The Numbers Get Bigger Game – a guest post by Chris Wong Sick Hong

I have a story in the recently published Steampunk: The Other Worlds and as part of being an Author in the Internet Era, it’s time to slap a new coat of paint on the sales wagon, travel the countryside and shill, shill, shill.

However, I’m not too fond of consumerism to begin with, so if you’re looking for colored glass bottles filled with smoky elixirs (all reasonably priced, of course) I’m afraid you’ll leave disappointed.

Instead, I’ve found myself drawn, almost compulsively, to a silly Flash idle game recently: AdVenture Capitalist. Like most idle games, you don’t actually do much, except click for resources, then use those resources to upgrade your clicks, which then gain resources faster. At some point you earn enough to purchase automatic resource gathering, and the game plays itself.

After you’ve accumulated a suitable amount of riches, you click to start over, but with bonuses.

I call it the “Numbers Get Bigger Game,” and while I don’t enjoy it per se, there’s something hypnotic about seeing dollar amounts ascend into strange and lofty realms. Novemtillion, quindecillion, quattorvigintillion, tretrigintillion. Battle cries of the very, very big.

But if I don’t enjoy it, why do I keep playing? Because the numbers get bigger.

Motion without progress, increase without effort. Unaccomplished accolades. More, more, more.

It’s not all that different from professional writing today.

“If you want to be a writer, then write. Thousands of words a day. If you need motivation, use a word count tracker, and the numbers get bigger.”

“To develop an online audience, make sure you post at least once a week. It would be best to do so at the same time of day so your audience can develop a habit of checking your site. Then check hits, trackbacks, link swaps, pings, search result standings; refine your approach to draw traffic; and the numbers get bigger.

“Get as many stories out there as possible. Someone who becomes a fan will look through your back catalog and, if you’re going the traditional route, more submissions means a better chance for success. You’re playing the percentages after all, and the numbers get bigger.

“The world is so noisy, and people’s attentions are so fragmented these days, that you need to be even louder. Articles, blog posts, social media, conventions, sales…yell until hoarse then yell some more: And the numbers get bigger!

Yet at the heart of these piles of words-upon-words is a sneaking secret. Not everything I come up with is worth saying. I am not as interesting as I can make myself appear. Those bottles of colored glass catch the light, yes, but when opened all that’s inside is air.

There’s still a place for silence, focus, contemplation, depth. I haven’t met many people who buy (and read) books because of the flashing lights and CGI explosions, and it’s not as if reaching one googolplexian sales triggers a literary apotheosis after which I shall beam benevolently down from the heavens evermore.

If you like steampunk, check out the anthology. If not, perhaps we shall meet someday and speak of other things.

*hops in wagon and rolls on*

Chris Wong Sick Hong