Video games let you be anything: a brave spaceship captain, the undisputed master of chiefs, or even a terribly ineffective plumber on hallucinogens. And yet with all of reality available to warp and twist into whatever shape we like, some people prefer to use video games to do the most boring stuff possible. Like ...
#7. Sensible Train Spotting
Oh man, a Trainspotting game sounds like a blast. You get to be all Scottish and on heroin and -- oh, you mean literal train spotting? That sounds ... less fun. We suppose there might be some entertainment value to be had: Maybe you could take tours of trains not otherwise available to the public, or even ride them to interesting new destinations. Yeah, sure -- we could see some amount of value in a game like that. But this is not a game like that. This isn't just train spotting -- this is SENSIBLE Train Spotting. That's right: It is a simulator not only of trains and the spotting thereof, but of doing so in a safe and responsible manner.
Sequel to the critically acclaimed Feeding Pigeons.
Thrill at the moderation! Gasp at the restraint! In Sensible Train Spotting, you play a fearless unnamed hero who sits at his local train station with his trusty thermos and watches passing trains. As you can plainly see, these aren't high-end graphics or anything, so it's not even about watching the details of the trains themselves. It's about matching the numbers on the trains to arbitrary numbers you already have. See, each train has a unique number, and by scratching it off of your own in-game bingo card when a train passes, you ... win? We guess?
That can't be right. There can be no winners in a game of Sensible Train Spotting.
#6. Virtual Dog Walking
You know what the best part about owning a dog is? "The love and companionship"? Wh- what are you, dim? No, dude, the best part is taking it out to the bathroom! If you've always wanted to fly wingman on a dog-crap sortie but don't have the astounding resources needed to acquire one of those canine extravagances on your own (we hear the retrievers are made of pure gold!), Japan has got your back.
Sigh -- Of course it's Japan. Why would we think it wasn't?
Just like every other time you wanted to do something weird and vaguely unsettling.
Only available at your local arcade in your local Japan, Virtual Dog Walking lets you take the leash of a dog-like companion -- which is spread eagle atop its doghouse for some reason -- step on the treadmill, and for a low entrance fee simulate the experience of walking side by side with your pet looking to do its business. There are a few obstacles -- rogue cars, other dogs -- but for the most part, this is all about peacefully walking next to a digital dog, and then crying yourself to sleep in your closet-sized apartment.
#5. Wii Fireplace Simulators
A lot of modern homes don't have fireplaces, and that makes some people sad. And they figure, since they're already sad, why not just double down on this whole sadness thing and get themselves a virtual fireplace? It's not a new idea: There have been fireplace screen savers and roaring-fire videos for decades, but we've always been relegated to spectators of our virtual fires. No longer! Now, finally, we digital fire starters can dive in and deal with all the infuriating annoyances of a real fire, like feeding it, tending it, and struggling to get it lit while our wives and children make cracks about how a real man could do this much quicker, and probably without crying. Yes, truly, a fireplace simulator is a brilliant idea. Now, to pick the right one ...
Yep! There's more than one "fireplace simulator" for the Nintendo Wii. The first one is called Cozy Fire, and it drops you straight into the frying pan. What's that? You want to get out of that frying pan and into the fire? Well you better start gently rearranging logs, friend, or it's going to go out.
But be careful. One false move and that thing could burn your whole dick off.
Ah, but that's for the casual fireplacers. For you hardcore digital flame aficionados, there's Fireplacing. To play, you're instructed to press "A" to drop some logs:
Then you have to press "A" a few more times to stoke the virtual fire, and voila! Congratulations, you beat the game. That's it. If you were hoping all the annoying "tending" duties would teach you anything about making a real fire, or even provide some arbitrary degree of difficulty, prepare for disappointment. Oh, right, you own a fireplace simulator: You and disappointment are already on good terms.
#4. Lawn Mower
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Created by Christopher Orr and released in 1987, Lawn Mower is an ASCII game for MS-DOS in which you slowly build your landscaping empire, one blade of grass at a time. "ASCII" is an acronym that stands for "Who Needs Graphics When You Have a Keyboard," so you know nobody was into Lawn Mower for the beautiful aesthetics. They were into it for the pure, primal rush one only attains by making grass slightly shorter than it currently is.
Of course, it sucks that there's no "scare your neighbors" mode where you mow in a thong bikini.
At the heart of it, Lawn Mower was basically an incredibly stripped-down version of Pac-Man. You controlled a little twinkling star that briefly interacted with and ultimately dissolved the grass asterisks (we would've gone with "grassterisks," but Lawn Mower didn't exactly have a writing budget). There were no enemies, but there were obstacles, such as houses, pools, mailboxes, various holes, and a large rectangular structure labeled "dog."
What, were you expecting an actual dog? Haha, no: That's why we have Virtual Dog Walking.
At least it has a big yellow "DOG" stamp like in real life.
Sadly, Lawn Mower didn't quite catch on, discouraging Orr from releasing the next few games in his Mind-Numbing Chore series, such as Dish Washer, Garage Cleaner, and the artistically meta Lawn Mower Player.