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How Christmas Shopper Simulator Ruined Christmas

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Game has released a free download game called Christmas Shopper Simulator. From the description it’s intended as a marketing effort poking fun at the year’s crop of gimmicky, niche and weird simulator projects. Alice downloaded it and challenged Pip to play too. Usually at some point in this paragraph we would have linked to the game but it was awful and we really don’t want to.

Pip: Alice, here’s a question. If you were to indulge in a spot of winky in-jokey marketing for your gaming #brand would you…

a) realise that perhaps this is all a terrible idea and back slowly away
b) try and do it properly and if the thing is good release that
c) release something that makes it seem like you don’t understand good games and feel utter contempt towards your customers

Alice: If I were to? Pip, I’ve proven my dedication to running full-force into terrible ideas. So I respect Game greatly for following through with such a clearly awful idea.

Christmas Shopper Simulator is a remarkable display of Game’s self-awareness, either its complete absence or so much that they spiral into self-loathing.

Pip: I wouldn’t normally write about a bad marketing ploy. The universe is full of them and I already have a full time job (Alec hasn’t fired me a single time this week!) But the thing here is that the game Game has produced feels so bizarrely bad and, as I said earlier, contemptuous towards its customers.

For people who might be toying with the idea of playing it, I’ll save them the trouble. It’s a badly made affair where you run around a barely populated shopping centre collecting presents for your nearest and dearest. The presents have that whiff of zany randomness to them, you take your orders from a payphone (lol what’s one of them!!???!!!1!), and you sometimes kick people so you can take their stuff. It’s boring. It’s snide. It’s classist. It relies on poking fun at the recent crop of one-note sims. It’s lazily put together.

Oh, and then there was the bit where you had to shoplift so you could sell your stolen property to Game and also the part where you have to kick an overweight woman until she drops the pair of jeans you want.

Alice: What? There’s a mission for that?

Pip: YOU HAVEN’T EVEN FINISHED IT? Did you trick me into playing the whole dreadful thing while you just wandered off? Get the hell on Skype and boot it up so I can hear you finish it.

*minutes of swearing later*

Alice: Pip, I’m kicking her a lot. I’ve kicked people and it really doesn’t take this long to make them fall over.

*many, many, many mouse clicks later*

There we go!

Pip: Do you think they think they’re being all subversive with that shoplifting mission?

Alice: Well, you know the kids and their Grand Theft Autos…

Pip: Yeah, but Rockstar aren’t trying to run a car dealership as their main business.

The thing is, I’m worried we might accidentally make it sound so bad it’s good. It is not good. It is not entertaining. Neither of us had fun. Nothing was satirised. It was dreadful.

Thing is, I actually had a really positive experience in a Game store recently. I found what I needed easily and then had a really nice chat with the lad behind the counter about what I was buying and gaming in general. Until now that was the experience I had in my head when it came to the Game brand. Now my most recent experience is this. A hateful, snide exercise in trying to ride a zeitgeist. Well done, Game. 10 business points to you.

Alice: Pip, don’t you feel festive now, though?

Pip: You are going to need to mull me a lot of things to repair this damage.

Put the link here, Pip We are still not linking to it.

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Philippa Warr

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