TikTok is getting excited about 30 Days on Ship, but should it be?

Of all the games people on TikTok could get excited about, they’ve decided it’s one about shipping containers — one about surviving at sea on a pile of shipping containers for 30 days. It’s called 30 Days on Ship, appropriately and somewhat bluntly, and it isn’t out yet, but there’s a trailer being shared that shows a character opening a never ending string of containers to find fridges, drones, motorbikes, chainsaws, televisions, quad bikes — all manner of goods that might be shipped overseas. Quite why you’d need a quad bike on a teetering pile of shipping containers, though, I don’t know.

The rest of the trailer shows a bit of base building — my favourite part being where on-screen text reads «the only mission: survive!», while we watch a player place a flat screen TV near some sofas — as well as a bit of underwater exploration where you’ll find whales and sharks. Or at least I think they’re sharks — it’s hard to tell. It doesn’t really matter though. What matters is that the whole thing is ridiculous. I don’t think anyone’s ever thought of setting a survival crafting game on a sinking ship laden with containers, and that’s why everyone’s getting excited about it now.

There’s some inherent excitement in shipping containers, too, isn’t there? What’s inside, we wonder. There’s a whole show on TV about it called Container Wars, which you must have watched at some point — it’s been knocking around for years. The idea is that shipping containers are suddenly opened to reveal all kinds of as yet unverified treasures within, then people there have moments to decide what’s worth their money and then bid on it. What will they find? It’s alarmingly compelling — as is this collective excitement on TikTok.

Cover image for YouTube video30 Days on Ship — Trailer

The 30 Days on Ship trailer that’s being shared around.

I’ve spent more of my Monday morning searching for information about shipping containers than I should probably admit to. Did you know, for example, that every year, roughly 2000 to 10,000 containers are lost at sea, and that — amazingly — it can take a 20-foot container up to 171 days to sink? All that treasure, just bobbing around; perhaps this game isn’t so far fetched. Those facts come from a company which turns shipping containers into temporary homes, by the way, and I have no idea if they’re true, though it reminds me of the shipping containers turned into homes where I live — I even get my hair cut in one.

It also reminds me of the shipping container board game Dicebreaker’s Matt Jarvis wrote about, under the incredible headline, «Container, a board game with the most boring theme imaginable, is one of the most exciting experiences I’ve ever had.» And it reminds me of Ed Thorn’s heartfelt «Someone should make a game about shipping containers» piece.

But I should be wary of being swept away by this collective excitement, because I haven’t played the game so I have no idea how good or bad it may be, though I’m not expecting marvels and my hunch is that the novelty will quickly wear off. I’m also conscious of the publisher the game is attached to, PlayWay, because it has a questionable reptuation. It’s the company responsible for games like Car Mechanic Simulator, Contraband Police, House Flipper, Thief Simulator, Ship Graveyard Simulator, Hairdresser Simulator, and many, many more, and it’s the second largest gaming company in Poland behind CD Projekt. Clearly, it’s doing something right. But it also announces more games than it makes, meaning many trailers are mock-ups, so who’s to say how much of 30 Days on Ship actually exists?

Also, the 30 Days on Ship TikTok video, the most successful one, which has 6.4 million views: it was posted by someone developing the game, so it’s closer to marketing than a video born of natural excitement. But does that matter? There’s nothing to say you can’t share your work on TikTok, and there’s nothing to say you can’t promote it there either. Clearly, judging by the Steam forum for 30 Days on Ship, and threads titled «Tiktok send me here» and «just saw this on TikTok», it’s working. It’s a reminder, though, to always think about where the hype for something originates from.

Surviving on a pile of shipping containers in a game is a thing, then, and I’m happy it is. Wacky ideas I’m all here for. After a week of banging my head against the grind in crafting survival game Nightingale, I could do with some light relief. Exactly what we’ll find when we bust open the shipping container of 30 Days on Ship, though, remains to be seen.

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