Running your own games developer is a precarious business. If you're in the console field, it can cost tens of millions to make a game. And even on iPhone, you're up against tens of thousands of competitors, making lasting success a dream rather than reality for most companies.
Running a virtual games developer within an iPhone game? It's all very meta, but Game Dev Story has got us gripped. It's a game from Japanese indie developer Kairosoft, and is essentially a game about making games.
It's focused on the traditional console and handheld gaming industries, rather than iPhone and mobile. You hire and fire staff, while training them up to boost their skills. You choose the genre and type of games to produce, securing licences for new consoles as they're released, and deciding whether to take risks on big-budget creative explorations, or speedily-developed safe genre-hits.
All this, with simple controls and cutesy isometric graphics. We're hooked, to the extent of spending several hours yesterday playing through the entire 20-year cycle of the game, culminating in the launch of our own 'Mega Beef' console, and showing Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft (well, their slightly-differently-named in-game versions) how it's done.
Admittedly, you might need to be a games geek to love Game Dev Story as much as we do. But if you've always fancied yourself as a budding interactive entertainment entrepreneur, give it a whirl. Just make sure you have a few hours free.
Now, if you're reading, Kairosoft, how about a sequel focused purely on modern-day mobile games, where you get to decide between iPhone and other platforms, and game the App Store with crafty marketing tricks?