With the lock down in place I’ve had a bit more chance to play some games and have a think of how they effect me in certain situations. These aren’t the type of articles I normally post but having some time to reflect I thought it was time I gave this a crack. Management Sims are my go-to choice of game to escape the hustle of the real life world and all it’s stresses. Specifically when I feel I’ve lost control of a certain situation; much like what it going on in the real world with pandemic. A number of people I have spoken to have complained of how bored they are and how much they miss the outside world. Management sims like Planet Zoo and City Skylines can not only entertain but help you feel in control again. Much like they have done for me in the past.

Good ol’ God Complex

First of all, management sims are games that grant you control, and you can practically do what you want. There is no arguing with colleges, partners, family and friends etc. You alone are in complete control, and you decide on the happenings. Okay, in campaigns there may be a helping hand who tells you what to do, objectives and financial burdens but you fundamentally get that final decision. Even though there are these influences to do certain things, you can chose what your objectives are and the results are very visible and easily identifiable.

Even if things go wrong: your factory section is polluting the air of your residential area, a natural disaster or your finances are crumbling before you. It is up to you how to deal with that mess, you always have that final say, no matter what. In real life that may not be the case. You have to consider outside influences and pay attention to them. Other people may have a say and things just may be simply out of your control. That becomes infuriating and management sims fulfil the fantasy that is control.

Peaceful Time Away

Management Sims are a type of game you can spend as little or as much time as you’d like, however, they are games that can completely engorge you. Once you are well and truly lost it is difficult to get out of; whether this is a bad or a good thing depends on why you are playing. Getting lost in these game means that I can completely rid my mind of any issues of the real world and focus solely on whatever I may be working on beyond the screen.

That peaceful moment of watching your animals roam their enclosure as your guests have a great time in your zoo

Those hours spent managing your city can sometimes be quite peaceful, despite the stress it suggests. Sometimes in real life a pause button would be mind saving, just like the film ‘Click’ and you can have a moment. Here, you can. The stress build up in these games are easily managed with a quick time management system, allowing you to speed up, slow down or even pause time to think about your next move. Also the music in these games is normally so chilling and unobtrusive so it’s not always in your face and distracting, it’s almost ambient and really allows you to focus.

Feeling of Success

There is nothing better than looking over your park, sprawling metropolis or whatever you may have created and thinking that was me, that’s awesome, how cool does that look. That feeling of success is something key to this article, there’s been times where I’ve felt like a complete failure and several hours after creating an awesome looking zoo or successful colony after fighting back at a system that throws all sorts of hurdles your way and just thinking “holy shit, that looks awesome”. As I’ve said before the results of completing objectives is very visible in these games and seeing that reward makes you want to do bigger and crazier things on the game. You can take that feeling and go on and take on anything that comes your way in your job and general life, it’s just such an awesome feeling.

Develop those Skills

Most games improve hand-eye coordination but management sims teach you how to multi-task, utilise finances effective and all other sorts of life skills. I listened to a great TED podcast from Tim Harford, a couple of weeks ago, which talked about how working on two projects at the same time can actually increase productivity and creativity, as it helps you to think of good ideas. Although gaming may seem that they don’t provide physical and real world productive results, it provides a great opportunity to rid yourself of those bad ideas as you take yourself away from a situation and teach you things. It’s also taught me how to patiently plan things and build from something small into something big, mainly due to the early financial restrictions and how to pre-planning saving certain areas or begin outlining projects before they can actually be built. This was specifically key in games like Planet Zoo, where you had to think of what the first animals were going to be hosted and what to build.
I could go on for hours about the skills that video games, never mind just managment sims could teach us, but I start reading Mastering The Game by Jon D Harrison, a couple of nights ago which is a really good read on the type of skills and life lessons that video games can teach us.

There are some faults

Earlier on I discussed how getting lost in these games can take hours of your time, this can be extremely bad if you lose that touch with reality and play into the early hours of the morning or disturb your daily routine. Not to sound like your parents, but this is the down side to playing these games or any game for that matter, it is important to make sure you keep check with reality as it is very easy to get lost in these.

A great idea

Also it’s important to make sure you are playing with a game you are comfortable with, if playing for that escape from real world stress. Complicated menus are something that plague the console ports for management sims, with a lot going on a complicated menu system can really take that peacefulness away from the game as you get lost in the many menus. Although the PC and Mac versions aren’t easier to navigate due to many menus and sub-menus, the use of the mouse makes it ten times easier for the player. There is nothing more frustrating than clicking on a menu to only realise you what you wanted isn’t there and then having to delve into another menu.

For me and I hope for many others, management sims are a great escape and give of that feel good factor that we all wish for, this is what makes them one of my favourite genre to play and I’m always excited when there’s a new release. They are truly a genre of game you can get lost in for hours, putting on your headphones and making your virtual business, city or park an astounding success and then taking that success to make you feel better and take on situations differently when returning to the hustle of the real world.

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