I can't make it 10 minutes in this free browser-based New York Times Sim without getting fired for commie agitprop

An angry New York Times logo in a top hat says, "I hate to break it to you, but wealthy people own this media company and they really dislike your work."
(Image credit: Molleindustria)

Another day, another free browser game on Itch sucking up a frankly worrying amount of my time. Last week it was Social Democracy, which let me live my lifelong dream of being an obscure Weimar-era economist. Today? New York Times Simulator, in which I live my other lifelong dream of repeatedly getting fired from America's newspaper of record.

NYT Sim comes from developer/rabble-rouser Molleindustria, the same person who brought you things like Democratic Socialism Simulator, Every Day The Same Dream: a game about alienation and the refusal of labour, and Booflag: the game where you boo the Confederate flag. Are you picking up on the vibe? I feel like the vibe should be coming through loud and clear.

The game carries on Molleindustria's tradition of wrapping spiky satire in a frighteningly playable package. It calls itself a "modern remake" of Lucas Pope's The Republia Times, a game that saw you assemble a state-run newspaper to flatter the regime while minimising stories that made it look bad.

Instead of a single, tyrannical regime to please, NYT Sim gives you three factions to cater to: The cops, the rich, and the state of Israel. It works like this: The NYT front page has four slots for four different stories, and potential candidates gradually fill up the left side of your screen. You have to choose ones that will entice readers without offending your backers. Mess up, and you'll either run out of readers or get fired.

Which is a little awkward, because all your most interesting stories are either about the accelerating collapse of the climate and big capital's complicity in that, police violence against unarmed civilians, or the brutality of Israel's conduct in Gaza. They're not keen on you publishing those headlines, which means you have to cycle through various potential angles, turning important stories into either banal, navel-gazing thinkpieces or else truly impressive deployments of the passive voice. 

Either that or you just run the absolute nothing pieces that come up from time to time on a slow news day (hey, we've all been there), but that won't keep readers coming back for long.

The game is, well, actually pretty simple. I never found it too hard to keep all my partners happy while keeping readers coming back, and that's probably why a game only lasts around ten minutes. It's more an extended joke than it is a challenge, and the fun comes mostly from seeing the numerous different versions of each headline you're presented with.

If you just want to set things on fire, though, you can just see how quickly you can annoy America's rich and powerful by seizing control of the NYT and turning it into a sub-outlet of The Weekly Worker. You won't make it through the week before the paper's rich owners pull their funding, the cops come knocking, or the pro-Israel editorial board tells you to clear your desk, but hey, better to burn out than fade away.

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.