As a kid, it didn’t even occur to me that some of the games I was playing were based on real careers. Now, I look at a game and marvel at the fact that video games can make even the most mundane tasks fun. At least, that’s what people claim to be having when they’re screaming at their guild members to micromanage their stat weights in World of Warcraft.
Anyway, there are a lot of games that let you take on the role of a hard-working individual and somehow manage to make it enjoyable. Check out some of the otherwise demanding jobs that video games polished up enough to seem easy, fun, and interesting.
Try Being a Frustrated Airport Manager in Aerobiz: Supersonic
For being on the Sega Genesis, Aerobiz: Supersonic was a surprisingly deep game that put you in the shoes of an airport manager. It’s your job to make your airport the most successful one in the world during a specific era. So, you can try playing from 1970-1990, an era that features wild oil price changes, political instability, and changes in technology. While all that is happening, you’re tasked with buying space at airports and deciding which planes should take which routes to balance fuel economy and repair costs.
After the twenty-year stint is up, your character retires or finds another way out of the industry, and the game determines whether you were successful. I never got the hang of this game as a kid because I didn’t understand enough of it, but I still had a good time trying.
Looking back, it’s weird that business simulations were even a thing. I guess they could have helped prepare younger people for the realization that all the number-crunching and analysis in the world can’t win out over bad luck. Either way, they made the soul-crushing experience of a management position interesting.
Be the Worst Uber Driver in The Simpsons: Road Rage
Homer’s not really a taxi driver, so he’s doing a freelance driving gig. Does that mean The Simpsons did Uber and Lyft first? Spooky.
Your job is to take all the familiar denizens of Springfield around the town to random drop-off points. You have to do it in a certain amount of time to earn coins that can be used to buy cars and other neat extras.
Just like the real ride-sharing experience, you’ll have to go above and beyond to keep some of your clients happy, like Krusty the Clown. You have to help him escape his adoring fans, even if it means slamming into other cars.
I’ll be the first to admit that the game can get old very quickly once you have most of the stuff unlocked. Still, it made a very difficult job seem fun, but that’s probably because you don’t have to clean up virtual puke after taking Barney down to Moe’s.
Sow Your Seeds in Harvest Moon: Back to Nature
The theme song for Harvest Moon: Back to Nature drags me down and clubs me with nostalgia. This game is just so frickin’ wholesome and pleasant. Basically, your Grandpa died and left you the old family farm. It’s your job to successfully rehabilitate the property and make a functioning farm within three years, or the people of Mineral Town will somehow disinherit you. Weird, but okay.
You don’t get much to start. Your field is full of weeds, stones, and rocks. You barely have enough money to plant your first crops, and your days go zipping by at a pretty fast pace. Over time, you accumulate more money by selling crops, plant a bigger harvest, and spend money on improvements around the farm that let you do more per day. It’s Farmville without friends or buying energy.
The game even has realistic seasons, like winter, and you won’t do much your first time through. You can focus on gathering and selling ore, romancing the local women from the town, and preparing for the next season.
Eventually, you can make a pretty formidable farm complete with livestock, and a hothouse that lets you grow plants in any season. You can even get married and have a little kid with your wife of choice.
Bad stuff can happen, too. For example, hurricanes can rip through your property, or you can wear down your character so much that it takes a while to recover. Running the farm is a constant fight against time and requires a lot of maintenance.
Aside from the half-dozen women vying for your affection, the game gives you a good idea of how difficult running a farm can be. The work is worth it in the end because it’s so much fun to build something from the ground up.
Become the Worst Landlord Ever in Fable III
The Fable series let you do a lot of sick, twisted, and evil things, but being a landlord was by far the evilest. You get to use the royal coffers to buy shops, rickety houses, and manors. Then, you repair the properties and pump that rent through the roof. That’s right, you get to do some digital gentrification without having to haul sheets of drywall or install new rugs.
Seriously, though, being a landlord in this game almost makes me sympathetic towards property managers. While the real estate portion of Fable III can make you wealthy, the upkeep on your rental properties will drive you insane. It’s not so much that fixing up the houses is expensive; it’s just time-consuming. You have to use the map to go to each individual property and then repair it. Just for a quick reference, there are over 100 properties you can buy.
At the end of the day, when you have more gold than you know what to do with, the real estate portion of the game is worth it. I couldn’t imagine doing that in real life, though.
Become an Attorney in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
Being an attorney isn’t easy. Mountains of paperwork, lots of procedures, and only one or two crazy outbursts every year to make the whole thing worth it. We’ve gotten so used to the attorneys in film and television that most people don’t have any idea how utterly boring and difficult the career can be.
On a side note, apparently My Cousin Vinny is recognized as being somewhat accurate by lawyers. So, still pretty uneventful.
Fortunately, we get to play as Phoenix Wright, an up-and-coming defense attorney trying to make a name for himself.. Right away, the game tries to get you away from the boring legal stuff by letting you actually investigate the crimes that your client is accused of committing, to an extent.
In the courtroom, you get to take part in the fun cross-examination of witnesses. Again, you don’t have to sit through the entire court case. You’re just there for the good stuff. Throw in an objection once in a while, catch people in lies, and fight for your client’s innocence.
While the game does gloss over a lot of what it means to be an attorney, it still gives you a faint idea of why it’s such a hard job. I only played this first game and that was enough “lawyering” for me. Now, if a game wanted to let me be a corrupt lawyer, then I’d buy that in a heartbeat.
There are tons of video games that try to give you a slice of life in the form of a job. While some of the basic elements of those professions stay intact, video games take a lot of liberties to make sure we can stand to do the tasks assigned to the player. Feel free to let me know what other sorts of career-oriented video games are out there that I missed. I know there’s a whole world of crazy simulators that I didn’t touch, so there’s a jumping-off point!