The Daily Grind: Do you prefer ‘work’ simulation MMOs to more fantastic game worlds?

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In the comments of my piece on Raph Koster’s book last week, a commenter brought up the idea that mimicking the real world in MMOs was a “sad” sort of “obsession” – why would we want to work in a video game in our spare time, he was essentially asking, when we could do something fresh and creative with our video game spaces instead?

I took a stab at answering the question, supposing that just because we can theoretically do a job in real life doesn’t mean we are realistically or physically able to do it, and exploration of the unreachable can be fun. A post on the Psychology of Video Games blog answers it even better: Author Jamie Madigan writes that games like Farming Simulator 17 and Euro Truck Simulator do so well precisely because people like to explore those types of jobs in a low-stress, who-cares-if-I-run-my-semi-off-the-virtual-autobahn environment. “These games remove the worst of the uncertainty, helplessness, ambiguity, and consequences for failure that come with those real world jobs and turn them into game systems that are interesting and fun to interact with,” he argues. “They give players clear goals, unambiguous feedback, winnable challenges, and predictable rewards. All things that most jobs sadly don’t consistently provide.”

That certainly explains it: I really hate thinking about money in real life, but I love playing around in MMO economies where my market mistakes simply don’t matter.

How about you? Do you prefer simulation MMOs to more fantastic game worlds? Or something in between? And is there an activity that you love in MMOs but hate in the real world?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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Rolan Storm

My first answer was ‘NO’, but when you put it that way… I remember a very fun game on MSX2, named ‘Payload’ (player took on a role of Japanese truck driver).

So I guess depends on a job and how it is implemented in MMO, right? I guess answer will be ‘no’ when it comes to boring and/or needlessly detailed game mechanics. Otherwise it all good. SWG (yeah, again) come to mind – there were seemingly boring activities, but once you figure it out it was very much fun.

Kickstarter Donor

Games are ALL about escapism for me. the more like real life and filled with un-fun unnecessary work mechanics and grinds they are the less likely I am to touch them.

I have stopped playing many games because they felt like work not fun.

Patreon Donor

Fantastic ones, any time. I don’t play games to be in the real world, or some representation of it. I’m fine with a game world being realistic, that’s something else entirely (and I think every good game world should be that). But I don’t want it to be just a piece of the real world. Give me some fantasy or science fiction, or a mix of them.


The older I get(53) the more I find myself migrating to “sims” whether it’s Euro Truck 2 or Arma 3 mostly because of the boredom that has followed most newer MMO games for the last 5 years. Having played a lot of those types of games over a period of 20 years has pushed me to want a more real life experience for my gaming needs. Sim games also allow me to use peripherals like steering wheels or a HOTAS setup for my games now which also adds to the fun!
Star Citizen is next on my list of a sim game…

Robert Mann

There are times when something that is similar to a job here in the real world is fun. There’s times and implementations that are just tediously boring as well.

For MMOs, a lot of what I want is world interaction away from combat. That can be done in so many different ways that it leaves a lot of room for both ‘work’ and ‘fresh and creative’ stuff. It even leaves room for fresh, creative ways of looking at jobs that might be considered work, and how people might enjoy that.

I also see a lot more of the idea of turning ‘work’ into ‘playful work’ in games than, for example, going into details on scrubbing pots and pans. Where the idea of a simulation as real as possible for scrubbing like that sounds boring, most of the ‘work’ things that seem to be being addressed here are not done in that same vein.

Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor

I likely will never own 2000 acres of agriculture zoned land but I am fascinated by farming and in another future life would love nothing better than to work a large farm – and nothing else. So in that sense it isn’t work in the game – it is fantasy for me.


I like to do things in games that I can’t/don’t do in my everyday life. The fantastical is what I enjoy most, but my preference can include more realistic activities like ruling a nation in Civ or being a criminal in GTA. Mundane activities in games like The Sims bore me to tears. Oh boy, instead of cooking meals and scrubbing toilets I can do those things in a video game! Take all my money!

Fervor Bliss

I do enjoy looking humanish, and doing human things like tending a small garden, fish, and dance.

Jon Wax

burnt on fantasy. no more purple glowing shit for the love of god!!
id like a real hard science sci fi mmo but i think that would be like kerbal meets eve and wouldn’t end well.

how to simulate the real world without the game mechanics becoming tedious to the point of annoyance? mmmm, not sure how you do that. there has to be a sea change in what games are before the answer becomes apparent.


Since my pigtails and I are drawn exclusively to hyper unreal fantasy worlds, I am gonna say that I prefer those over to sim MO’s pretty much any day. o.O