As a man with no real concept of a consistent career path or even really an awareness of things that I’m good at, I’ve often pondered a life as a professional truck-person. It seems like a gig I’d enjoy, considering my affinities for driving, working alone, and listening to the radio. If there’s any one thing discouraging me from this pursuit, it’s the sheer anxiety that hits me whenever I think about having to navigate the roads with such a massive and unwieldy vehicle; being careful to take those huge wide turns without hitting several pedestrians. Perhaps this is unfounded, though my time with American Truck Simulator would prove otherwise.
I’m not really sure what I expected when I booted the game up, but having the word “Simulator” in your title these days gives me a bit of reason for concern, as that tends to imply some sort of half-finished Youtube bait with wacky physics in place of actual honest-to-goodness simulation of a real world event.
Then it took me five minutes to figure out how to turn my engine on and I decided that American Truck Simulator was a-okay.
If anything, I found the experience veering too far in the other direction, at first, taking the role of the long-haul trucker very seriously. I learned this the hard way upon running my first red light, and then again when daring to exceed 55 MPH on a Nevada highway. I was expected to be law-abiding and careful, as if this were real or something. American Truck Simulator, played as intended, is uneventful, even downright boring at times, yet I couldn’t stop playing it. Why? Was my desire to finish my podcast backlog so strong that I simply tolerated any stimulation on offer? I thought about that for a while, slowly building up my trucking business and proving myself worthy of hauling increasingly more dangerous explosives across the west coast.
While, indeed, there was something quite thrilling about speeding down the streets of Sacremento with enough caustic material to blow up all of Gotham, I also came to realize that I enjoyed the quiet simplicity of it all. Go to a job, get the load, spend 20-30 minutes hauling it to wherever, then repeat, broken up only by the occasional rest or gas stop. I stopped for traffic lights. I signaled to my fellow drivers. I made sure to stay at a reasonable speed so as not to endanger anyone else on the road. After breaking so many game worlds, American Truck Simulator offered me structure, which in and of itself became novel. Unlike most games, the rewards don’t stem from chaos, but from good, honest, unstimulating work. Not only did I come back time and time again, but after hours and hours of life on the road, I found myself caring about my trucking business and the future growth opportunities. Sure, it may be fun to spin out and flip a trailer, but then I’d undo all of that goodwill I’ve but into my personal truck brand.
Also, I can’t afford to take out another loan from the bank. There was this whole thing involving a three way stop. It’s a long story.