Growing up, I never had guppies or goldfish. Weirdly, I never even bothered to ask my parents for permission even though, in retrospect, they probably would've said yes. (I once had a pet turtle.) But I did get super into freshwater aquariums on a whim as an adult. What a fascinating few years that was.
I'm sure I'll want to return to the hobby one day, but for now, I'm obsessed with Orb Farm – a virtual aquarium food-chain simulator that lets players fill a glass orb with sand, water, and yes, life.
Water fleas are cute in a totally-horrifying-up-close sorta way.
As an almighty pixel-laying overseer, you can make your own little slow-moving ecosystem with algae, daphnia, bacteria, grass, and fish. The sun will rise and fall each day, setting the miniature world in motion. Every element plays a part. It's beautiful to watch the cycle unfold, especially in fast motion.
What's the deal with this browser game? If you've ever accidentally watched way too much of one of those "A Year Ago I Put Saltwater in a Jar, This Happened" videos or "planted just to plant," you'll understand the appeal. You can try to create a balanced ecosystem if you care to, or aquascape with stone and wood, but there aren't any real stakes. Try not to spring a leak with the Clear button, though.
orb game mood board pic.twitter.com/yz6doxXPx4— max (@maxbittker) September 13, 2019
I feel like everyone needs a mood board. Mine may or may not also have a guy with a big ol' jar.
Orb Farm is playable straight from your desktop browser or phone, for free, and I'm enamored. Bittker doesn't "plan to keep updating it," but he's thinking about making an ant farm next. Please do!