Is it a game?
When you search “McDonalds Game”, the first search result that pops up is a game made by Molleindustria. According to Molleindustria, this McDonalds game is a anti-advertisement game based on the fast food industry.
Without this knowledge, this game simply does not seem to have any kind of purpose other than cause frustration. The dynamics of the game are very rigid and simple but it can be classified as a game.
According to Bernard Suits, “To play a game is to attempt to achieve a specific state of affairs [prelusory goal], using only means permitted by rules [lusory means], where the rules prohibit use of more efficient in favour of less efficient means [constitutive rules], and where the rules are accepted just because they make possible such activity [lusory attitude]” (Suits 1967, p. 156). Considering this definition of game, this McDonalds game is considered to be a game since there are certain rules you need to follow and theres no way to cheat the game. Nevertheless this game can be considered a game despite whether it is fun or not.
The classification of this game can be seen a simulation of the McDonalds empire since you are simulating as the owner of McDonalds by managing money with selling food and bribing officials to keep the public from outraging. You promote the food industry with advertisements to get more people to purchase more and you purchase land for your crops. Keep that in mind when you see figure 1. Figure 1 is a depiction of the classification of games according to Jesper Juul. As seen, Open-ended simulations are considered games in the sense of a borderline case.
The whole time I played the game, there was not a single inclination that there is an end goal to the game. I believe the main goal is to not go into bankruptcy and last as many years as possible.
The game starts off with a tutorial that explains how the game works and then you start in the year 2000. The simple design requires you to switch between 4 different options that include an agricultural section, feedlot, restaurant and corporates. The purpose of the game is to maintain your empire of fast food chain without going bankrupt. You have to switch between each 4 options whilst changing things in each to earn money. In my first try, I lasted for a pretty good while until the year 2039.
Although I came to the realization that after a while the fertility of the pastures that the cows were in, would slowly degrade and if you didn’t pay attention, they would become infertile and you would be unable to have cows there or any kind of plantation for your cows. After, you’d purchase land around and that made environmentalists angry since you were cutting trees. Since I had skimmed the tutorial, I did not know this information and kept trying to fix these issues. It took a couple of frustrating tried to finally figure out how to keep the land fertile without angering the environmentalists. Even then, other issues would arise that kept me frustrated rather than entertained. For example, some workers in the restaurant would start getting angry and spit in the food, if you didn’t keep them happy the customers would get sick from their spit and blame you. However, if you fired the employees, their union would file a lawsuit on you and you’d lose money and customers. It was an endless cycle of problems and issues that kept happening and kept making the game unpleasant.
A reason that I might’ve not liked this game as much as others can be explained with Ludica. Ludica states that, “Today’s hegemonic game industry has infused both individuals’ and societies’ experiences of games with values and norms that reinforce that industry’s technological, commercial and cultural investments in a particular definition of games and play, creating a cyclical system of supply and demand in which alternate products of play are marginalized and devalued”. I am one of those that can be considered “heavy gamers” and according to Ludica’s quote, I had an unpleasant experience with this game simply because of the game industry trying to supply games that I am demanding which is not simulation games.
In conclusion, according to Jesper Juul and Bernard Suits, this game is a game. To me this game is not fun at all. It is not fun to me because of Ludica’s explanation of the game industry trying to supply games which in turn devalues other games like this one.
Upon further research, I came upon this article that gives you hints for mastering the game. I wish I could’ve found it while I was playing the game so it could’ve been a much more enjoyable experience for me. I strongly believe that once fully understood, the game has potential to be fun.
I give this game 3 cups of fries out of 10.
Fron, J., Fullerton, T., Morie, J. F., & Pearce, C. (2007, September). The hegemony of play. In Situated Play: Proceedings of Digital Games Research Association 2007 Conference. Tokyo, Japan (pp. 1-10).