If you’re an Xbox Series X/S owner, then it might well be time to consider buying an expansion SSD, just to ensure you’ve got space. Because Lawn Mowing Simulator is out next month. The backyard trimming sim you’ve been hankering for is finally with us August 10.
The whole slanty-writing video game simulation market went far beyond parody many years ago, even before Goat Simulator tied a bow on top of the whole parade. But I’m delighted that in a world of Power Wash Simulator, PC Building Simulator and Gas Station Simulator, I can still be surprised and delighted by the specificity of the genre.
It’s hard to get a clear read on how tongue-in-cheek Lawn Mower Simulator is. It’s being published by Curve Digital, an established indie publisher, and developed by Skyhook Games, responsible for the deathly serious Train Simulator franchise. (Although props to them for a spin-off with the unimprovable name, The Count Of Monster Disco.) There doesn’t seem to be any notion of humor in the trailer, nor the store page, but obviously everyone involved has to be at least somewhat aware how daft the name reads.
The game’s Steam store page explains that it will allow players to “experience the beauty and detail of mowing the Great British countryside,” in, “the only simulator that allows you to ride an authentic and expansive roster of real-world licensed lawn mowers from prestigious manufacturers.” They will include Toro, SCAG, and STIGA (John Deere seems astoundingly conspicuous in its absence), and it will all allow you run your own grass cutting business.
More importantly, this being a British-set game, it surely must be aware of its own prestigious heritage. As Kotaku’s pet British person, I’m abundantly aware of the significance of lawn mowing in gaming—it was, as it happens, an integral part of late-80s Spectrum gaming.
It all began as a very silly joke on the greatest gaming magazine ever to have existed, Your Sinclair. One of the mag’s writers, the lamentably late Duncan MacDonald, was sat in the YS shed “chortling to himself,” according to an account by the magazine’s then editor Theresa “T’zer” Maughan. “He had this screen of green disappearing with this thing moving back and forth, and had called it Advanced Lawnmower Simulator. We thought it was hilarious and said we had to put it on the cover!”
Brilliantly, Dunc went on to review his own game inside the magazine—an incredibly complimentary review, not mentioning his authorship, but rather crediting it to “GardenSoft”—because in 1988 everyone playing video games was having fun and being nice about it. And it was given away free to readers on the... cover cassette. (Imagine where you’d have to start explaining this concept to someone born this century. Then have a cry.)
This began a long-running joke in the incredibly popular UK Speccy mag, of lasting significance such that it has its own Wikipedia entry, and so very many follow-up games made in its honor.
I specifically remember playing one official sequel that involved randomized alien attacks, ending your lawn mowing run. There was also, the magazine claimed, an Advanced Lawnmower Simulator III, which saw the player entering a terrifying nightmare dreamscape.
I think my dream of Lawn Mowing Simulator being a spiritual sequel to Duncan MacDonald’s masterpiece is unlikely to be fulfilled. If you’re on the Xbox Insider program, you can play a build of the game right now. Otherwise, it’s coming to the new Xboxes and PC August 10.