12 mundane jobs that should be simulation games

Simulation stimulation

For untold ages, mankind has yearned to conduct trains, drive big rigs across Europe, and build inescapable prisons. Well, okay, some of us have accomplished these feats, but they remain as pipe dreams for most. Do you doubt us? Ask the person nearest you about his or her greatest desire. See, it's train conducting. Everyone loves trains. Or maybe they picked the prison one. Whatever, point is: these are the dreams that drive our souls.

For those of us who lack the skills to attain such dreams, there are simulation games. Through them, you can become a master of agriculture, a builder of cities, and even a legendary surgeon. But these are but a handful of the occupations available within the virtual realm. Video games have unlimited potential to let us fulfill our most heartfelt desires. That's why the following jobs (though seemingly mundane) need to be made into simulation games right away.

Prep Cook

Prep cooks are the backbone of the culinary world. Sure, they may not know how to prepare Bouche la reine but no one can chop up an entire day's worth of lettuce faster. And if you need 24 loaves of bread baked in under an hour, who you gonna' call? That's right, a prep cook. Or maybe a baker. Point being, prep cooks provide the ingredients from which great entrees are cooked. They also have to get up super early in the morning to get all this work done, which is a heroic feat in and of itself.

How it could work as a game: Deep in the heart of Gastrotopia, the Grand Banquet is only one week away - but the royal pantries are all empty! As intrepid young adventurer Gordon Ramsay (no relation) you must battle through the nine realms of Gastrotopia collecting the foodstuffs needed to ensure a successful feast. It's a mix between Dark Souls' combat and the rudimentary tasks of Cooking Mama: you battle a giant lettuce monster and then chop up its corpse to make a tasty salad. Fun!

Pet Groomer

You think being a barber is tough? They only have to deal with one species: humans. That's easy mode. A pet barber needs to be able to cut a dog's hair, a cat's hair, a bird's hair, and a fish's hair - all in the same day! People have all sorts of pets, and those with a lot of disposable income want those pets to look good. And you had better believe the sort of person commissioning this animal makeover isn't going to be happy unless it comes out perfect. Yikes.

How it could work as a game: Pet Groomer Pro uses a highly advanced fur rendering engine, which meticulously generates each individual follicle on the animal's body. Special attention is given to the hair length, density, color, and dozens of other factors to ensure the animal hair is as authentic as possible. This will ensure a realistic response when you take a razor and start shaving away. Just make sure you have a steady hand, because there are no do-overs. At least, not until it grows back.

Elementary School Tutor

With classrooms getting bigger and bigger, it's harder than ever for teachers to give students the sort of personalized instruction they need to succeed. That's where a good tutor can come in handy. Of course, for the tutor this means spending your evenings solving those "Susie is taller than Jack, but shorter than Billy" puzzles, which have been known to cause aneurysms in lab rats. There's also the looming threat of dissatisfied parents, who may take it out on you if their kid's grades drop.

How it could work as a game: They say children are our nation's future. But if those children don't understand basic multiplication, what sort of hellish future will they create? That's where you step in. As a strapping, time-traveling school tutor, you're on a mission to prevent the apocalypse by ensuring these kids know every state capital and can properly spell the word 'calendar'. Compete online against other tutors in parallel dimensions, and see whose kids emerge as the best and brightest. Win back humanity's future, and a free trip to Chuck E. Cheese's.

Dog Walker

Being a professional dog walker is a huge responsibility. You have to care for a massive group of dogs all at once. And dogs are crazy. Sometimes the tiniest, most inconsequential things will send them into a tailspin (get it?). And each dog is crazy in its own unique way. So, as the dog walker, you must both understand and somehow accommodate these insanities for your entire pack. Fail in this task, and you will have unleashed a barking, slobbering hoard on an unsuspecting populace. And you probably won't get paid.

How it could work as a game: Dog Walker Dynasty is for serious, professional gamers only. Only a true gamer will have the FIVE next-gen consoles required to play this truly next-gen dog walking game. In it, you take a group of five dogs out for a walk, with each console controlling one of the dogs. You must then frantically jump between systems in order to keep the dogs in line and stop them from barking at strangers. And chasing squirrels. And eating garbage. And lying down on the ground for some reason. Warning: this is for serious gamers only.


How it could work as a game: Obviously turning around a fat profit is important, so you'd be able to set your own prices depending on animal type and size. And if you're looking for quick ways to combat the rising costs of quality mounts and stuffing materials, you could easily exploit emotional clients by jacking up your fees when they're super attached to the carcass in question.

DMV Clerk

While the Internet age has reduced the frequency of mandatory DMV visits, there's no escaping the occasional drop-in--and no matter how many lines are open, you're guaranteed a five-hour wait in terrible conditions. It's too hot in that poorly ventilated office; the guy next to you is wearing a tight, sweat-stained sweatsuit and smells like burnt hair smothered in sour cream; that kid across the way has been crying for an hour straight. And when the clerks finally call your number, they'll inform you that you need four forms of photo ID (and a birth certificate) before you can finish your business.

How it could work as a game: Playing as the DMV manager, you must balance the happiness of your clerks and the folks they're servicing. The quicker your clerks process their clients' needs, the happier your customers--but this has an adverse affect on the morale of your employees. To keep them happy, you'll have to allow them to mess with the noble citizens. Possible pranks include: skipping ticket numbers, feigning computer illiteracy, and farting while staring a customer in the eyes.

Bridge painter

Without bridges, we wouldn't be able to cross large bodies of water, nor would we have the opening scene from Full House that we all remember so fondly. But if it weren't for bridge painters, we'd be force to traverse garishly gray structures so offensive to the eyes that riots would erupt in the streets. "Paint. That. Bridge!" angry people would demand en masse, destroying local businesses in protest. The bridge builders would look down upon them from the top of their bridges--and they'd whisper, "No."

How it could work as a game: In Bridge Painter 2013: Pro Edition, you'd control an elite squad of experienced paint slingers tasked with coloring the world's greatest bridges. There's just one catch: You only have 24 hours to do so, and failure will result in millions of casualties. You'd have to recruit new painters, level them up via deployment, and avoid getting them killed--permadeath means you'll have to rely on fresh reinforcements to finish the job. Trust us: When newbie painters are thrust 746 feet in the air, the only thing you can count on is them soiling the windshields of the vehicles below.

Administrative assistant

Clickity clack, ring ring ring, "Hello, Mr. Daniel's office." Hear that? That's the sound of an administrative assistant hard at work, taking care of the infinite list of minor tasks that Mr. Daniel can't be bothered to take care of himself. Secretaries play an undeniably important role in the success of upper management staff and public service workers, answering their phones, setting up their meetings, filing their files, and often receiving very little thanks in return.

How it could work as a game: Secretary Simulator would be a game about time management. How well can you juggle answering the phone and talking to an important client while simultaneously responding to an urgent email? There are a million tasks to be done, and you only have time for 10 of them--so choose wisely, because if you don't, your job's on the line.

Toll Booth Operator

If a four-door sedan approaches a $2 toll booth at approximately 15 mph, while a truck in the adjacent lane approaches at 7 mph, how much money does the toll booth make? Answer: $2 per vehicle. Always. When a car rolls up, its driver pays, you lift the gate and let said driver through. Pretty easy, yeah?

How it could work as a game: The thing is, not all drivers come through a toll booth with exact change. Though computers are typically used for calculating the amount of change you'd owe a driver who handed over a $5 bill, they're totally useless when a class four Kaiju emits a powerful EMP blast from 4,000 yards away. Only by harnessing mathematical subtraction skills can you save hundreds of lives, $2 at a time, before a towering Godzilla smashes your traffic lines into powder.

Hospice manager

There are two horrible truths about hospices: They're depressing places to hang out in, and they're steady, reliable business. Death is the only constant in life, and while it may seem awful to work in a place where terminally ill patients go to die, we don't doubt that it's gratifying work for those who can ease the suffering of the doomed. Still, these places have to make money to outlast their clients, which is where you come in.

How it could work as a game: Here's the bizarre thing about running a hospice: The more people that die there, the more money you make. You'd start off small, with a one or two-bedroom unit. But as you accrue more patients and income, you'd be able to expand your workspace, buy more comfortable beds, and pay your staff enough to not want to jump off a bridge after having seen so many people pass away. It's all terribly morbid, to be certain, but hey--there are bills to be paid.

Shelf stocker

The unsung heroes of the grocery shopping experience, shelf stockers are the reason you just happened to pick up that bag of Cool Ranch Doritos while you were heading toward the checkout line. Sure, they might've built a Bud Light pyramid under management orders, but if not for their courage and physical ability, you wouldn't have purchased $30 worth of alcohol when all you were after was some shampoo and Q-tips.

How it could work as a game: Think placing item after item upon a shelf (label facing forward) is unexciting? Think again. You'd have to build a variety of impressive displays, choosing from a well of decorative formations. Clever stacking tactics range from pyramids to the American flag, all of which have a chance to increase your store's total sales. Watch out, though: ruffians will come tearing through, messing up all your hard work--and thanks to our litigious society, you can do naught but watch.


Don't you dare for a second think that cleaning up after other peoples' messes is insulting work. Being a janitor has its perks: You can do your job while listening to your favorite jams, and you rarely have to interact with other human beings. Trust us, if you've ever worked a retail gig, you know how awesome this is.

How it could work as a game: What would it be like to have to clean up the USG Ishimura after Isaac Clarke's Necromorph-laden adventures in space? That's what we'd like to see in a janitor simulation game. You'd roam the halls of a giant ship, cleaning up blood splatters, body parts, and other gruesome human (and alien) remains, having to rinse your mop after a few cleaning swipes to prevent further messes. And don't forget to throw those body parts in the dumpster!

Oh wait, that's actually a real game.

Sim this

What seemingly boring jobs do you think could make for an interesting simulation game? Would you play any on this list? How do you think they'd work? Let us know in the comments below.

And if you're looking for more, check out 9 video game bad guys who aren't really bad at all and 8 TV shows that need games.

Ryan Taljonick

Ryan was once the Executive Editor of GamesRadar, before moving into the world of games development. He worked as a Brand Manager at EA, and then at Bethesda Softworks, before moving to 2K. He briefly went back to EA and is now the Director of Global Marketing Strategy at 2K.