Developers also added business sense to the game because Sally is both creative and business savvy. However, warns Shatford, “The game is not a salon simulator.”
Just the same, it’s worth asking: How much like real life is it? After all, today’s highly realistic pitched-battle online games are intended for reality escape, while casual games tend to tell stories and reward certain behaviors—read, life-related, at least in most player’s minds. What happens in games matters because they create an overall impression about a profession and reinforce existing attitudes.
Day in the Life
Speaking anonymously, an industry consultant agreed on the game’s focus on tips as a reward. He says he’s seen walkouts over any hint of mistrust about tips finding their way to the right person. “Tips should be kept in sealed envelopes, and if anyone messes with them, look out.”
Cash is most definitely king. Although “Sally’s Salon” was developed a few years back, it also understands stylists’ need for the hottest $500 outfit—that’s the cost if you want to splurge with your tips like real stylists tend to do. (Certain NYC salons require the staff wear designer duds.)
You can also get swanky furniture, buy upgrades for a couple grand or hire an assistant for $3,000—no indication how long a term that covers or if there’s a non-compete. There’s no 401(k), sadly reflective of reality, but it would have been nice to track if any players tucked it away for a rainy day.
On a recent gameplay, a $90 service netted a $6 tip—which seems near insult, until you realize the 5.4-percent tip came from a less-than-satisfied client who was left virtually “waiting” for far too long. At “Sally’s,” time management matters and you must be able to multi-task to make cash. Maybe it’s a good thing real-time clients aren’t so precise with a tip-to-wait-time formula.
What’s really interesting about the game is that every action has an equal and positive reaction. Do good work: Move ahead. Make a profit: Get to upgrade yourself. Buy better equipment: Morph to happier, higher-paying clients. Stay on course: Reap reward. There are no know-nothing bosses, ego-trippers or underminers.
Okay, so it might give young and young-at-heart women pie-in-the sky ideas about the working world. But maybe it’ll also offset a particularly irksome view of ‘dressers: That they are mainly a bunch of women who don’t make real money.
She’s Got Game
The first beauty-themed casual game was “Belle’s Beauty Boutique,” which reviewers called a bit of a “chore.” “Sally’s Salon” is a success precisely because it’s all good. You get to interact and have fun without getting killed off by some mutant opponent. Making customers happy is the name of the game: Do it and you make good coin.