A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Job Simulator is a downloadable virtual reality simulation game. Players are given a chance to explore four kinds of jobs: mechanic, chef, office worker, and store clerk. These jobs involve no violence, but players can get up to some minor mischief by doing things such as setting off firecrackers indoors and throwing food around a restaurant. Kids are unlikely to learn much about any of the jobs in question -- the simulations are extremely basic and the tasks easy to learn -- but the game does make having a job seem kind of fun. Parents should be aware, too, that virtual reality equipment makers don't recommend VR experiences for kids under 12 due to the potential impact the technology may have on younger players' physiological development.
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What's it about?
JOB SIMULATOR makes a game out of common jobs by presenting them from the perspective of robots curating a work museum of the future. Players experience what these robots think it was like to be a chef, work in an office, fix cars, and serve as a store clerk in the early 20th century. Thanks to the magic of virtual reality, we see our controllers represented as cartoonish hands that can manipulate a wide range of objects, including a photocopier, cash register, blender, and other items associated with each simulated trade. The museum's robot staff provides a series of discrete tasks for each job. For example, acting as a chef, you'll take orders to make various types of meals, including sandwiches, pizzas, and tea. This requires opening a fridge and cupboard doors, grabbing ingredients, turning on a stove, running water in the sink, and other typical food-preparation chores. But players can also just mess about with what's around them, picking up stuff and manipulating it using their virtual hands. You can try tossing things at the automatons around you or see which sorts of objects qualify as valid recipe ingredients. This isn't explicitly encouraged, but the amusing reactions you'll often get indicate the developers want players to experiment.
Is it any good?
If you don't like the idea of real world work, this virtual version of it probably won't change your mind. After the novelty of being able to precisely interact with virtual versions of everyday objects wears off, all Job Simulator really leaves players with is a series of mundane tasks most people would rather avoid outside of a video game. And if you go to the trouble of, say, making yourself a smoothie in your real-world kitchen, at least you get the reward of tasting and drinking it (or getting paid for making it, if it's for your job). In the game, all you get is confirmation that you did what the game told you to do.
That said, kids who've yet to fill an eight-hour shift in a common job might get a kick out of it. They might not grow bored of going through the motions of basic chores as quickly as adults. Plus, they may find more humor in the robots' skewed perception of how humans lived and worked in the early 20th century (you can do a remarkably bad job of most tasks and still pass them). Indeed, much of the game's fun is supposed to come from simply experimenting with what you can and can't do with everything in reach around you while seeing what the robots will accept as a properly completed task. In the end, though, Job Simulator is another case of an early VR game that -- while a bit amazing in terms of what it lets you do and how it lets you do it -- doesn't really feel like much of a game at all.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about screen time. Without any story chapters or big missions, this game doesn't have many natural break points, so how would you set up time limits?
Families can also talk about what sort of job they might enjoy. Do any of the jobs in Job Simulator seem like they might be fun in the real world? Would you rather do physical work or spend your days on a computer? Do you want a job where you're working as part of a team or dealing with customers or one that has you working alone?