Train Simulator makes sense. People have always liked model train sets, train simulator is a model train set that doesn’t require an entire room of your house. Harvest Moon makes sense. Having a farm in an industrialized world is quite difficult, there are few farmers left and you must be very good at farming (and probably a megacorporation running a megafarm) to make it work. Roller Coaster Tycoon makes sense. Operating a theme park requires such a spectacularly large amount of money that most people will never even get to try and wouldn’t be inclined to bet ten million dollars on it if they had that kind of money, as opposed to just taking the money and retiring. The Sims makes sense. In the Sims, having a nice house full of nice things, making friends with all the coolest people in town, and becoming phenomenally successful in a glamorous career are all just a matter of time.
But a new phenomenon has emerged lately. Truck Simulator. House Flipper. Mechanic Simulator. PC Building Simulator. None of these are the kinds of things that would be perpetually out of reach for the average middle class person. Indeed, most of these things are just being a middle class person. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but I notice that there’s a growing sub-genre of video games where the fantasy is having a job.