Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Games people don't play

It may not have escaped the attention of those of you possessing antennae tuned to popular culture that there exists a phenomenon called FIFA Manager.  For those not so calibrated, let me inform you that this is a series of electronic games which have modelled and reproduced the experience of managing a football team, and that such is the level of detail and accuracy that has been accreted to the product as the years have passed, that it is now possible to incur several forms of stress-related illness while playing the game, all of which are recognised by the medical establishment as legitimate reasons for being unable to work and receiving full sick pay.

This has naturally caused me to puzzle over why, among the plethora of scenarios and settings against which console games are placed, the world of publishing and books is not present.  Where is Librarian's Creed IV, for example, or Grand Copyright Theft VI (in which a band of plucky literary agents plunge themselves into the murky and dangerous underworld of pirated texts).  My latest cast-iron, guaranteed fortune-earner, is, therefore, Independent Bookshop Manager (I), soon to be available on the Y-Cube, Joy Platform and in many other formats.  Among other features, the game will:

  • Allocate you a budget to divide between overheads, stock and staff - (do you pay out big money for the brilliant but unpredictable Senior Bookseller who will either earn you a fortune with their mercurial sales technique and encyclopedic literary knowledge, or will alienate your customers by staring haughtily at anyone who asks for insufficiently- challenging books?)
  • Present you with tantalisingly fiendish puzzles - (can you solve The Christmas Rota without causing most of your staff to feel disaffected and exploited; is your mind prepared for balancing reductions from the recommended retail price against gross profit margins?)
  • Require you to predict the surprise seasonal best-sellers - (will it be the autobiography of the three-legged juggling cat, or the compendium of obscure facts about medieval armour-polishing?  The wrong choice could see sales plummet and the January sale tables tortured by tottering piles of un-returnable, ruinously-reduced stock)

Also featured will be pseudo-randomly-generated events, which will challenge your mental agility and literary awareness:

  • A local author arrives unannounced offering stock of their books - are they a nuisance peddling a badly-photocopied and stapled guide to their own kitchen, or do they offer an undiscovered jewel of local history?
  • Thanks to an obscure satellite TV channel, Macrame suddenly seizes hold of the popular imagination: do you order in every book you can obtain on the subject, at minimal discount from obscure publishers, or decide it's a temporary phenomenon and remain loyal to baking?

All this and more, including a special Battle Extension Module, in which you go to war against a new branch of a national chain, will enable the feeling that YOU are at the helm of that glorious but precarious vessel that is The Independent Bookshop.

***** Special offer on pre-orders for Christmas 2014 *****

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