pixel art boat on blue water
Screenshot from Dave the Diver

Dave the Diver, a quirky new fishing game from a division of the creators of Maplestory, Nexon Co, rocketed through 1 million downloads in 10 days. Onlookers are wondering, why would anyone want to play a game that is essentially a virtual job with simple, everyday tasks that others perform just to make a living?

The answer isn’t so simple.

Many gamers love to have virtual jobs for a variety of reasons, but not because they don’t have day jobs and want to roleplay as workers.

To be clear, there is no single reason why gamers play any kind of video game. It’s simply a medium of art that can be enjoyed in any number of ways. For most people the answers are quite obvious: maybe they like to be competitive or are fascinated by the story of a game and just want to experience it all.

However, to some it’s incredibly hard to understand why gamers like to play simulator games that allow players to perform relatively mundane tasks but in a virtual world.

Why Do Gamers Like Simulation Games?

It’s a bit easier for people to see the appeal of simulator games like Dave the Diver have many more elements of regular games. You play as a scuba diver with a harpoon gun, diving into a mysterious hole to capture fish to supply your sushi restaurant. When night time comes, you return to your restaurant, work out the menu for the day, beautify the restaurant and serve customers with sushi and green tea.

But not all simulator games have this many mechanics, stakes, and tasks to fulfill.

Examples of these types of games that are hardest for others to wrap their minds around include Farming Simulator, which is so popular that there are a whopping 13 games in the series, and Power Wash Simulator, which broke an astounding 7 million sales in 8 months.

Power Wash Simulator is perhaps the most difficult to understand. It is extraordinarily simple at its face. You walk around cleaning things with a power washer. That’s pretty much it. That’s the game. And yet 7 million people thought that it was worth $24.99 and it still has about 2,000-4,500 users playing at any one time according to Steam’s analytics page.

So why is it so enticing? TheRinger.com’s Matt James, a popular gaming journalist, broke down the reasons why he loves the game so much in his 2022 review. He said it has “Exquisitely soothing aesthetics, a gentle learning curve, and deceptive depth make a game about cleaning off objects one of the best titles of 2022.”

One of the most common reasons you hear when you ask gamers why they like these types of games is because they are incredibly satisfying. They aren’t as exciting, difficult, or as other games but they simply facilitate enjoyable, often calming experiences.

Have you ever gotten that amazing feeling of satisfaction after deep cleaning something like a bike or a car that took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears? That’s the feeling that gamers are chasing in Power Wash Simulator, without all the blood, sweat, and tears and perhaps watered down a bit.

You get the satisfaction of turning a rusty decrepit object like a Ferris wheel into a sparkling clean marvel without all the work it would take in real-life.

Along with a sense of satisfaction, these games are often extremely peaceful. There aren’t any of the normal stresses that often accompany mundane tasks. There are essentially no stakes in Power Wash Simulator. You have unlimited water, no time limit, and nothing coming to attack you. You just enjoy the game’s music and start washing.

Likewise, in Euro Truck Simulator 2, you can enjoy the peace and quiet of the road without worrying about the potentially lethal implications of a crash. You just get your job, get in your truck and go on.

Even some truckers who spend 9+ hours a day driving a real truck love trucking simulator games because they can do what they can’t in their real life. They can drive fast and not worry about anything other than the road.

The Future of Simulator Games is Bright

The past few years have been incredible for simulator games. The genre has grown faster than ever before with all kinds of highly anticipated upcoming titles (especially massive sequels) including Cities: Skylines II, Manor Lords, Kerbal Space Program 2 and Frostpunk 2.

Simulator games may not be the most exciting games out there but they are becoming more and more popular seemingly every year. They probably won’t replace story or action based games like The Last of Us, Elden Ring, or Call of Duty, but they will likely continue to explode in popularity and become even more creative and satisfying as they perfect the genre over the next few years.

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