When faced with an exhausting day, the last thing anyone wants to do is housework. However, an emerging trend in video games is changing the perception of these mundane tasks. Games like ‘Untitled Goose Game’ and ‘The Sims’ have successfully transformed household chores into entertainment and art. In this article, we will explore four inventive Australian video games that allow players to engage in household tasks that are often repetitive or unpleasant in real life but become entertaining and relaxing in the virtual world.
One of the games that exemplifies this trend is ‘Moving Out’ and its sequel, ‘Moving Out 2’. Developed by Australian and Swedish studios, this game puts players in the shoes of removalists with a time limit to move objects such as fridges, beds, and sofas out of homes. What sets ‘Moving Out’ apart is its athletic approach to removals. Players navigate through obstacle courses filled with challenges like animals, swimming pools, and even ghosts. Haunted houses and space stations become the settings for furniture-shifting adventures. The game effortlessly combines realism with the unreal, injecting a sense of excitement into what would otherwise be a monotonous task. In this fantasy world, players can break windows and throw objects instead of using stairs, offering a cathartic alternative to the everyday grind of moving.
Another game that immerses players in domestic tasks is ‘Unpacking,’ a game self-described as a ‘zen puzzle game.’ In this game, players explore someone’s life through multiple removals, sorting their possessions along the way. The pixel art style adds an air of mystery, making book covers and journal entries unreadable, leaving players to imagine the occupant’s backstory. ‘Unpacking’ allows us to escape our own lives and explore the lives of others. The banal task of unpacking becomes a journey of discovery through unexpected environments, offering a unique and meditative gaming experience.
Florence: Organizing Lives and Spaces
‘Florence’ takes a different approach to domestic tasks by focusing on limited storage space for objects like kitchen utensils, clothing, and books. Created by the lead designer of ‘Monument Valley,’ this game delves into the intricacies of merging lives as Florence’s partner moves in. Through the act of finding space for their possessions, players discover the differences between the couple. Similar to ‘Unpacking,’ ‘Florence’ offers a familiar domestic setting with an unfamiliar narrative; the couple’s conversations are represented by blank speech bubbles, leaving players to piece together their story through the act of organizing their belongings. By engaging in these tasks, players become active participants in exploring the dynamics of relationships.
‘Rumu’ takes a futuristic twist by casting players as a robot vacuum cleaner tasked with cleaning and tidying up spills and clothing, all while unravelling the mystery behind the house’s owners. This game stands out with its portrayal of a futuristic home where the AI home assistant experiences emotional problems. The house functions as a puzzle, revealing hidden gadgets and secrets that players must navigate. ‘Rumu’ seamlessly blends the surreal with the everyday, creating an eerie and captivating atmosphere. The game challenges players to view mundane tasks through a different lens, pushing the boundaries of what we consider ordinary.
Not only do these games offer an innovative approach to household tasks, but they also challenge traditional gender roles and societal norms. Women, who typically spend more time on unpaid work than men, make up nearly half of video game players in Australia. These games provide an avenue for players to choose avatars of various genders and species or control characters with both masculine and feminine traits. By linking domestic labor to fantasy and adventure, players are encouraged to reimagine everyday life as extraordinary and ordinary places as magical. These games serve as a subtle yet powerful tool in reshaping our perspectives on gender, work, and domesticity.
The rise of Australian video games that turn household chores into entertainment speaks to the power of creativity and innovation within the gaming industry. By transforming repetitive or unpleasant tasks into exciting and fulfilling experiences, these games offer players a newfound appreciation for the mundane. They challenge us to see the extraordinary within the everyday and reimagine our relationship with domesticity. As the popularity of such games continues to grow, we can expect more exciting and inventive experiences that blur the lines between reality and fantasy.