Tycoon Games and Questions about Sadism

APRIL ISSUE: POST #3

First of all, I’m going to go down memory lane here, for the sake of, well, for the sake of personal, selfish reasons, because I for one used to (and still do) love the Tycoon games, and I want to talk about them. Of course, some of them we can pretend don’t exist (looking at you, World Basketball Tycoon.)

But, there’s only a certain selection that I grew up with. I wasn’t much of a collector as a kid, and once I had received Rollercoaster Tycoon 2, all I wanted was more of that. I had a strange fascination for park building games, but I did have a few others which I put quite a few hours into. I believe I had a simple Acer laptop, and I installed what I could and would play games on it wherever I could (I remember playing on it backstage once. Don’t even ask).

First of all, let’s me introduce my favourite Tycoon series of all, before moving on to some of the other titles that you may remember too.

Rollercoaster Tycoon 1-3

Developer: Chris Sawyer Productions/Frontier Developments
Release Date: March 1999-2004

still get addicted to these games. The menu music still haunts me as I sleep, but not necessarily in a bad way. I’m not really sure why I loved these games so much as a kid as I actually don’t like amusement parks all that much. I have a very weak stomach and one look at a rollercoaster only confirmed my premonitions that my insides were going to implode if I rode it. So I stayed away. I grew more of a passion for building and managing virtually.

These games are great. The first, second and third anyway. The graphics are cute and the amount of content is outstanding. The little people were fun to pick up and put into the lake- err, I mean, put back onto the path. All safe. (Don’t give me that look, I look after my guests with hospitality and care. I promise.)
I also remember little details, like popping the balloons if some idiot lets go of theirs. Even the birds made noises if you clicked on them. Now how much of that kind of detail is in games nowadays?

You can’t go wrong with a series like this.

Similar games: Theme Park World, Rollercoaster World, Thrillville, Planet Coaster, Parkitect

School Tycoon

Developer: Cat Daddy Games
Release Date: January 2004

Aahh, the famous Cat Daddy Games. For someone who hated school, this was amazing. Honestly, I would build the entire school and then BOOM, there would be a hurricane to tear it all up. It made me happy, and I think I was slightly sadistic.

You manage and build classrooms. You hire teachers. You fire teachers. You stalk the students. You wait for the students to be destroyed. You earn money, only to build more and stalk more, and ultimately wait for utter destruction.

Okay okay. I’m pretty sure that’s not exactly how you’re meant to play the game. But, why else would they implement natural disasters?

Mall Tycoon

Developer: Cat Daddy Games
Release Date: 2002-2005

Specifically, Mall Tycoon 3. Okay, so the graphics really shouldn’t have blown me away. But they did. I remember trying to make the coolest mall for my shoppers and thinking back, it was pretty okay. Simple, but a lot of these types of games were back then. They certainly pleased my non-complex mind as a kid.

So the concept for this one is basic, build a mall and complete the scenarios, oh, and try not to go bankrupt I suppose.

I never actually played the first or second games in the series, I actually didn’t even really realise there were ones before Mall Tycoon 3, despite the number 3. But after reading an article about the series on IGN, they state that 3 is better and has more ‘colour and visual charm’ than the rest. I can trust this, but I’m not sure how many hours I’d put into it now. Maybe if I want to shine some light on my day I’ll whip it off my shelf.

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Zoo Tycoon

Developer: Blue Fang Games
Release Date: October 2001

Okay, but who wouldn’t want to take away a fence and let the lions escape?! Again, I was sadistic.

But this game was my second favourite Tycoon game growing up, right next to Rollercoaster Tycoon 2. Building a zoo instead of a theme park was a nice change, and being able to organise animals such as tigers, crocodiles, and gazelles.

I remember loving the animations of the animals and seeing the little green smiley faces rise from them when you did something good and increase their mood. It made me feel like I was a really nice person (up until I tried to kill everyone, however. So that’s why it’s ‘three times more fun!’)

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Seaworld Tycoon

Developer: Deep Red Games
Release Date: October 2003

This was basically my other Zoo Tycoon, but I played it way less. I don’t really remember too much about it, but I remember it being pretty cool since it was basically Zoo Tycoon but with sea creatures… right? That’s the image that I have in my mind.

Ultimately, a bunch of these games is remembering to do things and keeping in control of your money. I don’t know about you, but I always forgot to put down enough toilets. Then, my guests would complain and I’d build too many. Then I’d go bankrupt. Just because of people’s needs. Ugh.

But seriously, I’d love to install Sea World Tycoon again and give it a shot. Also, is drowning people possible in this game? It always amazes me when the creators actually thought ‘oh, what will happen if one of our consumers tries to put one of the visitors into the depths of the animals swimming pools. I know, we better make something realistic in case somebody wants to do that!’ And here we are.

Ride! Carnival Tycoon

Developer: Gabriel Entertainment
Release Date: 2007

Unlike the rest of the games listed, this is the only one I can’t locate or find at home. The games above are neatly settled on my PC shelf while this game has disappeared into thin air. Well, it might be good riddance. I remember it not really impressing me, even as a young kid. My inner game critic jumped out and told me to stay away. So I did. I haven’t really played it since. But the title of the game gives it away basically, and the premise sounds entertaining.

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The Verdict on being sadistic

So, the big question is, do even the simplest of games affect how we think and make us more inclined to do bad things? Because ultimately, there are no consequences while playing video games. Sure, you might die or kill lots of people or lose a lion in the process, but it’s virtual. So, is it a good or bad thing for 10-year-olds to experience? Does it teach them about death and to accept that bad things can happen? Or is it just a step towards violent thoughts and behavior outside of the gaming world?

Well, I for one am probably the least violent person on the planet. If I try and intimidate someone, it sounds like I’m complimenting them, and don’t even ask me to punch you. You would destroy my hand with your arm without even knowing it.

I think there’s a big difference between sadism and violence in video games. I mean, differentiating between making a Sim drown in a pool and attacking enemies with guns, chainsaws, and cleavers isn’t hard, but they do both ultimately lead to inflicting pain on other things. But, is killing in video games justified? Is it a way to satisfy violent intentions?

There’s clearly a lot you can look into for this. There are thousands if not millions of articles about video games and aggression. I for one don’t think that video games cause aggression 95% of the time, but maybe there is some sort of link. If a kid is already aggressive or has some psychological or emotional concerns, then probably being exposed to violent media isn’t going to help them.

Of course, there are age ratings on games for a reason too, but I for one definitely have seen a lot of young children experiencing games such as GTA and Call of Duty, just because it’s so easy now, even if they just watch it on YouTube. Clearly, each kid is different. The minds of children are still developing and being influenced by media, other people, and their environment, so it’s too much to say that only one of these is the cause of everything.

Hopefully, in this months issue, or in the weeks and months to come, I will become more knowledgeable on this topic. I would like to research and gather some resources and share with you what I find about video games and psychological behaviors. Because it’s hard to say what effect video games do actually have on us, even as fully grown adults.

But one this is for sure, don’t do violent video games kids!

-LDG

All pictures aquired from Steam and Amazon.

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