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The Endless Crisis Of Low Income Living

Realistic poverty isn't a subject that is commonly featured in video games. The medium rarely asks players to balance finances with real world consequences or to experience absolute economic destitution.

I spoke to Adam Crowley, author of Representations of Poverty in Video Games. He talked about how, instead, many games offer players an experience of poverty tourism, that is -- a chance to go "slumming" in a digital world. Players, Crowley says, can observe the working poor and can wander through disadvantaged communities from a position of privilege in many games. This, he explains, establishes a fanciful relationship with poverty, one in which poverty is experienced as mere entertainment.

While games rarely include "absolute poverty," where you have no access to the things that you need, they do sometimes include "relative poverty," which forces you to consider economic contexts.

This is where we landed for this list. These are games that offer not only representation of working class people living on low incomes, but invite you to step into these settings. This sometimes comes with the hope of engagement or making a statement about these things, but equally can simply offer the chance to get a better understanding of this way of life.

This list includes 18 games from the last 9 years, with 126 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to work for minimal money.

DetailsList Details

PEGI Ratings: PEGI 3 to PEGI 18
ESRB Ratings: ESRB EVERYONE to ESRB MATURE 17+
Australian Ratings: G to R 18+
Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative, Open World, Platform, Point-and-Click, Puzzle, Role-Play, Shooting, Simulation, Stealth and Strategy
Total Likes: 126
 

 

Bury Me My Love

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Release Date: 26/10/2017, updated in 2020

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Genres: Adventure and Narrative

Accessibility: 29 features

Developer: The Pixel Hunt (@ThePixelHunt)

Players: This is a single-player game

Don’t be put off by the name and theme of this intriguing game, an adventure played by choosing responses in what looks like a messaging app. You take the role of the husband of a Syrian migrant travelling to Europe. As the game unfolds in real time,...

Papers, Please

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Release Date: 08/08/2013, updated in 2017

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS Vita and iOS

Genres: Narrative, Point-and-Click and Puzzle

Accessibility: 19 features

Developer: Dukope (@Dukope)

Players: This is a single-player game

You play the role of a border-crossing immigration officer in the fictional dystopian Eastern Bloc-like country of Arstotzka. You review each immigrant’s and returning citizens’ passports and paperwork according to an increasing list of changing...

Democratic Socialism Simulator

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Release Date: 20/02/2020

Platforms: Android, PC and iOS

Genres: Narrative, Puzzle, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: Molle Industria (@MolleIndustria)

Players: This is a single-player game

Democratic Socialism Simulator is a puzzle game where you run for office and then run a country. It offers a flow of questions with a yes or no response. Each answer has consequences in the minds of the voters and the prosperity of the country. It's an...

Far: Changing Tides

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Release Date: 01/03/2022

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: Far The Game (@FarTheGame)

Players: This is a single-player game

Far: Changing Tides is an exploration adventure that follows Far: Lone Sail. You work to keep your dilapidated craft from breaking as you explore the ruins of a flooded world.

Disco Elysium

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 15/10/2019, updated in 2021

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4, Stadia, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Puzzle and Role-Play

Accessibility: 24 features

Developer: Studio ZAUM (@StudioZAUM)

Players: This is a single-player game

Disco Elysium The Final Cut is a role-playing game set in the fictional city of Revachol where you play Harrier "Harry" Du Bois who must solve a complex murder. Unusually, your choices and actions not only determine how the story unfolds but affect...

Eastward

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 16/09/2021

Platforms: PC and Switch

Genres: Action, Adventure, Narrative and Role-Play

Accessibility: 21 features

Developer: Pixpil Games (@PixpilGames)

Players: This is a single-player game

Eastward is a adventure game about a miner who meets a young girl in a secret facility. Together you explore the decaying cities and discover the truth about her origins and what’s behind the creatures who are destroying everything. The narrative is...

This War Of Mine

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 14/11/2014, updated in 2016

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and iOS

Genres: Narrative, Role-Play, Shooting, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: 11 Bit Studios (@11BitStudios)

Players: This is a single-player game

Inspired by the 1992–96 Siege of Sarajevo, this is a war game where you play the civilian trying to survive during the fighting. You face tough decisions on how to spend time and resources each day to maintain health, hunger and mood levels until a...

Far: Lone Sails

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: 02/04/2019

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Adventure, Puzzle, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: Far The Game (@FarTheGame)

Players: This is a single-player game

Far: Lone Sails is an exploration adventure video game. You pilot a ramshackle amphibious vehicle propelled by large sails to explore a post-apocalypse world.

Cart Life

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: 25/04/2019

Price: Free

Platforms: PC

Genres: Narrative, Role-Play and Simulation

Developer: Richard Hofmeier (@RichardHofmeier)

Players: This is a single-player game

Cart Life is a simulation game where you play one of three street vendors. You attempt to run their shop whilst looking after their health, interests, and families. It has simple visuals, but depicts the realities of the thin-end of life.

Sunset

Release Date: 21/05/2015

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Role-Play

Developer: Tale Of Tales (@TaleOfTales)

Players: This is a single-player game

Sunset tasks you with cleaning a large apartment in a fictional 1970s South American city. But outside the apartment, there is unrest and rioting. The chaos of the country and the repetitive daily chores grate against one another to create a meditative...

Change: A Homeless Survival Experience

Release Date: 01/05/2020

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: Delve Interactiv (@DelveInteractiv)

Players: This is a single-player game

Change is a survival game where you play a homeless person trying to make it against the odds. It's intentionally hard to do well as you explore an endless city that's different every time you play.

Going Under

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 24/09/2020

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting and Role-Play

Developer: Aggro Crab Games (@AggroCrabGames)

Players: This is a single-player game

Going Under is a satirical adventure game where you play an intern in a failing start-up company. The game proceeds like other dungeon adventures with enemies to defeat and quests to find items, only here it's all in aid of keeping your boss happy while...

Sludge Life

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 28/05/2020, updated in 2021

Platforms: PC and Switch

Genres: Adventure, Open World, Platform, Point-and-Click and Puzzle

Developer: Devolver Digital (@DevolverDigital)

Players: This is a single-player game

Sludge Life is an open world adventure where you play as Ghost, a graffiti artist determined to put his tag all over Sludge City. You play in an adult world full of lived-in locations and intriguing characters. It requires some caution, but beyond the...

Not Tonight (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds

Release Date: 17/08/2018, updated in 2020

Platforms: PC and Switch

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Puzzle and Role-Play

Developer: Panic Barn (@PanicBarn)

Players: This is a single-player game

Not Tonight is a tongue-in-cheek role-play adventure where you challenge the political establishment in alternative versions of Post-Brexit Britain (in the first game) or capitalism-run-rampant America (in the sequel). You take on a time pressured...

Scrappers

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 7

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Release Date: 10/04/2020

Platforms: iPhone, iPad

Genres: Action and Fighting

Developer: Pixel Junk News (@PixelJunkNews)

Players: You can play with 1 to 4 players in the same room or as a 4-player online game

Scrappers is a futuristic fighting game with a twist. You are not only battling the bots but fighting to manage waste as you traverse the city streets and take out the trash. You can play the game on your own or in a team of four mechanised trash...

Scrap Riders

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 21/09/2022

Platforms: PC and Switch

Genres: Adventure, Fighting, Point-and-Click and Puzzle

Developer: Games For Tutti (@GamesForTutti)

Players: This is a single-player game

Scrap Riders is an unusual mix of point-and-click adventure and brawling game where you play Rast, an outlaw biker making his way through the wastelands. You play as a smuggler, by taking on fights with various enemies. But also you need to talk to...

The Big Con

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Release Date: 31/08/2021, updated in 2022

Platforms: PC, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Point-and-Click and Stealth

Accessibility: 25 features

Developer: Mighty Yell (@MightyYell)

Players: This is a single-player game

The Big Con is coming of age adventure game where you break the law to make your way in the world. You play a curious high schooler who ditches band camp to go on a cross-country road trip to save her mum's video store.

Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 16/09/2016

Platforms: PC

Genres: Adventure and Open World

Developer: Sundae Month (@SundaeMonth)

Players: This is a single-player game

Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor is an intentionally dull (and weird) adventure game about picking up trash as a Janitor. You work to find garbage for the incinerator (or to sell) with the thin hope of leaving the planet for a better life. It's a bizarre...

Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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