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The Simpsons predicted our gaming future

People are starting to really take notice of an interesting trend in pop culture. It appears that the long-running animated series The Simpsons is capable of predicting the future. Jokes from years ago have been coming true, including one episode that featured Donald Trump being elected President and another that literally seemed to anticipate both the coronavirus outbreak and the rise of "murder hornets" all at once. In an interesting twist, it appears as though The Simpsons also had a bit of a headstart on where gaming would go in the future. 

One of these jokes comes to us from the 1998 episode "Bart Carny." In this episode, the Simpson family visited a traveling carnival. In between checking out the freak show and carnival food, Bart Simpson set his sights on a virtual reality game called Yard Work Simulator. The joke here is that Bart wants to play simulated chores, but sounds entirely reluctant to do his actual housework when his mother reminds him that there's plenty of yard work to do back home.

It's hard not to see the similarities between Yard Work Simulator and other modern games. Reddit user MrCrazyDave has pointed out how close the concept seems to games like the Animal Crossing franchise. The latest game in the series, Animal Crossing: New Horizonshas been a massively successful title this year. It also features a ton of virtual chores. Heck, the weeds in the game can build up so much that some people have even started their own Animal Crossing weed-pulling business online. That's right, some gamers take such pride in their own virtual yard work that they'll travel to your game and spruce up the place.

Other games like Harvest Moon, Stardew Valley, and the Farming Simulator series have also made virtual chores into a core part of gaming experiences. Meanwhile, Red Dead Redemption 2 expects players to take time out of their bounty hunting and bank robbing to tend to their camps. Chores in RDR2 include moving bales of hay and doing the dishes after supper. Some people have really hated this aspect of the game, while others have embraced it.

The presence of Yard Work Simulator in "Bart Carney" isn't the only time that The Simpsons has appeared to foresee a video game trend or franchise. The 2002 episode "How I Spent My Strummer Vacation" featured Homer Simpson being sent off to a rock and roll fantasy camp where he jammed with the likes of Mick Jagger, Elvis Costello, and Lenny Kravitz. While the episode itself kind of came across like a big excuse to get a bunch of rock stars in one place, some folks also think that it may have predicted another video game franchise.

Reddit user apex32 points out a moment in the episode when the rockers give Homer a t-shirt that says "Guitar Hero" on the front. This t-shirt predated the hyper-successful Guitar Hero video game series by roughly three years. Other Redditors in the comments appear to think this is a bit of a reach, considering the fact that the term "guitar hero" had existed prior to this episode airing. Like many other apparent predictions in The Simpsons, it can occasionally be difficult to tell whether or not this is just a coincidence.

Interestingly, while there are plenty of video games based on The Simpsons, it doesn't appear as if any of those have predicted the future. Then again, as mentioned by Vulture, many of those games were copies of games that had come before it. For example, as good as it was for a game based on a TV showThe Simpsons: Hit & Run was basically a knock off of the Grand Theft Auto series.

Still, it's hard to argue with some of the more high profile instances of The Simpsons' prescience. This is not a new phenomenon, either. In fact, the idea of The Simpsons somehow being able to predict the future has been around for a quite a while. It's gained quite a bit of traction in recent years, however. 

A lot of this comes down to a convergence of strong comedic writing and massive coincidences. As pointed out by Fast Company's Joe Berkowitz, "if you stick around for 639 episodes and counting of trenchant social commentary, eventually some of your big swings are gonna connect." Still, that hasn't stopped the series from featuring several seemingly prescient storylines. 

In fact, data visualization specialist Seffana Mohamed-Ajaz has created an interactive chart that shows how often the animated series has managed to seemingly predict future events. According to the data on the graph, the average time it takes for something from an episode of The Simpsons to "come true" is around 12 years. Who knows what kinds of video games or political events from the series could come to pass in the next decade or so? Only time (and good joke writing) will tell.