Is this the real life? Why we love boring simulators

Is this the real life? Why we love boring simulators

9 popular real-life simulators

Microsoft Flight Simulator X, Steam, £20

It’s hard to decide what’s more impressive about FSX – that it’s older than Windows by three full years, or the fact that, nine years after the release of the latest version, it still has one of the most ardent communities of fans, creating add-ons, providing a community of like-minded aviators and, yes, entire virtual airlines.

Train Simulator 2016, Steam, £30

Like trains? Train Simulator 2016 will make or break your hobby. Drive engines across the Cornish Riviera, through the German countryside, and across Wyoming and Philadelphia. TS2016’s four routes include diesel, electric and steam engines, as well as an insane amount of paid-for downloadable content: add it all to your cart in Steam and you’ll inflict £3,342 of damage.

I am Bread, Steam, £10

Comfortably the strangest game in this list, if not the world, I am Bread sees you responsible for the fortunes of a single slice of brown bread, fighting your way across the kitchen and then the outside world, in your quest to become wholemeal’s ultimate form: toast.

Euro Truck Simulator 2, Steam, £15

With 13 lorries from seven officially licensed marques, 16 countries, and the option to build your own trucking empire or simply tool around hauling other people’s cargo, Euro Truck Simulator 2 surprises in terms of its scope, as well as how engaging it is. Trucks can be customised for appearance or performance, and the more experience you gain, the greater the variety of jobs available to you.

Farming Simulator 15, Steam, £20

Part Grand Theft Auto with ploughs, part The Archers, Farming Simulator 15 offers agrarian types 140 different tools and vehicles (but only three kinds of animal), in a large open-world environment that allows you to take your farm from smallholding to multi-acre food conglomerate. Exploitation by supermarkets not modelled.

Football Manager 2016, Steam, £35

A controversial inclusion, given the affection with which FM2016 is viewed by certain of the Alphr staff. Still, for the uninitiated, it’s essentially a spreadsheet with better graphics and famous athletes. You can’t fault it for ambition, though: more or less every squad from 50 countries is included, giving you the chance to take the helm at any team from Woking FC to Bayern Munich.

The Sims 4, thesims.com, £50

Perhaps the ultimate sandbox game: take charge of a household of virtual beings, with responsibility for everything from their career success to their personal hygiene. Our Sims end up curled up on the floor in despair every time; we’re assured by the game’s publicity that other outcomes are possible.

World Ship Simulator, Steam, £11

World Ship Simulator allows you to take on everything from a hovercraft to an oil tanker, as you bob around in a virtual harbour, fishing, tugging bigger boats and so forth. Technically still in beta, last-generation graphics and ponderous gameplay make this one for land-locked sailors only.

Goat Simulator, Steam, £7

What’s it like being a goat? Probably nothing like this, given your furry quadruped’s penchant for explosions, homicide and jetpacks. Still, if you’re looking for an absurd bit of escapism after a virtual long-haul flight, this is it.

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