IN OCTOBER, the Internet buzzed with the news that Zynga—the San Francisco video game company responsible for FarmVille and Mafia Wars—will soon open a Seattle office. It’s only a matter of time before updates from these viral game titles start choking up our Facebook news feeds.

Why tend to multiple virtual crops when you can grow just one—the simple-to-maintain coffee bean—and hire inexpensive, migrant laborers to do all the hard work? But this game doesn’t stop with the harvesty excitement of FarmVille; it’s fun for budding entrepreneurs, too: Construct international distribution centers, open domestic coffeehouses, and take advantage of economies of scale by applying massive markups to your cheaply produced swill!

Ware Wars
What evil lurks in the hearts of software engineers? (If their Red Bull intake is any indicator, it’s early onset cardiopathy.) They may look like geeks, but these cutthroat coders are on a quest for the latest killer app. And now you get to call the shots. Build your army of tough-as-nails techies, steal intellectual property from your competitors, and bust up a few motherboards if you have to.

The world would be a better place if everyone would just learn to unplug from the grid and, like, live in nature, man. Give up creature comforts, build a tree house, grow your own food, and sew your own clothes—all without actually having to do it. Because living sustainably is so much easier when you can do it via your laptop.

Auto Wars
In a semifictional future (let’s say late 2010), a semifictional local government (let’s say Seattle’s) has declared war on cars. But because quitting your job isn’t an option and you have to get there somehow, it’s time to fight back. Soup-up your ride with advanced weaponry, take aim at parking meters, and reclaim your city in a cloud of exhaust fumes. Win and you can rename every street after yourself!

Being the leader of a homeless camp is a 24-hour-a-day job (you never know when the cops will show up to send you packing), but with the way the economy is going, it could be the future of elected office. Get a head start on your mayoral competition with this exciting shanty-town simulation: Dole out cooking-fire duties, settle intertent disputes, and dig the camp’s latrines. These are must-have skills for today’s wannabe public servant.

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