My gaming tastes certainly run eclectic. From RPGs to Shooters, given even a slight prod I’ll at least take a look. Be that as it may, there are still some games I just don’t get. I don’t get why they exist or why anyone would like them — let alone in some cases, why on earth they are seemingly so ridiculously popular.

Some you might write off as streamer bait, perhaps. A platform for providing entertainment by way of performance. But then there are the likes of Farm Simulator. Power Wash Simulator. Or in this case, House Flipper. You can almost sense the unspoken ‘Simulator’ at the end of that one too, eh? And sure — there is a bit of a theme to the examples I’ve given. Potentially that will make for this being a very short series indeed. Perhaps not though! Perhaps I’ll find other examples as I go along.

What I Thought Before Trying It Myself

This wasn’t even the dirtiest I’ve seen. Not by a long, LONG shot.

I knew the premise of the game of course. To take trashy homes and make them less trashy in order to sell for a profit. Which implied an economic aspect but beyond this, I knew very little indeed.

I imagined that to clean up a space you’d have to pick up and carry trash to a skip bin or something of the sort, throw it in, go back for the next lot. I thought cleaning would be more ‘realistic’ in the sense that you only cleaned the area contacted by your sponge or brush. I figured painting would be similar.

Beyond that?

I just had no idea.

I guess I just thought it would be very finicky and time consuming with very little to otherwise redeem it.

And After?

It’s basic, but I quite like the work done for this room! It was a run down, cracks-in-the-walls, mess of a place before I got started.

So I was wrong on the finicky front — in two ways. The first being that cleaning trash is instant and often a single button press will clean up a cluster of trash. Similarly, cleaning has quite a generous AoE to it — particularly after you’ve upgraded your equipment a bit.

This leads me to the first complete surprise I had. House Flipper has a bit of a progression system to it beyond cash for larger properties. There is a perk system, split across a number of different skill sets such as painting, cleaning, customer negotiations, demolition, etc — where each of these broader categories has three perk trees to go down.

Truth be told, they don’t take very long to max out. With 12-hours in the game, I’ve maxed all three trees in almost every category and closing in on the ones I haven’t.

But hey! Multi-faceted progression! That’s something I can get behind.

The other aspect of it that I’d already expected — money — is certainly present too. And yup, getting that first six-figure profit on a flip is pretty compelling.

Thank you, Jonson family!

I also really enjoyed the fact you aren’t just starting out with rich parents, some form of unrealistic loan, or other means of jumping immediately into the property game. You start out taking contracts for some pretty terrible jobs, unlocking skills as you go, before finally being able to take the plunge with a property of your own.

But you know what?

I’ll let you in on a secret…

None of that is the important stuff.

My artistic talent in this game runs more toward that of a clown car than a modern interior designer. But! Even with that being the case, I’ve picked up a lot from observing how designs in the houses I contract to are executed. Heck, earlier this evening I even found myself looking at exterior resources like this one for ideas.

There is absolutely no in-game incentive for doing so.

A room is defined by its contents with no regard for how well — or not — it is laid out or matches the rest of the design.

If you want to just stack everything in a corner with no regard for clear walkways and paint it the equivalent of multicoloured polka-dots?

You can.

You can even do Christmas decorations!

But there is something oddly satisfying about doing a good job by your own standards. “A job well done is its own reward.” I’m pretty sure someone said that, but either way it certainly seems true in House Flipper.

One of the perk trees I mentioned earlier allows you to lower the overall job completion required to mark it complete and collect some pay from the client. However, I never found myself with any inclination to ever say I was done without being 100% done.

Given just how far down my Humble Choice ranking initially and what I thought of this coming in, I’m surprised by just how much I’ve enjoyed my time with the game. House Flipper’s Overwhelmingly Positive rating on Steam makes a bunch more sense now. Not only that, it might have singlehandedly destroyed the concept of this series — because I have quite an intense need to try out Power Wash Simulator next.

So it’s a bit hard to say I don’t understand the appeal now, eh?

… Although I guess there’s still Farming Simulator. That still looks… beyond my means to understand the fun of at this time. I guess we’ll have to see. ;)


Naithin

Gamer, reader, writer, husband and father of two boys. Former WoW and Gaming blogger, making a return to the fold to share my love of all things looty.

2 Comments

bhagpuss · December 5, 2021 at 9:17 am

My theory is that anything that allows you to attain the sensation that you’ve performed tedious tasks that would take hours, days or weeks in dirty, uncomfortable conditions while actually sitting comfortably in a chair in your sweatpants, drinking a warm beverage and clicking a mouse is goinf to create one heck of an endorphin storm inside a person’s easily-fooled brain. It leaves you with the actual same sensations of satisfaction that you would get from successfully completing a physical task without having to expend any of the effort. I’m pretty sure you could find a willing audience for a simulation of just about any real-world activity on that basis.

Whether that’s a good thing or not is another matter. (It’s also why I believe that the closer VR is able to get to simulating these kinds of activities convincingly with real physical actions, the less popular and successful those kinds of games will be. It’s the disconnect from real physical activity that makes the whole thing work.)

    Naithin · December 5, 2021 at 10:19 am

    There is definitely an element of that. But I think if that’s all there was, I’d have to come down on considering it a bad thing for the risk of resetting the brain’s reward expectations to come far too easily when then actually having to engage in such work.

    Although thinking about it — the likes of Power Wash Simulator may well stop there entirely. … Hmm. Perhaps there is still room to try it out under this series after all and find out!

    But back to House Flipper for the moment, once you get beyond the opening contracts — it becomes a form of artistic expression, as well, where The houses become your canvas.

    The cleaning phase is preparing your space. You can destroy or create interior walls to give yourself a wholly new outline to work with.

    Then, you can literally paint (or instead choose wallpapers, panels or tiles) the colours you see working in the space, and fit furniture ot match.

    I don’t know if that last is a conceit of the game or whether it is actually somewhat common in the US to sell fully furnished (it’s something of a rarity here, sometimes might rent a place in this fashion, but even that not so often) — but I appreciate the inclusion here.

    As it lets you more fully work through to a final state product before releasing it into the world for others to purchase.

    Even though I’m not particularly good at these aspects, I still enjoy them!

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