Euro Truck Simulator 2 (ETS2) was a game I started playing many years before I could legally drive in real life. Around this period, I played many simulators that let me practice/do what I wanted to do in real life before I really could. Microsoft Flight Simulator X is only example of this that I spent thousands of hours on (I wanted to be a pilot), but ETS2 was another. And, to many people, ETS2 is the stranger example. 90% of the game time is mind-numbing, spent sitting at the same speed on a highway doing very little.
However, the excellent execution of the game is only felt through this mundanity. The mechanics of the game have built-in hours of ‘nothingness’ between each other where you have relative free-reign and little interaction with the boundaries of the game’s requirements. Beyond virtual currency incentives, there is very little to keep you on track or bound to the game’s ‘plan’. This space is where you become engrossed in the game. You can feel the weight of your cab and trailer as you make maneuvers on the road. You’ll be caught off-guard by a particularly unwieldy cargo that makes you realise you chose the wrong truck for the job. You’ll collide with walls you thought you were clear on when making a turn. This realism, felt only as a result of uninterrupted, sandbox-type freedom, is what creates such engrossing gameplay, allowing you to drive these huge trucks without effort or consequence.
The mechanics, and the space between their interference, come together to form this experience that sucks you into creating your own trucking empire. Delivering cargo in trips that take many hours and require you sit through the mundanity, feel the underlying movements of your truck, and soak up Europe’s sights through the glorious graphics.