Face the Challenges of Running a Start-up in “The Founder” Video Game

Francis Tseng's meta, dystopian simulator lets you launch and manage a fake business

Brooklyn-based artist and interaction designer Francis Tseng offers an opportunity that many of us could only wistfully fantasize about: the chance to be a start-up founder. His new simulation video game, The Founder, takes place right after the last dot-com bubble bust: a fresh clean slate, ready to become overrun with your legacy industry-disrupting, world-changing product. AKA: it gets too real. Stages include “assembling the best talent” (and budgeting money for employee perks and benefits), “research groundbreaking technologies,” and “hype your company to cult-like status”—with one of the examples being a sponsored music festival.

Tseng has previously explored dystopian scenarios with his complex city simulator Humans of Simulated New York (also worth mentioning: his fun project the Brain, a bot that learns your social media personality and then represents you on Twitter and Facebook), but this video game is a lot easier for the average office worker to understand and interact with. This gamification of our current start-up obsessed and start-up powered reality is as unsettling as it is utterly enthralling. Does “winning” the game lead to the destruction of our planet? Who are the antagonists here: the shareholders, the demographic of users who won’t use your product, or your own self? We can’t wait to be disgusted by how ruthless we become, and gain a better understanding of how the system works.

Pledge $10 or more on Kickstarter to help bring Tseng’s hyper-reality video game to life.

Images courtesy of Francis Tseng