The Joys of Roller Coaster Tycoon
A few weeks ago, I woke up jet lagged at 5am in a Millbrae hotel room. I had the urge to do something nostalgic. To relive something, anything, I used to do as a kid.
By 5:15am I had downloaded RollerCoaster Tycoon (Touch) onto my phone. And by the time Yoko woke up, I was deep into arranging the two dozen rides and restaurants in my virtual amusement park.
The first RollerCoaster Tycoon was released for Windows in 1999. I remember passing the mouse back and forth with childhood friends as we took turns building and managing the amusement park.
I sank hours designing custom coasters, carefully laying out ride queues, and strategically placing janitor stations to optimize for path cleaning.
Recently over drinks, my friend Greg told me about how much he enjoys ironing. It’s his wind down activity. It’s sacred. It satisfies some part of him.
Something similar holds true with RCT for me. Sure, it’s an iPhone game carefully designed to reward me with coins and new attractions, but there’s something about the act of building the park. Expanding, designing, and maintaining this simple operation feeds a certain weird part of my wiring.
It’s an easily optimized, anxiety free business venture. I turn knobs, correct small mistakes, and get to focus on building an epic place for people to interact with.
Sure, it’s just a game. But I think RCT scratches at a real itch. A personal itch to build stuff, organize it, and continuously improve it.