Thursday, January 17, 2008

Where Playtime Meets Work

As the shine fades from the new year and all my best intentions for productivity disappear, I find myself playing arcade-style games on the website Miniclip. Obviously a great procrastination tool. However, there is a disturbing theme emerging from the few games I have been playing. They require you to work! And not in a collect-the-shiny-coins-and-advance-to-the-next-level way. You are required to make money, develop your business, invest in capital works, and hire employees, all in the time frame of a working day.

Take the game Sushi Go Round. A daily goal is set, customers come in, you make them sushi. Customers get cranky if you take too long. If you run out of rice or nori or sake you have to order more, but only after you have taken enough profits to afford said orders. If you don't take empty plates away new customers don't come in. By the close of business you need to have reached the daily target or you fail. Sound familiar?

Or try Youda Camper, where you have to build a camping ground from scratch. As customers come in you have to design new camping spots for them to suit their needs. And they make complaints. The toilet block isn't close enough, there isn't a parking space close enough to their tent, there isn't enough greenery, the tent is on fire etc. etc.

My personal favourite is Kindergarten. You are running your own child care service where you get paid $10 per kid per day. You have to feed, wash, change, entertain these kids and if you don't do it quickly enough, you fail. You can hire help and buy more facilities, but only after you have slaved away for weeks to earn enough money. Talk about pressure.

As someone who has suffered through many customer service jobs, I find myself having flashbacks to being abused by the general public and having to meet daily quotas to keep my job. I like my mindless entertainment to be just that, mindless. Not packed with the stresses of everyday life at the bottom of the employment ladder. Raft Wars is the game for me. Kids on rafts piffing tennis balls at each other to knock them off into shark-infested water. Simple.

1 comment:

Mel said...

I once played a mobile phone game called "Waitress" or somesuch, where you have to seat customers, take their orders, give them their food, clear tables, etc.

At the time I was working as a waitress and one of the most enjoyable parts of the job was the high-pressure prioritisation of tasks: precisely the same skills this game required.