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One popular game format that is prevalent on smartphones is that of the clicker game, also known as an incremental game, idle game, or clicking game. As the name implies, the main action in a clicker game is clicking on something in order to advance. Passively structured and typically centered on a grinding, role-playing game-type system, clicker games can span everything from the aforementioned RPGs to building games to puzzlers and sims.
Since clicking is the player’s primary method of interaction with the game, the act of clicking itself is really all that is needed from a control perspective and thus the gamer tends to focus on other things in the game such as what to level, obtain, achieve, etc. Another interesting aspect of clicker games or incremental titles is that occasionally even the act of clicking itself is unnecessary and the game sort of progresses on its own like a train on rails.
That isn’t to say these games are shallow though they can be but their alternative name, idle game, comes from this passive approach to the core experience. Then again, a modern feature in many role-playing games is the “autoplay” function, making clicker games an extension of that concept.
Though primarily found on the smartphone these days, clicker games are also a popular subgenre on the PC. Described by some as non-games, clicker games in many ways eliminate the core elements of what someone expects from a video game and the linear approach makes progress both rewarding and frustrating as the player is on a somewhat endless path to upgrades.
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