The Exciting Life of a Street Sweeper

I’ve never actually ridden in the street sweeper even though I’ve managed street sweeping operations in the past. But I can certainly imagine what it would be like. Day after day of driving about 10 miles an hour along the edge of every road carefully avoiding parked cars, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Then driving to the dumping facility to unload the day’s collection of debris, washing down the vehicle, and fueling it up for the next day. There’s nothing about that to leads me to believe it would be a riveting, jaw-dropping, white-knuckle ride of fun and excitement. But it is a vital function of our operations.

Street Cleaning Simulator must take the record for worst game ever, right? than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

So I was somewhat amused and perplexed to see this tweet by @praddles leading me to a review of a new game: Street Cleaning Simulator by Excalibur Publishing. Being in the business, it’s interesting to read what others think of the experience, even if they’ve only taken part in it through a simulator. Here’s a link to the review mentioned in the tweet along with a link to a review with a different opinion on the game:

Gamespot UK Street Cleaning Simulator Review

Rock, Paper ShotGun Street-Cleanin’ Man: Street Cleaning Simulator Review

City of LaSalle Street SweeperThe first reviewer seems disappointed that the experience is “boring.” While the second reviewer approached it knowing full well it probably wasn’t the most exciting job in the world. And each individual expectation seems to have driven the reviewer’s opinion of the game. What surprised me was that anyone would think street sweeping was a job filled with action and excitement. Probably the most exciting thing that ever occurred in my 16 years of running the operations was the day the mayor at the time ordered the sweeper, without my knowledge, to come up and sweep the newly laid asphalt road we just paved. I of course did not know of this and had just left the jobsite because all the asphalt was down and the roller was finishing up compacting. I found out about it because the driver of the sweeper called me worried that he was pulling up the asphalt. So of course, I run over there and arrive to a view of the roller still going up and down the asphalt with the sweeper running right behind. You can imagine my reaction and wow do I wish I had a photo of that now! Of course at the time I was too focused on getting that sweeper off the new asphalt to think of taking photos. So I told the sweeper to stop which he was more than happy to do.

Anyway, if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I’m a huge supporter of using games for training. And this game does seem representative of the actual experience. But it brings up the question, do games developed for training have to be exciting and fun to be successful? If not, then perhaps game developers need to do a better job setting up expectations. But if they do have to offer these elements, how can this be done and yet accurately reflect the true experience of the task? And is this an example of why the idea of a back story needs to be better integrated?