Please leave me a tip, I'm so tired...
We often play games to escape the every day grind of work. In games, you can be a space marine, a pirate, a giant monster intent on the destruction of mankind: whatever. Occasionally, though, games offer us the chance to be something far more mundane. In fact, some of the best games ever made put a very generous, very positive spin on decidedly crap jobs.
Im here to pay tribute to 10 of these games. These select few make even the most mundane, unappealing jobs feel great--and for that, I congratulate them. One caveat--I haven't included actual games that simulate boring jobs, like Rail Simulator or Farm Simulator... because the title says 'Great games'.
The game: In Papers, Please you have immense power over peoples lives. You choose whether or not to let them across the border, you take bribes, you carry out petty vengeance on those you dont like the look of. Sure, the setting is grim, and youre battling to keep your family alive, but theres never a dull day at the Arstotzka border. GLORY TO ARSTOTZKA!
The reality: Being a border control guard is dull. Look into the eyes of that guy who is checking all 250 passports of a plane-load of tired, uncooperative passengers who just arrived at London Heathrow. No bribes for him. No promise of sexy time with the local ladies. Just vigilant grind and looking at travel documents for 8 hours per day. If he's lucky, he'll get to strap on some latex gloves for an invasive, full-cavity search.
The game: Oh what wacky fun were having, stirring a virtual pot with the Wiimote. Hurray! Now were using the Wiimote to chop an on-screen carrot. All the on-screen characters are cute and enthusiastic, and as the bright colours mingle, our wonderful creations fully form into mouth-watering dishes. Ooh, they look good enough to eat. Being a chef is so much fun. Whats that? You want me to cook dinner? No way--Im playing games!
The reality: Chefs work HARD. While you often see celebrity cooks prancing around on TV, arranging pea-shoots on top of expensive fish, the vast majority of chefs are trapped in sweaty kitchens for hours, often at extremely unsociable times of day. In many modern kitchens, chefs look after a select number of dishes, so theyre often making the same thing over and over again. That is, once theyve chopped cabbage for years as apprentices.
Sim City (series)
The game: Wow--I can create an entire city? I can plan it out, manage everything from finances, right down to traffic-light sequences? Im in! Now that it works, the modern Sim City is heaps of fun, and the always-present threat of natural disasters creates a decent change of pace from every day city management. Its one of the most entertaining simulations available.
The reality: Working for the council is widely regarded as a dull job. Much of the time, city-planning and administration is all about minimising traffic disruption while Tesco builds yet another awful store right in the middle of your most historic streets. Its taking abuse from irate commuters when theyre stuck in traffic on your roads, and figuring out how to break the news to residents when you want to build a power station right behind their back-garden fences. No fun.
The game: Football Manager is all about legend building. Theres no sweeter feeling than taking control of a struggling, minor-league football team and--over the course of many seasons--raising them to the European elite. You micro-manage every aspect of the team (often your local club), you get to know the players, you share their glories and defeats. And when you lift that European trophy, after years of ups and downs, you feel like a proud father; a king; a legend.
The reality: Managing a modern football team is stressful like you wouldnt believe. If lower-league teams dont perform, the fans stop showing up to watch. Ticket sales slump, and the club goes into crippling debt. Do the players get blamed? Sometimes, but its often the manager who absorbs the brunt of the criticism, shortly before his inevitable sacking. In the top leagues, managers have an even shorter life-span: some only last several weeks in charge. Club owners expect instant results, and if they dont see them its the manager that gets the blame.
The game: Everyone knows Paperboy, right? Hes the carefree, young, whipper-snapper who pedals effortlessly up streets, dodging dogs, hitting ramps, and lobbing the daily news-rags at windows and doors. All he really has to worry about is a bruised knee and a potentially scarring mauling by an aggressive dog. Dodging these dangers, though, is half the fun.
The reality: Delivering newspapers is mundane. Its often done by teenagers looking to supplement pocket-money, and they do it by getting up at ridiculous-oclock in the morning (whatever the weather), grabbing a heavy bag of papers, and hauling them around the same old streets every day. Lets face it: the pay is borderline illegal, which is why its a teenager job, and the odds of getting mauled by an aggressive dog are about the same as in the game
The game: Crazy Taxi is one of the best Sega games ever made. Thats a hard fact. Driving all manner of zany customers around the streets of pseudo-San Francisco, listening to their mad requests and smashing through crates as you scrape down short-cut alleys man, Im getting excited just thinking about playing it. Whats more, all the money you earn is yours, and the cab you drive never needs repairs or even resprays; its golden yellow paint constantly gleaming in the endless Californian sunshine.
The reality: Being a taxi driver can be rewarding. People are interesting, and will often tell amazing life-stories to their temporary chauffeurs--theres something therapeutic about chatting to a complete stranger. However, for every good passenger, theres a drunk asshole who may or may not vomit half-digested kebab over your back seat. And theres the endless boredom of driving from the train station into town, through chocking traffic, again and again and again and again.
The game: Managing your Theme Park in-game is amazing. You can build your own rollercoasters, populate the place with cute mascots, and even use the coolest rides yourself. You can employ dirty tactics, like upping the salt content of fries, and upping the price of soft drinks. You can hire and fire as you see fit, and borrow cash instantly if you need to expand.
The reality: At one end of the real theme park scale, youre the guy mopping up vomit outside the Mega-Super-Twistanator, and emptying bins covered by hornets. Higher up the food-chain, youre selling overpriced food to families who seem to do little but quarrel. Even when you get to the very top chances are youll never get the funding, or permission from health and safety, to ever build your own rollercoaster. And do you get to ride your own amusements? Not while there are all these spreadsheets to look at.
The game: Beer for EVERYONE! Thats the only real rule in Tapper. The quicker you can pour those pints and feed them to your constantly thirsty crowd, the better. Its all jolly fun, and no-one ever asks for a gin and diet tonic or (heaven forbid) a foamy latte. Youre a man, pulling manly pints to satisfy your disgustingly manly punters. And they love you for it. In a manly way.
The reality: Being a barman is a little like being a chef. Hard work, poor pay, and the knowledge that youre going home at 3am stinking of beer. In the US, you get tips for serving drinks (in the classy establishments). In the UK, theres no such fancy tradition--all youre doing is pulling pints, and sighing when the 15th customer of the evening insists that you top up the head by an extra millimetre.
18 Wheeler Pro Trucker
The game: Driving games are usually brilliant, but when youre hooning around the land in a massive truck, smuggling goods and taking on other wacky missions, its heaps of fun. Plus, your truck is nippy, and surprisingly manoeuvrable so you can swing the back-end around with total abandon and dodge cars. Honk the horn, wear a massive beard, be a real man!
The reality: Ok, opinion is divided on truck driving. Many truck drivers love being out on the open road, seeing the world, wearing massive, manly beards. Others, though, find it a bit dull. Again, its all about getting stuck in traffic, waiting around for hours while your trailer gets loaded up, and politely declining the working girls that climb--unbidden--into your cabs (I know a former truck driver, and his assures me this happens with alarming regularity).
The game: Its all fun and japes from development legend Jeff Minter, as you mow your own lawn while dodging all kinds of crazy obstacles. Next-doors dog runs into your garden, and your neighbour--who wants to borrow your lawnmower for his own garden--constantly chases you. Look, its a bit like Pac-Man with annoying neighbours and flower-beds instead of pills and ghosts.
The reality: Come on--mowing the lawn is boring as hell. At best, youve got a small, square garden to manage. At worst, you have acres to chop through with a petty lawnmower that needs emptying every 5 meters. On top of that, your dog is getting pretty incontinent and keeps leaving hidden parcels on the grass that you either remove ahead of time, or simply mulch up with the green stuff
There you have them, folks. The great games that are kind of like doing shitty jobs. Ive taken a rather exaggerated view of some of the jobs here, so please dont be offended if your work is listed in this feature. Its all done for laughs, and besides: there are crappy aspects of almost every career out there
If youve got any brain-thinkings, leave them below. If not, carry on being passively entertained by more GamesRadar features, like Solid Snake Doing Mundane Jobs (opens in new tab), and the Video Game Jobs That Are Now Utterly Redundant (opens in new tab).