International Racing Squirrels is a race management sim which also models and reflects on real-world financial systems. The game has the player running an errant gang of misbehaving squirrels, who act a bit like glamorous soccer stars. It is set in the dark underworld of the international squirrel racing scene, brought to life with 50 interactive "storylets" and 25+ levels through which the game's complexity gradually unfurls. Bribery, debt, hotel room trashing, gambling and secondary careers in reality TV or the pop charts are rife. In the up-tree urban training facility players purchase homes, build up their team, train their squirrels and send them off to racetracks around the world. From jungles to futuristic cities and streets to deserts they face a barrage of feisty opponents. The idea was inspired by an article in Scientific American that compared the running speeds of different animals and concluded that squirrels are faster than stampeding elephants.
From the outset we wanted to make a sophisticated management sim and set it in a quirky, edgy, humorous world. The idea was to draw inspiration from how money is used in games such as Dope Wars, Sim City, Animal Crossing and Farmville. But rather than having a single sum of money to represent the player's status, we would add a detailed representation of real consumer finances. Managing your money is key to succeeding in race team management: play cautiously and save up a pile of acorns, take risks and possibly win even more, or throw caution to the wind and end up totally overdrawn, selling everything to stay afloat. The game is free online and available on iPad with versions coming to other platforms soon.