When we play a video game, we’re doing it for the escapism. No one wants to play Desk Clerk Adventure 2012: A Problem with Calendars or Call Centre 3, but most games contain a job that appears in the real world. Unless you’re playing one of the endless Simulator games even the most standard job will be exaggerated to look awesome in the video game world, hell Half Life managed to make a theoretical scientist look like a bad ass. While most theoretical scientists are running complex mathematical equations, Gordon Freeman PhD. is running around simultaneously preventing an alien invasion, rescuing his colleagues and messing up a military task force. Join us as we check out ten examples of jobs in video games that are made to look ever so slightly cooler than their IRL counterparts.
Spoiler alert: Here be them.
Final Fantasy VIII
Headmaster Cid of Final Fantasy VIII founds a school after his wife tells him that she met a boy from the future, who studied at an academy, that trained him to defeat witches, something which we can only assume has been the justification for a number of UK free schools, recently. On the face of it headmaster Cid’s job isn’t all that different from an IRL headmaster. He has to staff his academy, arrange gardeners for all that plant life and most of all, deal with uppity financiers. Given his reasons for founding it, it’s unsurprising most potential funding sources weren’t interested in sinking their investments into a school that supposedly trains time travelling witch hunters. As a result, like most schools we know, Cid’s ‘Garden’ was massively under-funded. But where most head teachers host raffles or sponsored fun runs, Cid’s backers decide it would be great idea to hire the students out as mercenaries.
Figuring that mercenary work ties quite nicely in with the training children and teenagers skills that might one day, possibly be used to fight a sorceress, Cid agrees. Where the main concern of modern headmasters are decent A level results, Cid negotiates fees for his school of guns for hire while working the missions into the school curriculum. The idea of vocational learning is one adopted by numerous real schools to teach a skill or trade, yet we still have yet to see children being handed guns and swords in preparation for their career in the military. Better yet we have yet to see children being prepared for a career in the military to the exception of every other subject or discipline. And that’s the kicker, not only are these kids being taught how to pick up a weapon and cast magic, they’re actually being solely taught this. There is no English Lit, no Maths, no Sciences etc, none of the normal subjects you’d find in a school. Assumedly there is much continued work for mercenaries in the world of FFVIII, because once that sorceress is dead there are going to be a lot of jobless kids who can’t add up or write their names. Which is actually not all that different from a lot of school leavers in the West.
Super Mario presents an unrealistic view of being a plumber, that’s a given. But it also presents an unrealistic view of being a plumber high off his face on shrooms. Mario contends with evil turtles, pipes that transport you to rooms filled with gold and ultimately wins the heart of fair princess, while the closest a real plumber gets to a turtle is possibly finding one stuck in a pipe, they might find a room filled with riches but unless they’re particularly dishonest they probably won’t touch it, though they do at least always get the girl. As far as we know any time a plumber gets a call out he can expect some sultry housewife to be waiting for him, ready to fix him more than just a cup of tea and a ploughmans lunch, if you know what I mean, oi oi, wink wink. But then we at WASDuk don’t actually know any plumbers IRL so were forced to consult the next best thing: second rate porn films, but we’re pretty sure Plumbers on the Job wouldn’t lie.
Apparently though, Super Mario was supposed to take place in the far more realistic vista of the New York sewers. An 80s Arcade version of Mario Bros has the plumbing brothers defend the streets of New York from the creatures that spew forth from below. Of course if horror/disaster movies have taught us anything (why yes, we do get all of our ideas of the world from movies rather than leaving the house, thank you very much) it’s that nobody would be called in to deal with such creatures, instead they would be allowed to run rampage over the city only to drop dead at the first morning light, so surprised were they when confronted with that most mortal of enemies; the sun.
#8 Gym leader
To be a gym leader in Kanto, Johto, The Orange Islands etc etc ad infinitum, is to be among the finest Pokemon trainers in the land. So much so that your entire purpose is for people to come and test their battling prowess against yours, bed and board included and you can decorate how you like. Trainers in awe of your skill flock to your gym to train in your mere presence, so inspiring are you. The mere utterance of your name is enough to elicit hushed tones and audible gasps from the adoring public, all of whom have heard of you, of course. Although, we’ll be honest, we at WASDuk have often wondered why there was such kudos placed upon people whose job in life was to lose to other, less talented people.
Gym leaders of the real world have a far less glamorous role. Duties range from sitting on the front desk checking people in and out, maintaining fitness equipment and having to clean the machines and changing rooms because that sweat won’t mop up itself. Most gym workers are as buff as Schwarzenegger’s left bicep, as they can access the equipment for free and have the relevant interest to actually use it. But physical fitness is not a requirement of the IRL gym leader, especially if the remit of said leader is purely to check people in and occasionally fabreze the changing rooms, so they aren’t held to some higher standard demanding standard gym users to a bench off to prove their superior fitness.
#7 Taxi Driver
The world of Crazy Taxi and that of the everyday taxi driver are not all that different. In both cases the primary objective is to transport the passenger to their chosen destination as quickly as possible. However with some key differences. The keyword is ‘safety’. Crazy Taxi is like a simulator for what every taxi driver wishes they could do. While the Crazy Taxi driver can drive at whatever speeds they like, take whatever route they want and if they want to drive sideways on the sidewalk then whatever, go mad. The passengers don’t care, as long as they get where they need to go they’re quite happy to take short cuts by jumping from the side of dual carriageways.
Real life of course throws a bummer on the life of a mad taxi driver. Taken from a job description of a real life taxi job; “They will be expected to transport the passenger in a safe manner but they will also be required to travel as quickly as possible without breaking the law or making the journey dangerous.” Well where’s the fun in that? In Crazy Taxi if your passenger thinks you’re taking too long they will simply throw themselves from the car whether it’s moving or not, whereas in real life you’re more likely to just get an earful of abuse and cheated out of a cab fare.
#6 Defence Lawyer
Lawyers have a rough deal in the world of Phoenix Wright. The legal system is overhauled so that the whole due process takes place over just three court sessions, during which the lawyers have present their entire case. On top of that they also visit crime scenes and secure evidence, rather negating the need for a police force, because acquiring evidence is also part of the job description. We can only assume that in the world of Pheonix Wright, lawyers have also developed the enviable ability of not needing any sleep for all the work they’re expected to cram into such a short amount of time.
What is missing however is the paper work. The endless fucking paper work. Yes you get to stand up in court and be the smug git who pokes holes in testimonies and yes you get to feel like a fucking hero when you get to jump to your feet and shout objection! (Like you don’t). But feeling like a bad ass comes at a price and in this instance that price is paper work. A lawyers case has to be pretty damned water tight and that involves a lot of research. There’s research into the specifics of the crime itself, researching every possible counter argument the opposition can throw at you and then researching counter arguments for the counter arguments. There’s researching the law and all the possible permutations of it. You have to research medical/forensic/ballistic/whatever arguments and then find an expert witness top confirm that you haven’t basically just copy pasta’d from wiki. But above all you have to research precedent which involves looking up every similar legal case in your country’s legal history. So its not really surprising that most people hire a team of lawyers, hell for complicated cases you’d need a team of lawyers just to translate the research to a team of lawyers.
#5 Test Subject
If anything was going to produce an army of super powered humans it would be medical trials and yet, even though medical experimentation on humans is rife, the number of people running around with mad powers is disappointingly low. The Galerians develop telekinetic powers after being forced into medical experimentation by an Artificial Intelligence who, surprise surprise, wonders why it needs to obey its human creators, you know like every AI in anything ever. Most of these teenage test subjects go batshit insane. They develop incredibly strong psychic powers but they also develop sadistic, murderous personality traits which leave them cursing their very existence. Thinking about it, perhaps it’s a good thing we don’t have psyched up super monsters running around the streets causing people to burst into flames with their minds.
Contemporary medical trials are far less interesting. For a start there are so many people lining up to make an extra buck outside of their day jobs, shady scientists don’t need to kidnap orphans or homeless people from alleys for a life of experimentation. That said medical experimentation these days has less to do with injecting crazy chemicals and more to do with finding a more effective face cream for soothing eczema. So far the number of volunteers who have developed super powers from testing new moisturising lotion is nil and probably a good thing too, because that is a really lame origin story and their arch nemesis would be doomed to simply have bad skin.
#4 Mad Scientist
Dr Neo Cortex is the main antagonist of the Crash Bandicoot universe having created the titular character through a series of genetic experiments on animals designed to create an army of mutated creatures. Crash is then rejected for being unworthy of this army even though he has a penchant for repeatedly thwarting Cortex and his evil schemes. Not limited to simple animal genetic manipulation Cortex also dabbles with time machines, space stations and super weapons, the usual general mad scientist fare.
For some reason most of our IRL scientists are decent sorts dedicated to the advancement of the human race and that’s why we don’t have death rays aimed at us from the moon or super strong ladybirds trying to enslave our population to mine sugar in Tanzania. Instead modern scientists seem to be majorly concerned with advances in robotics (without creating AI – we all know how that will work out) or trying to create a black hole that hopefully won’t blink us out of existence underground in Switzerland. Meanwhile those who work with animal testing are mostly trying to figure out which colour of foundation looks best on a pig or whether a kitten can carry off L’oreal’s water based, mineral containing , red coloured, wax, lip enhancing substance number 8. Needless to say those kittens are not out for revenge however angry they are that they are more suited to shades of pink. And they don’t have to be, for the IRL scientists have an enemy far more terrifying than an angry marsupial roided up on weird totally not apples; PETA.
Taking their cues from Indiana Jones, the Tomb Raider and Uncharted series’ present archaeologists as athletic superstars, leaping from building to building, rappelling their way into temples, shooting at enemy soldiers hellbent on ruining your career etc etc. I defy any young teen to play Tomb Raider or Uncharted and not think, ‘holy shit I want to be an archaeologist, that shit looks whack,’ (which is how we assume youths to speak nowadays with their hip and their hop).
Of course the reality involves far less athleticism, abseiling and even less guns. Archaeologists who work in the field do have very exciting jobs, but it’s a special kind of exciting that will only get your blood pumping if you enjoy being crouched in the sand for hours, meticulously excavating items with a toothbrush followed by the joys of properly cataloguing them. There is very little physical danger or excitement to be gained, unless you’re a history buff in which case it’s like Christmas come early. But that’s if you’re fortunate enough to get into the field. A lot of archaeology is done from a computer in an office, comparing land surveys and elevation levels to determine the best areas in which to dig. And digs rarely yield anything worthy of the public fascination, skeletons of long dead kings under car parks notwithstanding most digs yield common everyday items such as coins, bowls and let’s not forget the marvel of crockery. As fascinating as a medieval arrow head is, archaeological finds are usually fairly commonplace and we have a distinct lack of diggers coming forward having found cursed treasure. If an archaeologist was dropped into the world of Tomb Raider or Uncharted, it would take years to properly investigate the temple/tomb/whatever, and all those pots Lara insists on smashing open with her foot would all be painstakingly cleaned, tagged and sold to museums before they’d even consider looking for the Eye of Indra, Thor’s Hammer or insert mythological object of great value and worth here.
#2 Catholic Priest
Father James O’ Flaherty is a bishop and exorcist within the Catholic church who appears in the game Koudelka after being dispatched by the Vatican to recover a manuscript which contains, amongst other things, secrets of necromancy, something the Pope would rather not have in the public domain apparently. James is a pretty good example of an all rounded character, in game he exhibits a great deal of character development which results in him ultimately sacrificing himself to kill a monster and save his companions. As a priest, he is part of a secret mission that involves him squaring off against monsters, tangling with necromancy and ultimately kicking ass with the power of prayer. He also uses a lot of magic.
Of course in real life, some priests must have it just that awesome as the Catholic church does indeed believe in exorcisms, a proficiency in which is the very reason James was chosen to complete this particular mission. The Catholic church also believes in necromancy, though maybe not to the extent of actual, physical reanimation. So is James a fairly believable albeit exaggerated example of an actual priest in a video game? No. Because he uses magic, and most Catholic priests can’t bring themselves to read Harry Potter let alone learn how to use actual magic to improve their actual stats. Seriously guys? You have priests exorcising actual ‘demons’ from people and areas practising benedicaria (positive folk magic) but “actual” magic is occultism and should be condemned in all its forms.
But apart from that James is actually pretty realistic as a bishop. If nothing else; “he is cold and shallow believeing that those who are poor or different deserved what they got and cares for nothing of them.” Bam. Topical!
#1 Water Polo Player
Final Fantasy X
The world of Spira is threatened by the ever present Sin, a being of immense power that strikes without warning and decimates cities, towns and villages with considerable cost of life. Initially created to destroy any city that became too large or relied to heavily on machines, Sin quickly becomes a monster and loses its ability to distinguish small villages from massive cities and so opts to just destroy them all indiscriminately. An constant and unwavering threat, the people of Spira turn to their one means of escapism to bring some joy into their otherwise terrified lives; water polo.
That’s right. While disaster potentially looms at every shore, the people of Spira flock to huge amphitheatres where they can watch water polo games and forget that their lives are in constant danger from a giant whale with a low tolerance for building code violations. Of course Spira is a fantasy world so their version of water polo is slightly fantastical, the players play under water, holding their breath for excessive periods of time and they can utilise poison, chloroform and invisibility to keep possession of the ball. Whereas our IRL water polo players are limited by ethics and human biology and so can’t indulge in techniques nearly as exciting as incapacitating up to three other players by throwing a ball at them.
For Spira blitzball players are the height of celebrity, as to how this compares to the real world; name us a water polo player. Go on. We dare you.