The Cambridge Geek

House Flipper

I blame playing this one entirely on Twitter. Too many people were recommending it to others, and so I just had to try it and see.

The game is a first person paint-em-up, in which you can either work in the construction industry performing jobs for hire, or buy houses (in various states of disrepair) in order to improve them and hopefully sell them on for a profit. So the game frequently involves some impressively grim places.

Takes me back to my university days.

Your toolbelt contains a multitude of useful devices, designed to carefully paint, clean, demolish, tile, grout and build. You've got access to an exciting shop facility, which will let you buy paint in a few dozen colours as well as giving you the ability to purchase a range of fixtures and fittings in order to accessorise to your heart's content.

And the fun doesn't even stop there. Along with the main building aspects and the tidying up afterwards, it also contains a couple of minigames. The first of these is window cleaning, where man and sponge battle against waves of dirt in order to return sight to those poor devils trapped indoors. (I say waves. It's more of a greasy film.) And the second, and more challenging, is the cockroach removal, with a powerful vacuum cleaner. That one doesn't suck.

Once you've bought a bit of furniture, so begins the difficult task of assembling it, which means plumbing everything in, maybe screwing a couple of bolts down and the ever important tightening your nuts.

Thrills, chills and (hopefully no) spills.

The major appeal of the game is that it gives you the satisfaction of performing something that we're trained by society to value, the practice of "doing things up", without any of the hard work involved in actually doing it. Painting is achieved with a simple click, and you don't even need to move any furniture. Tiling is even worse, because you can do an entire floor with a simple drawing of a square. That simple completion effect is vaguely addictive, as you get into a cycle of doing relatively easy work, gaining money and activating your dopamine pathways as you get closer to buying a house for the full thrill of being a property owner. Plus you get to hit things with hammers.

Massively relaxing.

So, the dark parts. Firstly, house prices. I can apparently buy a house for 25,000 (currency of choice), as long as I'm prepared to do a bit of tidying up. This game is effectively taunting all those of us who are subsisting on nothing but avocado toast as we attempt to save deposits which are larger than what you need in this game to buy a house outright. It's just cruel.

And it's also satisfying initially, but takes an increasing return to gain the same effect, while feeling more and more repetitive. Worryingly similar to Wheatley's little problem. The boring doesn't wear off though, or at least it didn't for me. The escapism wears off too quickly to allow that finishing of a meaningless task to ping the brain's pleasure pathways for too long. Also, the painting really sucks. Even when you upgrade your skills.

If you're a fan of things like the truck driving simulator, this might be similar enough to keep your attention for a while. If you're more of a twitchy trigger junkie though, you might find yourself not getting more than a couple of hours out of it.

Score 3

Tagged: Game Employment simulator 3D Easy difficulty PC