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"PowerWash Simulator." Photo: FuturLab

"PowerWash Simulator," (exactly what it sounds like) is the latest example of life's mundane tasks becoming sensational when turned into a video game.

Why it matters: Gaming is as broad an art form as there is, so those who only think they involve shooting, jumping, driving or matching gems are missing out.

"PowerWash Simulator" comes from FuturLab, a quirky U.K. studio that wanted to tap into the lucrative first-person gaming format, but didn't quite have the resources to make their own "Call of Duty" or "Fortnite."

  • In 2019, inspired by footage on a subreddit called r/powerwashingporn, the studio began building a first-person game in which you spray and wash dirty things.
  • A playful public demo was a hit and has blossomed into an early access PC game that can be purchased and played as the developers flesh it out.

In the game, players use a variety of nozzles to spray down dirty motorbikes, cars, and even a Mars rover. (Watch the trailer.)

  • It eschews standard gaming tropes like enemies or obstacles, making it a sort of "anti-game," lead designer Dan Chequer told Axios.
  • "This is purely about the zen experience of washing."

Between the lines: Part of a game designer's job is to turn real or fantastical things into systems, creating algorithms to simulate the spread of religion in "Civilization," for example.

  • For the "PowerWash" people, they needed a dirt system.
  • Their answer: seven types of dirt, any three of which can be applied to the filthy things players must clean.
  • Game design, alas, is about working within constraints: "We had more dirts that we wanted to use," Chequer said.

The big picture: “Simulator” games are a remarkable subgenre that range from the serious to the absurd in both topic and execution.

  • Games such as “Surgeon Simulator” are parody, while “Farming Simulator” harvests it straight.
  • “My scale goes from ‘Goat’ to ‘Train,’ Futurlab’s Toby Adam-Smith said, citing two other simulator games that bookend the seriousness scale.
  • For this one, on a 10-point scale, the developers are aiming for a six: realistic equipment types, fantastical levels of cleaning power.

What's next: The developers want to add multiplayer competitive and cooperative cleaning and expand the game’s story mode.

  • They’re also investigating the ability to include some very famous dirty things in the game.
  • "That would be a wonderful thing to have six people running around cleaning the Millennium Falcon together," producer Adam-Smith said, stressing no such deal has actually been made. "It would be a dream."

Go deeper

Upcoming war video game is about saving lives, not taking them

Screenshot: Brave Lamb Studios

The upcoming video game “War Hospital” is the rare historical war game focused on saving lives, not taking them.

Why it matters: War video games are common and cliche. Not this one.

Video game developers struggle to fix "crunch culture"

Naughty Dog co-presidents Neil Druckmann (left) and Evan Wells. Photo: Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Game developers aired diverging views this weekend about whether encouraging developers to work "passionately" on a game is cover for inducing them to work too much.

Why it matters: Crunch has been accepted as a real, impactful issue within the game industry, but there still isn't a simple fix applicable to the entire sector.

3 hours ago - Sports

Unvaccinated athletes face 21-day quarantine at Beijing Olympics

Logos for the 2022 Winter Olympics at Yanqing Ice Festival in February 2021 in Beijing. Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Athletes, staff members and journalists at the 2022 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus will be required to quarantine for three weeks, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) outlined in its newly-published "playbooks."

Why it matters: The quarantine period is longer than the Games themselves, meaning vaccinations or an earlier arrival date will be required to participate in or cover the Games.