Cows, clicks, ciphers, and satire

Author(s): Tyler, Tom


The social network game FARMVILLE, which allows players to grow crops, raise animals, and produce a variety of goods, proved enormously successful within a year of its launch in 2009, attracting 110 million Facebook users. However, the game has been criticised for its mindless mechanics, which require little more than repeated clicking on its colourful icons. By way of parody, Ian Bogost’s COW CLICKER permits its players to simply click on a picture of a cow once every six hours. In this essay I extend Bogost’s critique and suggest that COW CLICKER highlights not just the soulless inanity of FARMVILLE gameplay but also the paucity of that game’s portrayal of the painful reality of a dairy cow’s punishing daily existence and untimely end.

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Preferred Citation
Tyler, Tom: Cows, clicks, ciphers, and satire. In: NECSUS. European Journal of Media Studies, Jg. 4 (2015), Nr. 1, S. 199-208. DOI:
 author = {Tyler, Tom},
 title = {Cows, clicks, ciphers, and satire},
 year = 2015,
 doi = "\url{}",
 volume = 4,
 address = {Amsterdam},
 journal = {NECSUS. European Journal of Media Studies},
 number = 1,
 pages = {199--208},
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