Halifax is to star in its own video game! While developers could have opted to highlight vistas of the Atlantic Ocean or the history of Nova Scotia’s capital, they instead decided to focus on something a little more familiar to our lives. The game concentrates on a two-and-a-half-hour flight between New York City and Halifax. No, you’re not flying the plane – you’re a passenger. In real-time. The aim of the game is to not get too bored. But what does this uber-realistic simulation game tell us about modern gaming?
Airplane Mode aims to be the most realistic flight simulator game created, only it doesn’t focus on the logistics of navigating through airspace, it focuses on what you’d be doing as a passenger. The game has a real-time component, so you could be playing for two hours before you even reach Halifax itself. The aim of the game is to keep yourself occupied during the flight. The game hopes to package up the highs and lows of a long-haul flight.
Airplaine Mode comes in a long line of games which take elements from real-world activities, and successfully merge them with the online world. For example, although not a simulation itself, the gameplay at online casinos, with classic games like poker, roulette, and blackjack ‘simulate’ the actual casino experience, especially when we consider live casino rooms. Plus, players can take advantage of a casino bonus when playing online, which wouldn’t be available in a physical casino. Furthermore, the game Desert Bus takes a similar concept to Airplane Mode as you drive a bus for eight hours in the desert. Street Cleaning Simulator also takes one of the least-coveted jobs and turns it into a real-time simulation game.
But what do you actually do in the game? To fill the time on your flight, you can complete puzzles such as crosswords and sudokus, watch movies, and even re-watch safety videos. You can keep track of your flight path, or just gaze out of the window. The game was made due to the absurdity of it being so commonplace. Ideas reflecting our real-life experiences are often turned into games. Sometimes they allow us to do things we wouldn’t in normal life, while other times they provide us with the opportunity to navigate things exactly as we’d like to, in situations we wouldn’t perhaps find ourselves in realistically. Like driving a bus through the desert, for example.
There are countless games that offer simulations of real-life – from running a hospital, theme park, and airport to living on an island surrounded by animals. Rollercoaster Tycoon, Theme Hospital, Airport Simulator, and Animal Crossing are widely popular games. One of Facebook’s most played titles, Farmville, mimicked being a farmer – albeit with time sped up. The game garnered a huge number of players and became a daily ritual for many as they tended their gardens and livestock. Going back to 2000, The Sims was the first real simulation game that attracted attention as players created homes and families.
Our enjoyment of simulating real-life comes from the comfort of what we know combined with the challenges the game throws our way. Competitive spirit can still be fostered through even the most mundane games, while the recognisability of the topic can help us escape and relax. The trend for simulation games is likely to grow even more with VR and AR allowing us to simulate things in a more realistic way.