Episode 456: Fighter Pilot, Space Commander, Mass- Murdering Plumber

On the Overthinking It Podcast we ask who has designed our wasted time, and how and why they’ve done it.

Matthew Belinkie, Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Matthew Wrather examine the phonological and prosodic implications of the title Everyone Poops, share the mobile games they’ve been playing on their phones, and discuss how competing interests have designed our wasted time. And remember:

Your bathroom time is not uniquely crappy
Everyone poops and pooping makes them happy

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5 Comments on “Episode 456: Fighter Pilot, Space Commander, Mass- Murdering Plumber”

  1. Tulse #

    To “well actually” Pete a bit, non-violent games have always sold extremely well. Myst was one of the best-selling games of all time, and the various iterations of the “Sim” franchise (from SimCity to The Sims) did gangbuster business. Ditto for FarmVille (as Pete mentioned), Candy Crush, and going way back, Tetris.

    One recent change that may have shifted things a bit is that MMOs, which tend to have prominent combat elements, have gone mobile and casual, and are now reaching a far broader demographic. The non-violent games tend to be solitary, while the battle games are now multiplayer, even on phones. There are very few non-violent social games that I can think of, with perhaps the exception of something like FarmVille.


    • Peter Fenzel OTI Staff #

      My only defense here is that by the time Myst came out, I’d already been playing video games for 6 years, that I hated Myst as a kid, and that every time I played the first SimCity I would enter the cheat code a bunch of times, build a bunch of nuclear power plants, and attack it all with Godzilla over and over.

      So maybe my experience is unfair to extrapolate to everyone else ;-)


  2. Tulse #

    Regarding the book title discussed in the opening, I definitely think that Everybody Poops would be better, but that’s largely because I hear that being plaintively wailed by Michael Stipe.


  3. Lee Davis #

    Eggs Inc is an example of a relatively new class of games called incremental games. As it turns out, the subreddit devoted to incremental games gave eggs Inc has several of its awards for 2016. The incremental game is distinguished by a main Loop that involves a repetitive action that and eventually be replaced either by a continuous action or an automatic substitute. Eggs actually does both of these things with the holes to hatch upgrade and the internal hatcheries upgrade. They are, as a class, somewhat popular, primarily because they are a straight-up Skinner box you hit the button the number gets bigger and then eventually the number gets bigger all by itself and doesn’t that make some dopamine. The classic examples in this genre are probably Matter of Scale, Cookie Clicker, and CivClicker, which can be found either on their own websites or on game aggregators like notdoppler and Kongregate. This is to be distinguished from the unfolding game, which looks very similar, but has a much more complex structure to it.

    The main problem that incremental games have, is that eventually the conscious mind realizes the essential futility of the main game Loop. Once this happens, the game stops being “fun”, and the player basically has to move on to another game. Thus, a good game in the genre is one that hides the Simplicity of the loop, and mechanics like prestige do that very well. Again, eggs stands out in the category by having two such mechanics, making the game appear to be much deeper than it actually is.

    Unfolding games, like Crank, a dark room, or CandyBox, address this problem by adding new mechanic at various points. In the three cases I mentioned, the game begins with no instruction manual, and a single button to click. By the end, and there is an end, a story has been told, some narrative has reached its conclusion, and the player is left with a sense of having accomplished something rather than having given up, even if the player did accidentally destroy the galaxy along the way.


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