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If only zapping real spam were so rewarding..., October 7, 2021
It is the year 2000, and you are a mailbox plugin whose purpose is to eradicate annoying and malicious emails.
Whether an email is annoying or malicious isn't as clear-cut as you might hope. Sure, the unsolicited advertisements and bulk-mail phishing schemes seem obvious enough. What about newsletters your user might have deliberately signed up for, though? What about chain letters or fundraising scams forwarded by your user's less considerate contacts? Dozens of such notorious categories of junk messages await your evaluation.
This would be a fine diversion by itself. Here's your queue of email to review: pick one and read it. Consider the color, context, and comedy provided by your internal monologue. Make your decision. Zap, or Approve? Your choice made, it's on to the next email. The routine is no less enjoyable for its simplicity.
Beyond the routine, though, a narrative emerges. Your protagonist, "Zap", may just be simple mailbox plug-in, but it has personality, opinions, and agency. It has colleagues: even friends. These characters and concepts grow in tandem with the importance of the messages you're reviewing. As the situation develops, actual puzzles appear. (You may brute-force these at your discretion.)
I found myself entertained. Zapping spam was engaging, while the puzzles rewarded attention and intuition. The story took unexpected turns. I worried that the long and sprawling narrative might work against the simple joy of spam elimination, but my fears proved unfounded. Despite playing for minutes shy of two hours, You are SpamZapper 3.1 never wore out its welcome. I recommend this without reservations.