The 7 Most Baffling Video Game Adaptations of Everyday Life
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 ...
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.
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.
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.
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.
Walk It Out
The Wii asked gamers a question: Would you like to work out while you play video games? And the answer was an overwhelming "Yes!" ...
... that lasted about two months, and was then followed by an even more overwhelming "Turns out we were wrong!"
It was a fine idea in theory: exercise in private, without risking injury or embarrassment. But if you're thinking it was all thrilling pro sports and kickboxing entertainment, you sorely overestimate the Wii's understanding of the term "fun." Meet Walk It Out, the reasonable stroll simulator.
You can tell by the way he does his walk, he's a woman's man. No time to talk.
Walk It Out is exactly what it sounds like: You walk about a small town in the guise of your custom Mii, more than likely hilariously designed to resemble a wang with a face. Ah, but Walk It Out was much, much more than walking ... what's that you say? Jumping?
Don't be ridiculous.
There was also city building! You, too, could explore all the thrills of a controlled mosey combined with all the excitement of basic city planning. Little bubbles dotted the landscape, allowing the player to build houses, statues, even the occasional road! Can you imagine, FULL walking access to residential neighborhoods AND roads?! All for less than $150?!
The $25 "Mild Knee Pain" DLC is intense.
Garbage Man and Street Cleaner Simulators
We understand the desire to simulate a new and exciting career that you're not able or willing to pursue in reality: a professional athlete, a race car driver, a space marine (we hear the benefits are terrible). With video games, you could be any of those things. Or you could give up on even digital ambitions and just be a metropolitan mid-level sanitation worker instead.
If you can figure out which item on the previous list doesn't belong, then you've already avoided the mistake that Excalibur Publishing made.
We truly wish we could say that was a satirical Photoshop.
Garbage Truck Simulator has you take on the role of an unassuming street grunt in command of your very own municipal beast of burden. You're tasked with cleaning up the streets -- only literally, of course; there's no Charles Bronson DLC for Garbage Truck Simulator. You receive fines for speeding or for crashing, but it's not like your lumbering garbage truck is really capable of "speeding" anyway.
You missed some hobo urine: 50 point penalty.
Staying with the theme of "simulating things people don't like doing even if they get paid to do them," Excalibur also released Street Cleaning Simulator. If you're wondering what happens if you decide to put the pedal to the floor and get the real action started, well ... so is the game. Your street cleaner tops out at around 10 mph. Hopefully they rendered the annoyed honking and obscenities screamed by other drivers who have been stuck behind you for the last 15 blocks.
Hide and Seek
Sneak'n Peek was a virtual game of hide and seek. Now, we know that sounds pathetic at first: Why simulate a game that easy to play in reality? There's no expensive barrier to entrance like golf or paragliding. Real hide and seek only requires two things to play:
1) another person and
Evidently played by the people on road signs.
But actually, we could see an ambitious, modern-day video game version of hide and seek doing quite well. Give the player an entire city to hide in! Or a moonbase, or the set of Tron -- wait, no, give everybody jet packs! But alas: Sneak'n Peek was very much an authentic hide and seek simulator. No superpowers. No exciting environments. Just an old, empty house and two unremarkable, pixelated player avatars.
"If a friend isn't available to play, the computer will be happy to hide from you." - A sentence clearly typed through tears.
Still, maybe it's for ... kids with disabilities? Kids in bad neighborhoods with tiny apartments? There's no answer to "Who is this game for?" that doesn't make us very sad inside. And even worse, Sneak'n Peek was an objectively terrible simulator. It turns out that, to play hide and seek well, one needs places to hide. Experienced hide and seekers posit that "hiding" may even be up to 50 percent of the game. And while it did the seeking part just fine, hiding was something Sneak'n Peek just couldn't pull off: Thanks to hardware limitations, the game featured "up to" 20 hiding places, total, scattered across four entire rooms! Rooms that looked like this:
Wait, that's a game?! We thought it was a photo!
Is he under the bed, or is he ... dead, I guess? Probably under the bed.
The game could also be played solo, but parents: If you ever catch your kid playing a solo game of virtual hide and seek, hock the Atari and get him into therapy immediately. That's a clinically verified sign of crippling depression.
You can find Mxy on Twitter. Applesmihara is a freelance writer, and you can email him at email@example.com.
For more bizarre video games, check out The 5 Most Pathetic Video Game Acting Performances. Or learn about 5 Famous Video Game Villains (Who Are Actually the Victim).
Related Reading: You know what would make this article WAY more depressing? Reading about incredible game ideas that will never be made. Next, restore your faith in the gaming industry with this list of terrible ideas that were cut out of video games at the last minute. The scream-based combat Legend of Zelda almost included would have made the world a much more irritating place. And if you'd like a reminder of just what things video games do better than any other form of art, click that last hyperlink.