What are the strangest fantasy worlds

From gray whale to lumberjack: the strangest simulation games

A hero of my childhood is back. At first I didn't recognize him in his video message on YouTube, apparently even inventors of computer games have to age. William Wright now looks like the crumpled big brother of Robert Downey Jr.

Wright released the revolutionary game "Sim City" 30 years ago. You could build roads and houses or factories in it, you could be the mayor of your own city, levy taxes, plan electricity and water supplies, and hire policemen. “Sim City” has shaped and made famous a whole genre: that of simulations. In this type of computer game you don't jump through fantasy worlds in a supermari manner, but try to carry out a certain activity as realistically as possible, which is often denied you in real life. That especially appeals to adults.

"Sim City" inspired hundreds of programmers to create their own simulations. Today the genre is one of the most diverse and successful in the industry. There are crane driving and fire brigade simulations, long-distance bus and lumberjack simulations, bungee jump, towing service and bomb disposal simulations ... Some serve niches that seem bizarre to outsiders. With “Klomanager Deluxe” the operation of a public toilet is ensured, with “Operate Now” it is not so bad if the scalpel slips off. The only goal of the Farm Animal Transporter Truck Simulator is actually to load cows on trailers and move them from one place to another.

Or you can become an animal yourself, in various simulators you can try out yourself as a city pigeon, mouse or goat. Google's Play Store offers three different eagle simulations alone ("Wild Eagle Sim 3D" is the most sophisticated!), The gray whale simulator, including the sound of the sea, proves to be extremely calming.

The more of these games you test, the clearer it becomes: simulations don't have to be realistic. They just have to feel as realistic as possible to the player. Anyone who practices with the "Barber Shop Simulator 3D" every day can therefore not cut their hair for a long time.

The free DB Train Simulator from Deutsche Bahn has already been downloaded 800,000 times. It can be used to travel nine different routes from the perspective of an ICE train driver. Critics complain that a level is considered lost as soon as the train arrives at the destination station even one minute late. Very funny, Deutsche Bahn!

If this small and small is too boring for you, the subgenre of so-called god simulations is recommended. Here you are generally addressed as "Almighty", someone constantly throws himself in the dust in front of you and asks for rain. That flatters the ego, at most it gets boring at some point. Then you punish your people with earthquakes or a plague epidemic, it is certainly deserved.

After his global success “Sim City”, William Wright remained loyal to the genre for a long time, inventing an ant simulator and “The Sims” and finally retired. The new game that Will wants to bring to market over the next few months is to be called "Proxi". In his short video message he announces a simulator of an unprecedented type - in which the player can store memories of his own real life. How exactly this works is still a secret. It could be the game of the year.

This column was published in print in the Sunday magazine of the Tagesspiegel. You can follow him on Twitter at @TSPSonntag.