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‘Job Simulator 2050’ Is the Best Thing I’ve Ever Done in Virtual Reality

Finally, you can smash things in an office without being referred to HR.
April 11, 2016, 4:50pm
Image: Owlchemy Labs

I'm not a particularly violent person, and I love my job, but every now and then I feel like chucking my laptop through our office window would be pretty cathartic.

I don't do it, of course, because we're living in a society, dammit. But for the first time, I feel like virtual reality has allowed me to temporarily leave that society.

Job Simulator 2050, is a VR game that takes place in a future in which relatively benevolent robots have more or less enslaved humans. Humans are hardwired to work ultra mundane jobs, and the robots have designed simulations built around working an office job, being an auto mechanic, working in a kitchen, or manning a convenience store.

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I don't know what it says about me that when I went to a recent preview of Playstation VR, I bolted past major releases like DriveClub, Rigs, and EVE: Valkyrie to play Job Simulator, which is specifically designed to be mundane. But I did, and I'm glad—being an office worker is by far the best thing I've ever done in VR.

Within seconds, I was using Sony's Play controllers to pick up and chuck full coffee cups at empty cubicles, gorge myself on donuts, and take swings at my robot bosses.

"I think in our case it's more of a joke in that people think of VR as a simulator experience," Andrew Eiche, a developer at Owlchemy Labs, told me. "We thought, what's the funniest most mundane experience we can make? And it's a job simulator, but really we've gone kind of off the wall into a weird area where robots have taken over and they're showing you what it's like to job."

I have little interest in the new wave of goat and farming and big-rig-truck and Ikea-furniture simulators, but I think my genuine interest in evaluating how working in VR compared to working in real life drew me to the game.

They don't get it exactly right, of course. The game has the sense of humor of Portal and I don't think I actually got much "work" done as my robot overlords taught me how to login to a computer terminal and fire employees using a giant rubber stamp.

But the genuine catharsis I got from physically moving around the office and destroying stuff is something you can't get by using a controller and a TV, and the conceit is simple enough that I actually did feel like I was in an office.

When it launches on PS VR (it's already out on Rift and Vive), the game will have about four hours of "guided content." But there are tentative plans to have some competitive simulation in the future.

"We've begun speed running at the office," Eiche said. "I think competitive work simulation is the inevitable future for this kind of game."

So maybe breaking stuff in a relatively familiar setting is the near-term future of VR. I played those other, more hyped games and they were great too. But I left them feeling like I was staring at a giant screen a few inches from my face. With Job Simulator, I felt like I was actually there. And that's the point, right?