The game that most accurately portrays the technological downfall of our society is NOT Cyberpunk 2077. It’s YouTubers Life 2.
Picture this. You complete a game. You’re contacted by a mysterious individual who says that you, yes, you have passed the test. You’re worthy of entry to a bustling metropolis powered by the bleeding edge of technology, where the best of the best come together to push the boundaries and succeed where so few do. Where the world is built around those with the wits and drive to conquer what we know to be possible and beyond.
No, it’s not BioShock‘s Rapture, but it’s pretty damn close. You see, Youtubers Life 2 is set in a city built entirely for content creators. That fever dream realm where the biggest bar in town is an Esports venue. Where opportunities to stream or create reaction videos are around every corner. This is a world, where, Black Mirror style, your worth in society is determined by your internet clout.
I’ve spent a little bit of time hands-on with the game, and I’ll be honest. I don’t know if this is sincere or some completely next-level satire, but I’m more absorbed than I expected to be. Maybe it’s because I’m viewing it through this bitter, cynical lens, but from the moment my mysterious handler basically refused to let me leave my bedroom until I’d earned a certain amount of subscribers I was hooked. To make matters more dystopian, you now have an actual drone that follows you around and records basically everything you do, just to make sure you don’t miss out on a chance to react to something.
YouTubers Life 2 seems to completely acknowledge the soulless, sell-out nature of the beast. You’re encouraged to give your videos click-baity titles, to chase trends instead of making the content you really want to. I know that in actual fact, this is probably just vapid and clueless. I’m definitely just reading too much into this hollow sim that’s aiming at giving kids a taste of the high-flying content creator lifestyle, but it is kinda freaky to see the game relentlessly embrace the empty direction all this culture is moving towards.
I’ll admit that I’m not the game’s intended audience. I give most of the big content creation platforms a wide berth, and I’ve spent the last few years completely excising social media from my life. I actually realised in a conversation with Josh here at FULLSYNC that I reviewed the first YouTubers Life all the way back in 2017, and shared a similar sentiment back then:
The parties, movie premieres and shallow networking ultimately drive a jaded, cynical view of YouTube stardom that bizarrely clashes with Youtubers Life’s jaunty, appealing visuals. Rather than carving out your own niche and earning success through being uniquely creative, the game rewards close monitoring of trends and industry movements. Your character doesn’t impress anyone by being themselves – instead you’ll have to dress up certain ways to fit in at certain parties, and only ever talk to people about the things they like to get on with them.
So really, YouTubers Life 2 is just continuing in the same vein as the original. The slightly anime-ish, basic but vibrant visuals still bely the dark innards of a game that’s all about selling out and loving it. Except now it’s a little easier to see the abject despair on your avatar’s face as they ponder how to pander to the camera next.
We do have a review of YouTubers Life 2 coming up. It should be finished in the next week or so, and I’m hoping to divorce myself from this bleak, corporate view I have of it before then. If you’re interested in checking out this frighteningly accurate view of the future before then, it’s available today – check it out on Steam right here.