Ever heard of Goat Simulator? The game where you play a goat and do crazy things with physics and messing about in general? It's been updated with an MMO Simulator about a month or so ago, and I recently picked it up again to try it out. And while I could go on about how perfectly Goat Simulator captured the essence of
World of Warcraft every MMO and mushed it together with the silliness of the original gameplay, I actually thought about where the roots of Goat Simulator originated from.
What defines a simulation game? According to Wikipedia, the simulation genre is a "diverse super-category of video games, generally designed to closely simulate aspects of a real or fictional reality." Interestingly enough, the article considers sports, dating, and casino games to be simulation games. I've known about the "dating sim" genre, but honestly I've found it to be very loosely based in any sort of sane reality, especially when you have games like Hatoful Boyfriend and My Girlfriend is an Alpaca.
But obviously, dating sims don't really mean much when it comes to the roots of Goat Simulator. But if the simulation genre umbrellas over so many subgenres, then we have to not look so broadly at the simulation genre, but rather directly at the games from which I believe Goat Simulator drew its inspiration. The earliest is, to my understanding, Farming Simulator 2011.
The game was released and the word quickly spread when people found out how glitched the physics were. The farming became simply the backdrop while people played around with the vehicles and exploited the broken engine. Here, from what I gather in my amateur research, people started to make communities based on toying around with games to see if they can push the engine to its limits and hilarious results. Of course, people have been doing this since the dawn of video games, but I think this is where people really started to connect with each other around this hobby.
This doesn't really fit into what the game was designed for, yet this kind of thing is still going on. In fact, I'd have to say it's grown even more rampant to the point where the game is so poorly made that no one can tell if it was intentional or if people thought the game would be really good and didn't know exactly what they were doing. This train of thought goes through my head every time I'm looking at the older simulation games.
These are the games that the newer simulation games are poking fun at: Goat Simulator, Surgeon Simulator, I Am Bread, and Octodad. These simulation games, as they label themselves, all have one common theme that runs among them - physics. They intentionally made the physics able to create hilarious or impossibly difficult results. The developers of these games knew that the simulation genre was notorious for terrible physics. They took this flaw that some would have said ruined games like Farming Simulator and turned it into the core concept.
In my opinion, this is exactly what the relationship between developers and audience should be like. Gamers are going to always go above and beyond the expectations of the developers. Look at P.T. - Kojima thought that people were going to be stumped for at least a week before figuring out the insane puzzle that unlocks the teaser for Silent Hills. Instead, people were able to crack the code the day it was released.
I think I kind of lost track of what the point of this article originally was about. But in the end, I found that the new wave of simulation games are demonstrating just what gamers as a whole wanted. It doesn't appeal to the niche market of Farming Simulator or Train Simulator, but it certainly does appeal to far more gamers than the original simulators did. We don't need to force a relationship between gamers and developers - quite the opposite in fact. If gamers find something small they enjoy, developers will be able to find a way to turn that into something bigger and better than before.
Advancing a genre so quickly with the mass appeal of gamers is something that I think should be looked into as a way to not only advance games, but other avenues of entertainment. The reaction of the mass populace and how the developers use that reaction as a way to advance the original concept or create something new out of it almost sounds like a process that companies should follow in many other fields, not just video games. Of course, now I'm just speculating something based on my own observations, but it's always nice to dream, eh?
What do you think? Does the new wave of simulation games show just how the relationship between developers and gamers can be beneficial? Am I going insane and speaking nonsense? Seriously I can't tell if this is just gibberish that only I understand. Comment down below!