WARNING: COARSE LANGUAGE
After having been through a few rough years trying to find full-time employment and stable housing, one would think hearing about a “bum simulator” being released later this year would get me a little pissed off.
It does. It irks me that someone is trying to make money off of perpetuating a stereotype that is not only inaccurate but does a disservice to those who, like myself, have lived in a shelter or slept on buses and therefore have some experience about this subject.
While this Steam offering has not been released (it’s scheduled for October 2018), the features of this include….and I shit you not….
- Discovering “your inner bum powers”
- Taming “the infamous city pigeons”
- Solving “the mystery of sewer rat people”
- Learning “the secrets of Alcohol Alchemy”
Had this simulator tried at least to give an accurate portrayal about what it’s like to being homeless (and perhaps sent a part of the game sales made to fund men’s shelters), I would gladly support it.
Has anyone who works at Ragged Games or Playway S.A. ever spent time in a homeless shelter? Chances are they have not, which is why they would attempt to make such an insensitive game.
Before anyone jumps down my throat about referring it as insensitive, how many developers would consider making:
- a rapist simulator
- an addict simulator
- a mass shooter simulator
- a welfare recipient simulator
in the same comedic vein as a bum simulator?
Pretty close to zero. It would be considered outrageous, immoral, and yes, insensitive.
The homeless get a pass on that consideration. They’re considered by society a nuisance at best, comedically portrayed in books, movies, and television shows. According to some, the homeless deserve the violence, hardship and suffering they get because of an inaccurate belief that they are the manufacturers of their own misfortune. It’s more often that the homeless are victims of circumstances beyond their control (such as mental illness, poverty, unstable unemployment, sudden medical issues that come up, and lack of affordable housing).
It is this sort of callous attitude towards the homeless and other forms of poverty that explains our failure to resolve such social issues within a lifetime.
Homelessness is not a game. Those living such a life have no magical powers. There are no fantasy beasts to slay and dropped loot to take. Trust me when I say that there’s nothing fun — or even funny — about living on the streets or in a shelter.
What I can tell you is that half of people in Vancouver who were surveyed said lack of income and lack of affordable housing main reason for being homeless.
I can also tell you that in the Youth Homeless Report of 2018, available on the Homeless Hub website, more than 6,000 Canadian youths are homeless on any given night.
Moreover, I can tell you, again from experience, that homelessness does not just mean living in a shelter or sleeping on buses. It also includes living in precarious situations with friends or relatives on a temporary basis. Because they tend not to interact with the homelessness serving systems, this is referred to as “hidden” homelessness. Hidden homelessness deflates the reported homeless rate in major urban centres. The actual rate is considerably higher.
Quoting from a key statistics report in 2016, an estimated 235,000 people are homeless in Canada annually.
Finally, as shown in a PIT count report done in 2016, substance abuse — a trait heavily promoted in this “bum simulator” as a game feature — is actually not the most common reason for homelessness. For adults between the ages of 25 and 49, substance abuse only accounts for 24% of homelessness. For adults 50 years and older, the most common reason is actually eviction due to financial reasons.
If facts about homelessness are not enough to set the record straight, try taking a week off to live in the street or in a shelter without accessing the creature comforts you’ve grown accustomed to. By the end of this trial, and after a good hot shower, you’ll get a better understanding about homeless life, something this “simulator” will never teach you.
Thanks for reading!