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Adam Kaminski | The Cool Column

The art of virtual baking

Published: Thursday, December 5, 2013

Updated: Thursday, December 5, 2013 09:12

With finals around the corner and studying (in my unfortunate case) to start, there’s nothing I would rather do than write a column and bake cookies. Well, correction: there’s nothing I’d rather do than write a column and eat my friends’ cookies. Please don’t judge me. 

Unsurprisingly, all of my friends are too consumed with procrastination-backlash and not-taking-my-whims-seriously syndrome to even consider making my dreams come true. It’s at times like these when I turn to my ultimate companion: the Internet.

Buying food on the Internet scares me, probably just as much as it should scare anyone, but baking cookies on the Internet is a realm with which I’m largely unfamiliar. Again, I’m probably as unfamiliar with it as most people are ... but not my brother.

It was wonderful returning home this Thanksgiving break. I was able to see my parents and siblings, read things other than textbooks, sleep in and eat robust meals past 10 p.m., if I so desired. I so desired. More importantly, however, I was introduced to the newest virtual sensation, an honorary member of the email-YouTube-Facebook lineage: Cookie Clicker.

At first glance, this game is nothing but an utterly useless waste of time. Criterion one — check. It’s totally futile, most likely harmful to one’s living standards, but enjoyable all the same. Oddly enough, it’s about as enjoyable as eating cookies. Criterion two — check.

The game doesn’t have a point — it’s premise is muddled and unsure. The player is ostensibly a cookie entrepreneur who founds a grassroots cookie organization and bakes cookies by clicking a giant cookie to the left of the playing screen. Once he’s accumulated a certain number of cookies by manual clicking, he can spend them on a variety of upgrades. It seems as though baked goods make for brilliantly effective currency.

On an elementary level of upgrade is the grandma, starting price of 15 cookies. With a cookie per second (CPS — yes, it has an abbreviation) output of .5, it’s not the most lucrative purchase. The other upgrades include farm, factory, mine, shipment (spaceship), alchemy lab, portal, time machine and antimatter condenser. You can buy as many of each upgrade as you want, budget allowing, though after each purchase the price increases. How much marijuana did the creators of this game smoke before the game’s inception?

The most professional upgrade is the antimatter condenser with a 999,999 CPS. It “condenses the antimatter in the universe into cookies” and costs 3,999,999,999 cookies to start, says the Cookie Clicker Wiki. That’s right, there’s a Cookie Clicker Wiki. Another advanced upgrade, the time machine, “brings cookies from the past, before they were even eaten.” Genius.

As if things weren’t convoluted enough already, there are a number of upgrades you can purchase for your existing upgrades at the “store.” They augment your CPS, provide labor by kittens and initiate what’s called the “grandma apocalypse.” If you’re horribly confused, welcome to my world. Additionally, there are myriad cheats, statistics and achievements. For a game without an objective, this one’s mighty compelling.

You win the game when you successfully forget all about the piles of work you still need to finish (or start). You lose when you successfully waste all of your time. This is a dangerous game, perfect for finals week, and a perfect substitute for friends’ cookies — sort of in the same way Facebook is a perfect substitute for real friends.

If you’re in need of a new waste of time and enjoy the thought of pointless, unceasing video games, Cookie Clicker is for you! Otherwise, have fun chatting, snooping, stalking and doing whatever else you may claim not to. We all need something to push through these final few weeks. And no worries, it’s a judgment-free time of year.

Adam Kaminski is a freshman who has not yet declared a major. He can be reached at Adam.Kaminski@tufts.edu.

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