Interpassivity and the Joy of Delegated Play in Idle Games

Sonia Fizek


This paper examines the youngest video games genre, the so called idle (incremental) game, also referred to as the passive, self-playing or clicker game, which seems to challenge the current understanding of digital games as systems, based on a human-machine interaction where it is the human who actively engages with the system through meaningful choices. Idle games, on the other hand, tend to play themselves, making the player’s participation optional or, in some cases, entirely redundant. Interactivity and agency – qualities extensively theorised with reference to digital games – are questioned in the context of idling. In this paper the author will investigate the self-contradictory genre through the lens of interpassivity, a concept developed by Robert Pfaller and Slavoj Žižek to describe the aesthetics of delegated enjoyment. This contribution aims at introducing interpassivity to a wider Game Studies community, and offers an alternative perspective to reflect upon digital games in general and self-playing games in particular.


idle games, self-playing games, interpassivity, delegated play, interactivity, agency

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Published by the Digital Games Research Association.