is spamming my friends.
The developers say that Tip The Cows is an early proof-of-concept in what will become a larger transmedia game experience, creating games based around the idea that “what you do in one game should and will affect another. For example, we are planning to have items only in one game, but usable in another level. “ Walek says.
I hope these Golden Cows I keep tipping onto Greg’s wall will come in handy later on.