Cow Clicker

What is Cow Clicker?

Cow Clicker is a Facebook game about Facebook games by the author and game designer Ian Bogost. It was first released in July 2010 as both satire and playable theory of social games circa that era.

You get a cow. You can click on it. In six hours, you can click it again. Clicking earns you clicks. You can buy custom premium cows and timer overrides through micropayments. Cow Clicker is Facebook games distilled to their essence.

Wait, what? That's ridiculous.

Oh, come on. Back in 2010 it was a little startling, maybe. Now computers click on cookies absent human players, and people endlessly swipe dollar bills on their iPhones. In fact, so many years hence, Cow Clicker probably seems so normal as to be ordinary, even boring by today's standards.

Of course people would click a cow every six hours. Why wouldn't they? All we do anymore is click on things.

Didn't I read about this in Wired?

Yes, in the January 2012 issue, Wired published a feature on Cow Clicker written by Jason Tanz, The Curse of Cow Clicker: How a Cheeky Satire Became a Videogame Hit". The original online version of the article featured a playable cow-clicking game, but it didn't survive a redesign. Just like the cows themselves, which were raptured during the Cowpocalypse in September, 2011.

Can I still play Cow Clicker?

Cow Clicker is still playable on Facebook.

You can also still download the iOS edition, Cow Clicker Moobile, and the kid-friendly, no calf left behind mobile version, My First Cow Clicker.

One thing: all the cows are gone, having been raptured. Not to worry, though. You can still click on the spot where a cow used to be.

Wait, do people really do that? Click on the spot where a cow used to be?


How stupid. I'd never click on the spot where I used to click a cow.

Sure, of course. I'm sure you wouldn't sponsor a non-existent potato salad either.

Where can I learn more about Cow Clicker?

You might want to read the original essay explaining Cow Clicker, written upon its release. You can also watch a talk Cow Clicker creator Ian Bogost gave at the Game Developers Conference in Austin, in fall 2010, Making a Mockery: Ruminations on Cow Clicker. The game enthusiast magazine Edge published a story on the game by David Thomas in spring 2011, Poking at Cow Clicker. In October 2011, Leigh Alexander wrote about Cow Clicker and Bogost's other 2010 game, the award-winning Atari game poem chapbook A Slow Year in The Life-Changing $20 Rightward-Facing Cow. In November of that year, NPR's On The Media ran a story on the game, If You Can't Ruin It, Destroy It. You might also enjoy Shit Crayons, Bogost's "rant" at the 2011 Game Developers Conference. And in July 2014, on Cow Clicker's 4th anniversary, Brian Crecente wrote How cows predicted the seedy underbelly of social gaming. There's more, I'm sure you can find it.

One last question: When I went to click the cow at the top of this page (duh), I noticed a big "2" appear in its place. Does that mean you're making a sequel?! It must mean that, right?

I suppose it could. I mean, I can see how you'd reach that conclusion.

But, it also might just be a big "2" with an udder, signifying nothing.