Usually, a Google Sheet is the site of bureaucratic misery and numbing digits; the exact sort of place you wouldn’t want to find yourself on a weekend night. Yet there I was: five hundred rows deep, carefully entering Japanese text I had extracted from the decompiled source code of a twenty-four-year-old .exe file. With me was a cadre of volunteers from around the world offering possible translations nearly as fast as I was pasting in characters. “能力 - skill level,” someone commented. “Ability,” wrote another. 好きな本 was decided as “favorite book”; 耐震工事, “seismic retrofitting.”
These are but a few choice elements of 本屋物語, a bookstore simulator created by the Japanese videogame developer Kairosoft in 1997 (the title translates literally as “Bookstore Story,” or more poetically, “BookStory”). I came across the game recently while searching for book-related sims. While sims (videogames that simulate activities) have been enjoying a genre renaissance lately, there’s still a decided lack of book-related titles, and so I was delighted to discover BookStory, with its charming yesteryear graphics and nostalgic UI elements.