On May 9, 2001, on a website called Homokaasu, a massively multiplayer collaborative Flash game called "The Kill Everyone Project" began. The aim of this game was to virtually kill all 6 billion people on Earth, by clicking a button - one click representing one kill.
By February 2002, very little progress had been made; kills had not significantly exceeded the pre-programmed birth rate of 3 new people per second and there was no real end in sight. But then Greg Dean, creator of popular web comic Real Life Comics, listed TKEP as his "Cool Link Of The Week" and suddenly 20,000 people descended on the project - myself among them. TKEP took off in popularity and was soon making steady progress.
Around this time, the top player was Hanover Fist, with about 2.5MD (megadeths) or thereabouts, and we all thought he was insane. I was user #5154 and registered around 770,000 kills under the name "SamSim" and peaked at rank 242 before drifting away from regular play due to pressures of academia and acute boredom. In the meantime, new features and bonuses were added to the TKEP applet and the live chatroom which always ran alongside it, and TKEP soldiered on bravely. I promised to return one day and finish off a round million before the project ended, and only popped in occasionally to put in a few thousand kills and elicit wows from relative newcomers.
In April 2007 it came to my attention that TKEP was nearly completed. China (the most populous country; countries were killed in increasing order of population) was down to Henan (its most populous province). I was up to around 910,000 kills by now so I returned and put in the final 90,000 in a single day, reaching my promised million on April 9, 2007.
Predictions varied but the final day was eventually fixed as April 26, 2007 - day 2179. I was among about a hundred people who tried to log in on the final evening. The lag was abominable. You were lucky to get a kill button, let alone chat. It was bad. It slowed down the killing and dragged out the ending for hours. Nobody, as far as I know, saw the final moment happen with their own eyes. Records of the event are extremely sketchy. And when we did get to the end, the point which we had been working towards for nearly SIX YEARS, what happened? What was our most anticipated prize going to be?
"Bonus Country". An extra country of 131,000,000 people to kill.
That was it. "Gasmaster", the owner of the website, could not come up with anything better than that. It was not until some days later that the "Hooray! Project completed!" message appeared on the TKEP front page. For all intents and purposes, it appeared that he had hurriedly thrown something up at the last minute to keep us occupied. Having had six years to prepare.
Calling it anticlimactic is like calling Graham's Number "fairly large".
I finished joint 541st with seven other people, though since the killing continues the ranks are still moving a little. The top guy, Tyrael, had nearly 600,000,000 kills. He cheated, I'm told, and presumably still is cheating. Several other people are ranked in the hundreds of millions.
The level of awfulness that must be necessary in the lives of such people, to have made them hide away from reality and spend so many hours on so inane a task, horrifies and sickens me.
Still, mission accomplished!