The message of Paperboy is rather simplistic. It is a very fundamental lesson in Capitalism and working under a perfectly free Capitalistic ideology. This is the spiritual precursor to the events witnessed in Bioshock.
In Paperboy you play as a young boy with a brand new job, a paper route. What could be more American? In the game you must ride down the street on your bike and attempt to throw each newspaper into the mail box or onto the door step, receiving points for either achievement, or both. This demonstrates a clear connection between work out and profit in. If you work twice as hard you get twice the points, but if you work half as hard, you get half the points. This plays off another aspect of the game, being able to throw any number of newspapers provided you have the resources. This demonstrates a clear philosophy that waste is perfectly fine, so long as the job at hand is accomplished and you have more resources to waste. This leads to the theft of newspapers to keep production up, even in the event of continual waste, which leads to the more nefarious aspects of the game.
As you will quickly find, you are rewarded for destroying the private property of those houses that are not your customers. In Paperboy II these houses diametrically opposed to each other. Some houses are monstrous, castle like structures with dragons shooting fireballs at you. The others are split level homes that are very obviously in the “impoverished” bracket of income, as indicated by the owner’s possession of a Rottweiler, pointing at a bit of racism. This symbolizes the (then recently) defeated Soviets and the gross disparity between the wealthy and poor.
Something else that interested me was that if you manage to make a perfect run, delivering a newspaper to all of your customers, you gain another customer. This shows that you can only win people to your side by example, and more importantly, by the distribution of your propaganda, the newspaper. As you spread your misinformation, and destruction, you slowly win people to your side, gaining customers.
Another aspect present in Paperboy is corporate espionage. Throughout the game there are many traps for you, and they are all ways for the competition to get a leg up on you. Remote control tires, break-dancing (or undressing?) guys, lawn mowers, angry housewives, etc.; all of these exist to stop you from delivering your papers and cause a regression of your business. In a truly free market businesses would be able to wage no holds bar wars on each other trying to stunt the growth or out right destroy other business, and we all know how that would end up.
The final aspect of the game is the “training course”, where you demonstrate your skills and basically have a free pass to show off and do whatever you want because despite whether you complete the course or not, you will not lose a life. This is analogous to the industry conventions such as E3, Sundance, the numerous others that I’m sure exist. There isn’t anything particularly special about this place, except that you get to give a dramatized version of your “game”, and oversell yourself because there are no consequences. We often see carefully orchestrated presentations designed to hype up the consumer, regardless of the quality of the product being advertised. Fairly obvious examples of this would be that Dead Island trailer that was so incredible, other pre-rendered trailers that provide absolutely no information on the game, Apple demos, ect.
Apparently there isn’t a wiki for Paperboy, so I broke out my NES and played it to research it. Man this song is catchy.
If anyone has any requests or ideas, don’t hesitate to fill the comment section with them.