Game Dev Story is a frighteningly addictive game. It has a fairly ugly interface which hasn’t been scaled or optimised for iOS devices and relies heavily on the imagination and creativity of the player for much of the entertainment on offer. It is utterly absorbing and hilarious, going way beyond what would be required to simply overcome the basic handicaps of its appearance.
The fundamental premise is that you are managing your own games company, developing, promoting and marketing videogames. So who would want to play a game like that? Well, most videogamers probably would, so that’s a pretty astute example of audience targeting right there.
As well as the game development and moneymaking, you have to employ and improve staff members. Although you can hire and fire mostly at will, there’s no option to replace your entire workforce of highly skilled and loyal employees with a bunch of polite yet incomprehensible foreigners. Chief Execs of financial institutions, take note – this game will show you the way to run your IT department properly.
Much of the hilarity and entertainment stems from the ability to name your company and all its software releases however you see fit. If you happen to have a friend or two playing the game at the same time you will find yourself sending them text messages containing the name of your latest game and then LOLing in response to their own text messaged efforts. It happens, trust me.
It’s particularly satisfying when one of your poorly titled games gets high critical praise and goes on to win several awards at the annual award show. Despite the fact that “there is no game”, you find yourself cheering on non-existent releases such as “Chainsaw Enema” and “Eunuch Ninja”, often fantasising about what the game would actually look like … if it was real. Incredibly sad, I know, and again not something to discuss at the bar if you are hoping to get anywhere with the barmaid.
I spent many, many hours on this game, taking several stupidly named companies to the top, and beyond. Getting hopelessly addicted to GDS is easy; all you need to do is start playing it. If you’re lucky, a few weeks later you might be able to suddenly drop it and move on.