What is behind the rise and success of the simulation game genre?

Linking to pornography on the homepage is not a habit of VG247, but /r/powerwashingporn/ does not involve physical issues. Rather, it aims to satisfy the soul. More than a million “enthusiasts” log in during their free time on stressful days to see the dirt removed from the patio by the high-pressure hose.

“Kosti [Rigden]James Marsden, Creative Director of FuturLab, said: “My wife and business partner have been members for several months. Refuse. You can’t do it barefoot, because it may put pressure on people. The same phenomenon also happened on YouTube: videos with NSFW titles, such as “Free High Pressure Cleaning of Sweet Old Lady’s Dirty Brick Steps”, received millions of views. In addition to the things provided are completely innocent Of-seeing the gleaming muddy steps, brick by brick duality satisfaction.

“There is something there,” Marsden realized. “The idea of ​​making the simulator is that everything you do is clean in this very precise, razor-like way-you will actually have the exact same experience, but you will be in control. satisfy.”

Facts have proved so. FuturLab’s PowerWash emulator is now rated as absolute praise on Steam by thousands of people-where it is advertised as a way to “release stress” and “eliminate worries”.

This illusion is the same as the illusion sold in TV promotional cleaning products throughout the ages: a rare problem that can be eliminated in an instant, leaving a brighter world. This is a fantasy-escape from reality like any swordsmanship and magic role-playing game or Rambo-style shooter. More and more sim developers have achieved great success in recreating everyday life-or at least an idealized version of it.

“This is more like what you think of as a powerful washing, rather than what it really looks like,” said Dan Chequer, chief designer of PowerWash Sim. “There are no shortcomings of recoil, and no getting your feet wet.”

“It’s good for you to do something that transfers the thoughts of the past or future from the past or the future to the present. I think that’s why many people like modern simulation games.”

There is no endurance mechanism for back pain in PowerWash Sim, and there is no risk of dirt transferring from one surface to another. All the frustration and irritation that might make a satisfying task worse has been polished away (yes, before you ask, there is a polished simulator there).

The popular PC Building Simulator provides a similar sense of security-you won’t blow up components or yourself while playing the game. “We work hard to ensure that the game provides you with the right questions with the correct tempo and the correct distribution of rewards,” said John Duffill, design director of PC Building Sim. Paradoxically, however, its fantasy depends on a commitment to realism.

“The PC field is very specification-oriented and has a lot of knowledge about components and manufacturers,” Duffill said. “In this sense, it reflects the car tuning scene. This is the same as the fantasy you get in any video game-this person wants to experience something without paying any price, whether it’s money or time.”

However, PC Building Sim is not only a testing ground for theoretical equipment, but also a bottomless pit with self-made puzzles. As the team discovered, it is also “Zen”. It turns out that manual and laborious execution of a process can make you frustrated, and the simplified input of AAA games rarely does this.

“To go through a series of repeated actions or steps is the basis of many meditations,” Duffel points out. “Look at yoga or woodworking. It’s good for you to do something that shifts your mind from the past or the future to the present. I think that’s why many people like modern simulation games.”

“The attraction lies in learning, understanding and mastering complex systems. Even for more casual players, accomplishing things that initially seem too complicated or even impossible can provide sometimes unexpected pleasure.”

Jorg Neumann, the head of Microsoft Flight Simulator, is particularly familiar with the counter-intuitive charm of overly complex devices. “Simmers is looking for authenticity and accuracy, and its appeal lies in learning, understanding and mastering complex systems,” he said. “Even for more casual players, achieving something that initially seems too complicated or even impossible can provide sometimes unexpected fun.”

PC Building Sim combines its tactile machine assembly and management to shape you into a small business owner. “Almost all simulation games start from the perspective of your success in this field, through making money and progress,” Duffill said. “The business perspective provides players with a ready-made framework around which they can build a narrative and continue the game.”

In contrast, FuturLab ultimately rejected any content unrelated to the soothing experience of PowerWash Sim. “When we sell to publishers, the question is,’Where is the diversity that keeps people interested?'” Marsden said. “For other simulators, you may tend to associate other aspects with management. In PC Building Simulator, you need to unscrew each screw to install the graphics card. The core mechanism in PowerWash Sim just turns a pixel of dirt into a clean Pixels, and for some reason, this is eye-catching all day long.

“If you put in some soothing sounds and some interesting objects to clean, and always do it under a bright blue sky, without time pressure, then suddenly you will have a meditation experience without confrontation.”

Chequer added: “The irony is that the game does not intentionally keep you there, the fact that it keeps people there.”

Marsden suggested that meditation simulation can not only temporarily get rid of the frenetic rhythm of action games, but also relieve the exhaustion of second-screen social media and the 24-hour news cycle: “We have seen some Steam comments saying,’I have not been able to Focus on one thing for more than 20 minutes.” But people have been able to play PowerWash Simulator for hours at a time-the sun rises and sets, and they don’t even notice. It disconnects the brain and really rests. We are exploring ways to really investigate whether this is beneficial to people’s mental health. “

Many Microsoft Flight Sim players tell Neumann that they will start his game when they return home from get off work to decompress. However, he believes that this has nothing to do with the plane’s touch and meditation control, but more with the incredible freedom and sense of infinity inherent in flying. “In my opinion, a person will eventually appreciate the world itself deeply,” he said. “Whether it is the magnificent mountains of the Alps, or the Sahara Desert, or just somewhere on the ocean.”

However, despite the promise of the Grand Canyon, Hong Kong or the Great Pyramid of Giza, nearly 70% of players still set their destination as their hometown. The secular attraction, which places the game in real and familiar things, is too powerful to resist.

“Almost everyone has something special in this world,” Neumann said. “The town or city we grew up in, the first apartment or house we remembered living in, the place where we vacationed, went to school or went to university. I found this to be a very special element of Microsoft Flight Simulator, because this world is not fictional. Yes, but a representative of real life, which can take you back to all kinds of places that can have real emotional impact.”

Therefore, the simulator has been trying to make the adventure real for a long time. But nothing can highlight their potential to escape reality like Covid-19. As some PC components have turned into gold dust, even PC Building Simulator presents a dreamlike atmosphere. Of course, for a long time, the pandemic made even the most monotonous form of flight out of reach.

“As travel restrictions continue to be implemented in many parts of the world, some people find real solace in the Microsoft Flight Simulator instead of visiting the planet and their favorite places,” Neumann said. There is a line from Leonardo Da Vinci, whose team has used it as a source of inspiration since the beginning of development. “Once you taste the taste of flying, you will always walk on the earth and look at the sky, because you were there, and you will always be eager to return there.”