Interactive artist and game designer Jeff Nusz was tasked with creating a new title that was social in nature but used unique controllers. So naturally, Nusz turned to the most back-breaking of tasks: shoveling. Double Shovel is exactly what it sounds like.
When promoted, you and another laborer player team up to move as much feed as possible into the bin. A trapdoor swings down when a load is delivered and the flap hits an arcade button, which is attached to an Arduino. You can now relive what it’s like to shovel your driveway from the comfort of your own home. That’s about it.
Double Shovel is a textbook example of what game designers Eric Zimmerman and Naomi Clark call “the fantasy of labor.” In addition to games of chance and games of skill, games of labor are tied to the industrial fantasy that if you keep working hard, eventually you will earn your reward. This ethos is common in many “social” games from FarmVille to Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, which beckon you with the call of putting more time in.
The irony, of course, is that contemporary society, at least in the US, offers no such success. As Justin Wolfers, senior fellow at Peterson Institute for International Economics, tweeted out today, middle class incomes have been stagnant for the last forty years while the rich get richer.
But the good news is that the global elite can hire you on TaskRabbit to play Double Shovel on their behalf. The future is a wonderful place.