Computer games are the shiz. In addition to providing weeks of entertainment to the exclusion of anything worthwhile in your life, and distracting you from the meaningless void this results in, they can teach you valuable skills and life lessons.
Schools have been using Minecraft as a teaching tool for more than ten years. Rocksmith on the Sony Playstation can teach you how to play a real guitar. And Mohamed Atta’s efficiency with a Boeing 767 attests to the efficacy of Microsoft’s flight simulator series. There are a wealth of burger flipping games which train kids for their future careers if they don’t get off the damn computer and do some homework for a change.
But not everyone wants to be a rock god, or to punish the United States for its imperialist aggression. What if the burger flippers want a change of career? What we’re asking is… are there any management sims to help people who want to become landlords.
The answer is yes. Not many, and certainly none which will prepare you for life as a property owner in the UK.
We did, however, find Beholder. Set in eastern Europe, you play a state-installed landlord in a residential tenement.
The aim of the game is twofold. You must keep your tenants happy, while at the same time pleasing your government employers at the Ministry of Allocation.
If you’ve ever lived in rented accommodation or been involved in property management before, this first aspect will be familiar to you. Half of the apartments are empty, all are in dire need of repair, and unfortunately you don’t have a budget.
Just as the European Union outlawed vacuum cleaners rated above 900W in 2017, the Government in Beholder will arbitrarily outlaw items in the game. This has the effect of making them more valuable. The rationale behind them is varied.
Drug paraphernalia? Understandable. Foreign currency? We’ll see how the economy’s looking after Brexit. Apples? Maybe they’re French apples.
As the landlord, you’re under constant pressure. Fix televisions. Mend furniture. Find tenants. Evict them. Install hidden cameras in apartments. Rat out your tenants to the authorities for having forbidden literature. Help them to escape justice.
It’s a dark game, both visually and thematically, and if you fail one of the tasks given to you by the government, policemen show up and beat you, before taking you away in a van.
But despite the fact the threat constantly held over you, and the never ending to-do list, you as the player, tend to try and help your tenants with their real life problems.
True to life?
How useful is Beholder as a property management training sim for Britain in the 21st century.
While the shadowy faceless graphics and maudlin music do portray everything in a superbly a grim half-light, most of the tasks are day-to-day bread and butter for most landlords in the UK.
Even the government edicts and demands for information aren’t too far from the real world. We’ve already mentioned the EU prohibition on powerful Hoovers. How about the ban on speedy toasters, which was due to come into force last year. And if you fancy a can of real American Mountain Dew, you’ll find it’s banned in the UK too.
Prohibited literature in the UK? If it’s likely to be useful to a terrorist, then yes. Possession of it can land you with a 15 year stretch as the guest of Her Majesty. There’s no definition of what’s likely to be useful either. The Jolly Roger Cookbook? Or a wilderness survival guide? As in the game, it’s arbitrary and dependent on the whims of the current government.
But it’s not like you’re legally obliged to rat out your tenants to the fuzz, surely?
Does your tenant smoke a little pot on the side? The UN says that he’s helping to finance terrorism. Would you dare risk not reporting it?
As an accurate portrayal of the day to day duties of a law-abiding landlord, we’re forced to give Beholder a solid 10/10. It’s also quite a fun time killer.
As an otherwise law-abiding citizen, the author is terrified that after using their new powers to find out what he’s been searching for online, shadowy government agencies are now bugging his house.