Sawbuck Gamer


A Happy Drudgery

Crafty games like Innkeeper can make the most mundane tasks enjoyable.

By Tasha Robinson • April 20, 2012

Creator: Marvin Apacible
Platform: Browser
Price: Free

One of the strange facets of gaming is the way people flock to play games simulating repetitive, tedious jobs they wouldn’t want in real life. Probably none of the people playing Innkeeper are dying to manage a run-down hotel staffed entirely by their relatives, and catering to an endless stream of cranky, griping tourists. But Innkeeper is an enjoyable little sim, largely because of the quest-driven play and the touches of local culture. Browser-game vets have likely been through this routine many times before—build amenities, serve customers, amass money, upgrade, rinse, repeat—but how many games like this dole out a steady supply of information about aswangs, the highly variable Philippine version of vampires?

Innkeeper players start out with a one-story inn on a Philippine island, with one type of guest (Natives), one simple type of room, and three employees. Completing objectives—like drawing certain guests or acquiring a good star rating—unlocks more options, driving higher profits. Meanwhile, as days go by, two simple storylines unfold. One involves scientific study of aswangs, and the other featuring a boasting hotelier ready to put you out of business. 

Innkeeper is a cute game with a few odd features. The amenities are varied (computer room, flower garden, convention center), and each of them has three options to choose between (the convention center can host shows from “Cirque De Lune,” “Nickelfield,” or “Whitney Spears,” for instance) but the options seem to have no effect, and upgrading the amenities doesn’t change their appearance. Assigning your family members to jobs will improve their skills in the most relevant area so quickly that there’s no point in ever checking the staffing menus again. (Sorry, uncle, but you just became a janitor for life.) And your customers tend to say weird, random things. But despite the quirks, the game is satisfyingly nuanced, with plenty of options, rapid progress, and a healthy sense of humor—particularly when it comes to attracting Hipster customers. Real-life business-world drudgery was never this easy, or this adorable.

Share this with your friends and enemies

Write a scintillating comment

366 Responses to “A Happy Drudgery”

  1. Raging Bear says:

    Do you get to expend your life in mopping, in emptying and filling pails? Do you continue, never stopping, until your strength entirely fails?

    (Sorry. “Drudge” is one of those words that triggers reflexive Edward Gorey recitals in me.)

  2. MSUSteve says:

    Sounds a bit like one of my faves, Game Dev Story.  It’s a bummer to hear that the appearance of the amenities does not change as you upgrade.  Seeing things get nicer is a huge incentive to upgrade in a game like this.

  3. AuroraBoreanaz says:

    So true – I keep saying that if score bars and achievements were added to all of my required tasks, I’d be super productive!

    Of course, Chore Wars didn’t really work for the household stuff, forgot about it in about three days.

  4. HobbesMkii says:

    You don’t get a whole lot of games featuring Filipino culture. If they were anything like this one, we’re really missing out.

  5. LimeadeYouth says:

    Played the game today. My 8 y.o. loved it and we had some good discussions about priorities. It took me about 160 days to get all the rewards/medals/etc.

    My only gripe with these styles of games, and it’s a VERY small one, is that when you get to a good spot where you’re amassing stuff but not quite to the point of progressing you can play basically forever until you feel like putting the time into moving forward. There needs to be some sort of mechanism similar to the old racing game where there was a 4th phantom racer to ensure that the game can’t go on forever.

    •  Am I the only one not smart enough to figure out how to get the third floor by “Upgrading Amenities” 4 times?

      • LimeadeYouth says:

        after you install your second floor, install at least one of the gym, laundry, or breakfast buffet. Once installed you can click on them and you’ll see a progress bar at the top and an upgrade arrow at the top.

  6. Penis Van Lesbian says:

    Not a comment on the game, but does the font used on this site behave oddly when italicized or is it just me? Innkeeper (in the strap-line) looks more like Innkccpcr…