Feature: There comes a point in our lives when we need to make that big decision: your dreams of becoming a footballer, games designer or ice cream taste tester have withered away, and you’ve come to accept you need to find a steady job. But which career’s best for you? We try a few out, the gamer’s way: by playing some sims.
Day 1 – Farming Simulator 2011
Ah, now this is the life. The wide open countryside, the fields of hay to frolic in, the hundreds of animals to breed and murder. Hooray! Today, though, I’m going to get to grips with some harvesting. I thought farming would be a quiet, simple life, but this is seriously confusing. ‘Press B to attach truck’, ‘Press J to start cutter’, ‘W is go’. ‘NO, not that fast! Press 2 for harvesting speed’.
After getting my head around the many controls, harvesting actually comes quite naturally. It’s a bit like GTA: Farming DLC. In no time at all I’ve got my Krone BigX1000 doing handbrake turns and carving giant penis-shaped crop circles (pictures of which I won’t be including on my CV). After checking if you can harvest pedestrians (you can’t) I turn my hand to hay baling. ‘Press B to attach hay baler…’, right, ok, I get it. Thanks Farming Simulator 2011, I’ve got it from here. This is pleasingly simple and peaceful, and a lot less smelly than I expected. I think I’ll choose farming. When can I start?
Local farmer: “Tomorrow at four.”
4pm? That’s a bit late isn’t it? There’s barely any time left in the day…
Local farmer: “No, four in the morning, lad. We need to… hey, where’d he go?”
Day 2 – Crane Simulator 2009
Here’s a simulator made for desk jockeys like myself. I get to sit still for hours on end, and crucially it doesn’t involve early starts either. To get in the mood, I’ve made a huge thermos of tea and extended my office chair to its maximum height. Legs swinging in the breeze, I start my first day crane driving. First things first, I’m loading a ship with containers. Woah, easy does it. Down she goes. Phew. No accidents. This is a piece of cake – it’s like Tetris without all the awkward shapes. Lets try something a bit more challenging: house construction.
Downing the last of my Thermos I carefully lift the individual walls of a pre-fabricated house from a loaded truck. One goes in. Then another. No problems so far except… the empty thermos is taunting me from my desk. I really need to pee! Where’s the loo in this thing? There isn’t one! This is no good. Get me down! Why is my chair so high? I’m busting. Aieee! PHHHUUUDUNK.
Day 3 - Police Force
Ouch. Head wound stitched and chair repaired it’s time to play something less claustrophobic. A chance to be on the right side of the thin blue line would make a nice change. Let’s play Police Force. My first day is on the beat, walking the streets with a more experienced officer. Catching criminals, it turns out, is a case of pointing your PDA at passers-by and checking which side of the law they’re on. I didn’t realise policing was so easy. My colleague isn’t particularly talkative – she just blanks me when I ask if we can kettle those students over there, or how much of a victim’s personal information we can tell the newspapers. Is it all, or just most of?
Luckily my PDA identifies a criminal to break the awkward silence. Quick, more experienced officer, what do we do? Hmm, she’s still not talking to me. I guess this is a test. I do have a gun, but I’m pretty sure shooting robbers is against the law in this country. Maybe this is to test whether I use necessary legal force or something. I don’t want to balls this up – I’ll call for back up instead.
Oh, the criminal just murdered a pedestrian while escaping in a stolen car. And there’s a Game Over sign in front of me. Ah. I guess you are meant to shoot the baddies, just like in every other computer game ever. Oh well: as my lengthy international criminal record suggests, I’m just not cut out for police work.
Day 4 - Traffic Manager
What the… No, I’m not even trying this. I’m calling in sick. The traffic can manage itself.
Day 5 – Garden Simulator 2010
Ooh, this looks good. I have absolutely no desire to cultivate my own ‘garden’, the optimistic name I give the two square feet of concrete behind my flat, but find a way to gamify a household chore and I am all over it. Just ask Dustforce. My virtual garden springs up quickly. I get my hands dirty with a bit of hoeing, a bit of weeding, and a bit of planting. Bosh! I’ve got a nice little garden growing here.
Despite my early success, I am slightly disturbed by the grinning green smilies floating in mid air above my garden. I knew eating that strange looking weed I trowled was a bad idea. Oh god, one of the smilies is frowning! What do you need sad-smiley plant? Water? Sun? Should I tell you a joke? Okay, uh… How do new gardeners learn? By trowel and error! Hah! Hmm, still frowning? How about this… Why do potatoes make good detectives? They keep their eyes peeled! Ahahahaha… oh, you died.
Gardening’s clearly not for me, and I’d better steer clear of that stand-up comedian sim as well.
Day 6 - Sail Simulator 5
Ah, sailing. The gentle roll of the ocean, the wind in your hair, a parrot on your shoulder and drinking rum before lunchtime. Sail Simulator 5 allows you to enjoy at least one of those pleasures (two if you’ve got a spare parrot flying around). And if you rub a little table salt in your beard this is probably the most simulatory of the simulators I’ve tried this week. It’s also painfully hard. Pull that sheet in and the ship goes slower. Let it out again and the ship goes slower still. Plus I have no idea how to sail into wind. If only I hadn’t lost my wind waker when I moved house.
But wait, what’s this? An ‘A’ button for autopilot! Perfect. Sailing the BeefJack way. Now which bulkhead did we stash the rum in, port or starboard?
Day 7 - ?
I don’t if it’s the hangover talking, but I think I’ve finally found a job worthy of a man of my stature. Here’s a sim I can really get into. A rare career move that truly is an upgrade from the hallowed games journalist. I’m talking, of course, of the omnipotent-sim: Civilization 5. To fame and fortune, my fair citizens! I will lead you, immortally, from our first settled city to our last conquered continent. I am your god-like leader.