Reviews

'Youtubers Life' Asks: Can You Have Much of a Life as a Content Creator?

What The Sims as a dollhouse game has over Youtubers Life is a more robust Soap Opera generator. A little comedy, a little tragedy goes a long way in enjoying a simulated life.


Youtubers Life

Publisher: U-Play Online
Price: $24.99
Developer: U-Play Online
Release date: 2016-01-26

Crank out content. Crank out content. Crank out content.

Sleep. Eat.

Crank out content. Crank out content. Crank out content.

Sleep. Eat.

Oh, and you should probably network once in awhile.

This is the formula, according to the sim Youtubers Life. It probably isn't far from the reality.

While I don't make videos for the internet, I've been producing content (writing and editing) online for more than ten years, and this is (it feels like) kind of what you do: You keep up as best you can.

Like the classic life sim game, The Sims, the cycle of play of a dollhouse game in which you try to manage a person's life, keep up with their basic needs, while still making time to occasionally to progress some way in your existence as a person (make a little extra money, meet some new people, get a promotion, etc.), this game, too, is a constant effort to balance needs and work, work and needs, eking out progress between cycles of basic survivability.

By contrast to The Sims, the life sim that is Youtubers Life is played within a much smaller frame, a much smaller context. Your character, a person who wants to become a successful Youtuber, largely remains chained to a small living area during most of the game in which you eat, sleep, and most importantly, of course, crank out content for your YouTube channel.

You have the choice of specializing your Youtuber in one of three areas of interest. You can play video games for the entertainment of your YouTube audience, you can teach them how to cook, or you can produce music videos on your channel.

The core of these activities is essentially the same. You need to make an engaging video for your fans. However, depending on your specialty, the kinds of things that you do will be slightly different, resulting in slight deviations of play when advancing your career. Musicians, for example, will sometimes play live for the sake of gaining new followers, playing a mini-rhythm game to represent this activity, or a cook will play a basic version of something like Diner Dash in a similar public display of your prowess.

As far as the game goes, these slight variations on the theme of "simming" the life of a content creator are probably the most enjoyable thing about the game. Starting out a new life as a Youtuber and sampling what kinds of things you need to do in order to be successful at each one, expanding your kitchen and the tools in it, learning new instruments to produce differing musical content and the like leads to a fun cyclical experience of getting a new business off the ground by becoming each of the types of creative content maker or each of the kinds of performer.

I tried out all three avenues for content creation in “Youtube life”, and in each case, I had a great deal of fun playing out my life as a professional gamer or chef or singer/instrumentalist each time -- for the first six to eight hours of each.

However, like The Sims, progression is based on a simple ethic in the game: put in the time. Oh, and juggle a number of very pressing and ever-present needs. Every time that you want to step up in the world to upgrade your equipment or move into a new place or begin to expand your business by involving collaborators, the game requires you to grind pretty hard to make that possible. The early game is kind of fun as you feel out each variation of Youtube life, but then the mid-game turns into a very slow and sloggy grind to just stay ahead.

What The Sims as a dollhouse game has over Youtubers Life is a more robust Soap Opera generator. While The Sims has a similar cyclical and repetitious gameplay loop, managing a household that exists in a larger universe leads to interesting little emergent narratives that interrupt what might otherwise be just a representation of a humdrum middle-class life.

YouTubers Life is not without a social component, of course. You do need to network at times, which gets you briefly out of the house, by going to the movies or attending parties. Still, though, the social aspects of the game are largely practical and mechanical (you need to do this to gain new followers and friends as well as potential collaborators). As a result, no real drama or tragedy or comedy emerges from these mechanized moments as they would in The Sims, which is what makes the grind of that game bearable.

YouTubers Life isn't a bad game, per se. It's often exciting and amusing to get each life started producing the most interesting content that you can for an unknown audience, but then the work sets in. The grind of content creation replaces the pleasures of "simmed" creativity and, well, at that point you don't feel -- despite all your effort -- that you have much of a life at all.

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