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Playing As a Clock…Really?

I used to think that I have played it all. Any game genre that could be thrown my direction, I’ve played it. After playing video games for well over 30 years, I have seen the best and the worst of what the industry has to offer. RPG, FPS, RTS, 4X; I have seen them all, and I beat them all. Oh yes, I am a seasoned gamer, so I didn’t think twice when a little title called Clock Simulator for the Nintendo Switch came across my desk. It’s a simulator, I’ve played those. I couldn’t help but think that the game would be a simple puzzle game with a twist, like a million others. In retrospect, I was wrong. I was very wrong.

After playing the title for well over 10 hours, I can tell you that Clock Simulator is unlike anything that I ever played, and probably ever will play. This game, developed by Kool2Play, is so simple to start that practically anyone can play it. However, this game presents a challenge that normal video games cannot touch because normal games do not require the amount of focus that Clock Simulator does from its players. You see, the game is not about beating the clock, because you are the clock.

Image result for Clock Simulator Nintendo Switch trailer
The simplicity of this game is part of its genius.

Fighting the Urge to Quit

It’s those four little words that provide the depth and challenge that this game is known for. You are the clock. When you start the game for the first time, those words are the first things that you see on the screen. Right after that, a simple clock appears. The game prompts you to hit the A button once every second. It tells you if you are hitting it too soon or too late. It goes on and on, over and over and over and over again.

At this point, I began to hate the game. “Is this really it? Is this is all I do throughout the whole game?” Though that initial encounter with the clock is the tutorial, I soon found that the minigames were not much different. Every game revolved around tapping the buttons every second without moving too slowly or quickly. At first, I found myself getting antsy and a little anxious. The constant ticking of the clock was forcing me to focus on every individual stroke. Tick, tock, tick, tock. Every second was just as important as the next, and focusing on each one caused something to happen that I rarely feel when playing a game.

I began to relax.

The Hidden Genius of the Game

It was at that point when I discovered the true nature of this game. You see, the game itself is not Clock Simulator, it is you, the player. It was me; I was the game. By hearing and feeling the beat of each individual second, I began to search myself for the strength to go on. The challenge was not to get it right, but rather fight through the emotional urge to speed the game up. This feeling is something everyone has when playing this game, and it is also an indication that we live in a very fast society.

Think about the games that you have played in the last week. I would imagine that many of them allowed you to play at your own pace. My friends, you, along with every other gamer, have been programmed to play games how you want to. Well, Clock Simulator says, “you’re going to play the game my way because I am time, and I am in control.” Perhaps this is the reason why so many people hate this game. Players have to relinquish control to the game itself, and they do not want to do that. I, for one, think this is self-reflective, and that is something most games do not provide to their players.

Image result for Clock Simulator Nintendo Switch trailer
Some of the minigames require you to think on your toes second by second.

More Than Just a Game

Going over the online reviews for Clock Simulator, I can’t help but think that many players are missing the point of this title. It is not a game as much as it is a tool. Clock Simulator allows for its players to battle themselves and find ultimate relaxation through rhythmic focus. Psychologists call this hypnosis. Playing Clock Simulator for prolonged periods of time can bring a sense of calm over the player. However, the experience is not sustainable, and it will get old, even for players who understand the aim. I could only handle the game for an hour at a time. However, I left those “sessions” feeling very placid and almost sedated. No, I wasn’t sleepy or bored, just calm. You can not put a price tag on that feeling these days.

I must stress that this “game” is not for everyone. The Nintendo Switch version adds variety to the gameplay through the use of various buttons, but the core gameplay remains unaltered. There are multiplayer minigames, but those appear to negate the core experience of the game. I recommend trying this title for yourself, even if it is on mobile or PC. If you do try Clock Simulator, remember this one detail; you are the clock, and time waits for no one.