The Video Game For Armchair Auto Execs Is Coming
Not long ago, I considered asking the Best and Brightest if something like this were possible. You see, when I was a younger man, I was a big fan of the game Aerobiz, a tough, take-no-prisoners Super Nintendo simulation of the (Cold War-era) airline business. Since I’ve been immersed in the world of the car business, I’ve often wondered if it were possible to create a game that similarly captured the challenges of running a car company. And now, it seems, that game is already in development by a couple of coder car nerds from Australia. Called “ Automation,” the game is still a ways from completion and its creators are soliciting pre-orders to help fund development (sound like any car startups you can think of?).
I’m not 100% convinced that this game will be able to simulate the incredible complexity of a car market, let alone the near-infinite tasks of serving it, but it’s the best attempt at such a game I’ve heard of. And because its creators “just wanted a game like this to play,” I’m optimistic about the outcome. And I figure, if anyone else shares my enthusiasm for this kind of video game, it’s my fellow armchair auto execs here at TTAC. So check it out, and if you share my enthusiasm, plunk down for a pre-order. Or better yet, drop me an email at our contact form and we’ll look into pooling resources and getting the game branded as “TTAC’s Automation.” After all, if you’re a big enough car nerd to want to simulate running your own car company, chances are you’re already a TTAC reader…
Holy sh- ... I'LL TAKE FIVE.
One of the problems with these kinds of 'Sim' games is that they tend to be narrow and one-sided in setting out the goals and parameters as to what counts as 'winning' or success. For it is very often that case that not only are there multiple measures of success in such things (e.g., maximizing profit, contributing to the general welfare and progress of society, living a good life, and so on), but there are also often many ways of achieving a single objective or goal, i.e. there is often more than one way of doing something well (e.g. as is well-illustrated in the multitude and diversity of successful strategies and goals that we can find in the biological evolution of species, types, and so on). It's a potentially interesting project, however, and I'll be curious to see how well it achieves its own particular goals.
The value of such a game depends heavily upon its assumptions. You can get all of the technical whiz-bang right but create a boring game if it merely reproduces the conventional wisdom about auto manufacturing. For example, is one underlying assumption "get big or get out"? Do you have to bust the union to maintain profitability? Do four- or even three-year restylings maximize sales? Do new plants only pencil out with massive governmental subsidies? Does styling and performance trump reliability? To my mind the biggest problem with the American auto industry has been a cloying conformity. A game that rewards thinking outside the box might be a means of retraining all those conformist execs -- and automotive journalists.
I'm pretty sure they play around with all those parameters in the various "markets" within the game. The video of the car-building process is incredible. Everything from conrod thickness and stroke to block construction is covered. All cost-indexed. It's a very ambitious project... I'm thinking of placing my pre-order, whether or not it eventually gets published...