The Founder

Door: Francis Tseng

“If you were a Silicon Valley CEO, would your goal in life be to reshape society with world-changing products, or simply make as much money as possible and grow as fast as you can in the shortest amount of time? That’s the blunt and much-needed philosophical debate at the heart of The Founder, a free browser-based game from designer Francis Tseng. Launched earlier today thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, the game blends the open-ended decision-making made popular by The Sims, the business management Kairosoft titles, and a heaping helping of tech industry satire.

Tseng, in an interview with Fast Company, said the point of the game was to highlight the absurdity of Silicon Valley, a place where immense resources and talent is concentrated in silly and sometimes sinister ways. “I saw a lot of really amazing, technically amazing stuff happening in Silicon Valley, but the way it was being applied, the way [it] was being directed, just felt like a shame — it felt like a waste,” Tseng says. “I was really interested in bringing that out in the game. That there’s all this kind of marvelous innovation and technical development going on, but it feels like a lot of it is being squandered.”

As you progress in The Founder, you’ll unlock the ability to grow beyond startup staples like social networking, advertising, and gadgets and into larger and more ominous industries like biotech, weapons development, robotics, and artificial intelligence. Some products become fantastical, like combining cognitive research with finance to generate “thought pattern-based credit scores” or combining social networking, analytics, and genetic research to establish a cloning facility. At some point, you can even invest in space travel to colonize Mars. Along the way, you can scoop up other companies that range from media organizations to global banks to shadowy government contractors.”