I'm an English writer and game reviewer with my head in the clouds, and my feet in my mouth. Check out Unleash The Gamer for more of my stuff!
This article was written by Charlie, a guest writer from Unleash The Gamer. Check em out!
If you were to ask me what I was, I would say a writer. If you were to ask my boss what I was, he would say a contributor. If you were to ask my parents what I was, they would say a disappointment, but that’s unrelated. The point is, I’m lucky enough to have a good job that I love doing, and that makes me happy. But not everyone is so fortunate. To make ends meet some of us are forced to be janitors, housekeepers, or even I.T. consultants — otherwise known as “rock bottom.”
And yet some of these tedious and boring sounding jobs can often make great material for video games, and there are more examples of this than I think a lot of people realize. I mean, look at farming — it just sucks. You work long days, watering the same ol’ crops, feeding the same ol’ animals, and picking up their disgusting crap over and over again, until you die of old age or, more likely, boredom. Plus, you’re usually cut off from civilization, the winters are horrible, and if you don’t have a spouse, well, let’s just say Farmers Only ain’t what it used to be.
And yet, agricultural simulation games are some of the most fun and addicting games out there! Harvest Moon, Stardew Valley, My Time At Portia, at their core all of these games are about looking after your farm, but they’re still amazing games. Some might say they’re mostly fun because of the life you get to live outside of the farm, but even the simple act of harvesting a crop you’ve been waiting on for 10 days can feel more satisfying than milking a horse!
…you can milk horses, right?
And it’s not just farming games either. Another job that sucks is cleaning. Whether it’s someone else’s stuff or your own, nobody likes cleaning up, especially not me! Seriously, people don’t come into my bedroom without hazmat gear. It’s slow, monotonous, sometimes disgusting, and definitely not fun, despite what Mary Poppins says — the liar!
And yet games like Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor and Viscera Cleanup Detail— where most of what you do is pick up, burn, and occasionally eat trash — are very good. Mopping up blood, guts and fecal matter may sound like an unfulfilling, and more importantly, vomit inducing job, but these games still find a way to suck players in. Again, some people claim that it’s the content surrounding the core gameplay that makes these types of games interesting, but you can’t disregard that rewarding feeling you get in your stomach when you get rid of something that wasn’t meant to be there. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s why pigeon shooting is so popular.
And of course, we can’t forget one of the dullest activities of them all: driving. Ok, to be fair, driving can be awesome. But being forced to drive for hours on end, with very few stops along the way, and a pee bottle that’s close to overflowing? That, my friends, is hell. That’s exactly why we invented things like “Eye Spy” or “20 Questions,” to distract ourselves from the monotony. The truth is, driving for long periods of time, with no music, no distractions, and no one to talk too is boring as it gets.
SO WHY ARE TRUCK SIMULATORS SO DAMN ENGAGING!? It’s the same activity of driving across the country with nothing to do, except now you have a time limit, an incredibly slow vehicle, and precious cargo that you don’t want to harm in any way. Sounds like a rollercoaster of excitement to me!
Well, these games may not be very “exciting,” but there’s a reason people love them so much. You get to zone out for a while, listen to your favourite podcast, take in the beautiful sights, and you don’t have to worry about the pissing — unless you’re like, really lazy. Plus, these games are a great opportunity to explore places you’ve never been to, in a photo-realistic world. They may not be for everyone, but there’s no denying that games like American Truck Simulator, and Euro Truck Simulator 2, are absolute hypnotizers for those who can get into them.
So, the real question is, why are all of these games where you simulate boring-sounding jobs, like being a farmer, janitor, or trucker, so amazing? Well, I believe it’s because they can so effectively emulate the one thing basically every human being can appreciate: a job well done. We can joke around all we want, but at the end of the day, the simple pleasure that comes from completing a task laid out for you is something I think we can all understand. We all want to feel that sense of genuine accomplishment, even if it comes from cleaning up someone else’s half-eaten kebab.
So why are these activities fun in a game and boring in real life? To be honest, I think that’s just how our minds work. We moan and procrastinate when doing something that we’ve labeled as “work,” and yet when we do the exact same task because we choose to, we can see the joys surrounding the activity. Really, we’re all just Bart Simpson’s enjoying our “Yard Work Simulators.” (For real though, that game looked fun as hell.) And of course this should go without saying, but y’know…you can turn off a game. Any time you get bored of farming or traffic in Boston, you can always just switch off, and do something more fun.
Can’t do that shit in real life…