I eventually stopped playing Cursors some fifteen screens in when, as shown in the image above, I found myself trapped in a small cubbyhole in the top left of the screen. It’s a co-operative browser game where you trace your mouse cursor around mazes, but where advancing through each screen doesn’t merely mean working together. It means some people getting left behind.
The reason I’m trapped is because my way is blocked by coloured obstacles which can only be removed by other players – each represented by their own moving mouse cursor – remaining within certain similarly coloured zones. In this instance, I triggered the removal of those obstacles so that half-a-dozen other mouse users could advance onwards, but that meant that I got left behind.
In this particular level, someone would eventually come through behind me and trigger the obstacles without meaning to, but not every level is so kind. Some require people to actively and knowingly sacrifice themselves; one player or five tracing a route towards the corners of a screen to tap on buttons in order that a crowd of others can make their way forward. There’s arguably a good reason to let others go ahead, since if no one advances with you, you’ll only find yourself stuck and alone further down the path anyway. But other times there’s genuinely no personal benefit. You’ll be nice to other people who’ll have no opportunity to re-pay the favour, and you’ll simply have to hope that future groups of players come through and decide to be as nice as they don’t know you were.
Is this fun? Not particularly, but I do find it interesting. I find it interesting to watch crowd behaviour, to find out how quickly people help each other or don’t, and to read the frustrated messages people write using the shift-click ability to draw on the screen. Mostly I find it interesting to see how often I’m willing to be kind, and how often I’ll stubbornly wait by a blocked entrance until someone else does the good deed for me.
If you’ve five or ten minutes to spare, give it a go and see how generous you really are.