Ever wanted to be a pub landlord? No, me neither, but for those of you who want to find out if you have what it takes there is a new app to test your skills. You can run it on your iPhone or iPad and it is free, though there are in app purchases. Start off with a small back street boozer and try to work your way up to a modern gastro pub or smart hipster bar. Along the way you will have to deal with ordering stock such as food, beer, wines and spirits. Will you go for the cheap and cheerful or the premium products with a higher profit margin? You can organise events such as live music or karaoke, but you must make sure that the customers do not become too rowdy and trash the place, start fights or throw up everywhere. Build extensions, hire new staff, improve the kitchen or add a beer garden. If you can build up the reputation of the pub you may even be featured on the legendary Golden Beer Mat. For those of you with a darker side there is even the option of dodging tax.
Developed by Cheshire based Paul Austen, it was the result of his work as a senior business advisor to clients in the licensing trade. Some people who play it will be those who just enjoy a challenge, but I can see how it may be a useful experience for those with a desire to enter the trade for real. It might also be useful for those who are studying business, although apparently you have to be aged 17 to be allowed to download it as there are frequent references to alcohol, tobacco and drugs in the game. Find it in the app store.
It’s not the only game around. A quick search revealed that I could be playing Nightclub Manager (free from Gamesheep), Bar Salvation, a food business simulation game (Freeonlinegames) or Late Bar Tycoon (Izzygames), though judging by the graphics none of these provide the same in depth realism of the pub landlord offering.
So will I be getting the app? Probably not, but that’s not because I am a bit sniffy about games and phones. I think that strategy games especially can provide a useful insight into the complexities of the real world. My reservations are the addictive nature of the games. Decide to spend half an hour playing Sid Meier’s Civilisation or Championship Manager and whole days can disappear before you re-enter the real world. Anyway, my mental energies are currently taken up by online fantasy baseball (free from fantasybaseballuk.com).
Ironically it could be that playing the game about running a pub could be the reason for not going down the pub and having a pint, so I had my own lightbulb moment. Most towns of any size have an internet café, so why not a video game pub, where you could play a selection of great games whilst having a pint. Years ago you could sit at a table and play a game of Pong, the table tennis game, or space invaders on the fruit machine like console in the corner, but these seem to have disappeared. Unfortunately I have been beaten to it. There are several bars around that do just this. For example, the Four Quarters bar in Peckham has an interesting mix of classic arcade games craft beer and sandwich toaster based food which can be eaten with one hand. At least drinking beer gives you an excuse for not improving as the night goes on.