Curiosity killed Schrödinger’s cat: Peter Molyneux’s new game

Peter Molyneux and Geoff Keighley on GGTV, showing off the concept for Curiosity. Apparently the cube’s secret may be toxic waste, no doubt gleaned from Vent chats. Photo Courtesy of Google.

By Alexander Leach

Apparently, this game will change our lives.

Peter Molyneux, creator of the lackluster Fable series and the enjoyable Black and White games, has announced his first game on his own with startup company 22 Cans.

He’s no stranger to promising the moon will pop out of every game he produces. Fable never lived up to the hype created for it, and Black and White, while a good game, wasn’t nearly what seemed to be promised. In fact, I found the Fable games downright boring in terms of mechanics, and never could quite play the games through. There’s even a fake Twitter account for Peter, making fun of his artistic promises (at least I think it’s fake).

As for Curiosity, everything I’ve seen of this game, and it’s premise, makes me think one thing.

Is this a joke?

The game is to be released for PC as well as smartphones, where players spend time tapping away at a giant, black cube, slowly whittling it away towards its center. Apparently, this will take some time, but the real core of the game, quite literally, is that one player will get rewarded with a ‘life-changing’ secret, that only that player will see (apparently it’s not a dead cat, according to Molyneux, though I wonder if the game’s premise is as problematic as the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics).

So it’s a competitive….clicking game?

Think about it. This game clearly is intended to have a long time frame – millions of people chipping will inevitably wear it down incredibly fast, so the cube will be incredibly large. The game also won’t require any particular skill, other than investment of time, which means it probably won’t be designed as something that can be finished in a day. Thirdly, the game is a one-shot deal; if the ‘secret’ is so important and only one person gets to see it, it will end when one determined person gets to the core.

And we’re expected to pay for this?

Millions of people, all clicking on a giant box. How likely do you think that you’ll be the one who gets it? If you stop even to use the bathroom, who knows, you might miss it and someone in Germany breaks the last square. The only factor other than time you have is, apparently money; in an obvious Minecraft reference, you can apparently purchase pickaxes (50 cents) or diamond pickaxes (50,000 dollars…my god) to chip faster.

Microtransactions only make this worse. I’m not a fan of them, in general, because they tend to monetize things that would normally be included as part of a much larger package, and often aren’t nearly worth what they cost. It’s like charging for sugar packets for your coffee at a restaurant.

Also, the focus on competing for a single ending is preposterous. Gaming isn’t about the ending – unlike in a movie, where you’re passively watching and therefore gain more satisfaction from the conclusion of a story, a game is based on actively overcoming obstacles and navigating a world. Clicking blocks to break them away does not sound particularly rewarding – there’s no sense of accomplishment, such as arranging puzzle pieces or overcoming encounters in an action game. It sounds boring, and repetitive, and without the prize at the end, it’s nothing special next to any iPhone game.

And the prize means nothing. There are very few games out there that limit accomplishment to one player, and one time. Even online games, where there’s a lot of actual work to get a chance at the best rewards, at least has some chance that you will get something. Raids can be redone later, and a lot of content can be done by multiple people, so many can benefit. There’s an actual chance. With Curiosity, the probability of any one person being able to complete the game successfully is so low that the boring-sounding gameplay has no benefit. It’s less of a video game, and more of a lottery – one where you have to actively work to even have a chance of getting your money’s worth.

I am fully aware that I’m probably furthering the hype of this ‘game’ by blogging about it. However, the purpose of this blog is to allow me to criticize and comment on gaming-related topics – and this ‘game’ is newsworthy, in the sheer silliness and perplexing nature of its proposal.

The only thing I can think of is that Curiosity is a veiled critique or parody of the online game culture, with players grinding away in order to reach better and better tools to continue grinding. Or that it’s a criticism of gold farming and using real money to get an edge in a game, or the video game publishers’ real-world currency item marketplaces where they try to do the same thing. I already think these things are a terrible practice and that it’s a blatant attempt to exploit some gamers’ missing the point of a ‘game’. But since we’ll presumably pay money for this, it’s probably just another grandiose idea that will fall flat and exploit gamer pocketbooks.

Unless it’s all a joke. Which means whoops, my face is red.

Leave a comment


  1. I just realized something: 60 Million cubes right? 1 million people can play at a time. If every single person does 60 clicks, the game is over. Just one minute.


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