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Livin' With The Sims
theAntiELVIS explores the wild and wacky world that is Will Wright's The Sims, asking the inevitable quesiton, "is The Sims the first step toward a virtual life where everyone is Swedish?"

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Livin' With the Sims

Vol. 2, Issue 15
March 13, 2000

I'm playing this game and I'm thinking about stuff that has names like biology, sociology, and psychology. About what elements of similarity in two personalities make people compatible, and what differences make them interesting. And race relations. And what, exactly, is my stand on same-sex marriage? Y'know, I don't think about these things when I play other games.

Polygamy, Death by Fire, and Why the Swedes are so Ornery

The von Prangs of the Prussian nobility immigrated to Sweden after the war, where they established a banking and legal empire in SimCity. Unfortunately the family fortune was squandered on bad laetrile investments in the 1960s, and now young Otto von Prang must make his own way in the world as a security guard on the graveyard shift.

Ultimately, The Sims is about ego. Not those of the little doll-people on the monitor - they don't have any - but about the self-perception of the player. If you're a power freak, it's a god-game, and your sims will rarely exercise their "free will" mode. If you're a builder person, you'll see the lives of the sims as a revenue producing process that lets you build bigger and buy better. So it's an economic/building game. If you're a tyrant sicko you'll build a house with no doors, and move the 'fridge out into the front yard every other day. While sims have a handful of "personality traits" that define their behavior, The Sims has more to say about your personality by placing these fragile virtual lives in your care. How you deal with it says a lot.

At first I identified with the game's animated denizens. They do the same things I do. They go to work, they pay bills, they make dinner, they clean up, they sleep and use the bathroom. And they make and lose friends, fall in love, have fun and get depressed. Tough not to see a bit of ourselves in all this. Okay, I don't go to the bathroom eighteen times a day, nor do I have "accidents" on the living room carpet. And I work a bit more than six hours a day, and if I took every other day off I would definitely get fired. And polygamy is illegal. And I have a car. And I have political and spiritual opinions. And then there's sex - sims don't get any. They hug and kiss and give each other back-rubs a lot. Like the nice part of an EST seminar before they lock you in the little room for two days. It's as if life has been reduced to physical existence, where interaction with objects takes precedence over interaction with people. Sims live their lives in a sort-of valium haze always partially disconnected from their environment. Like the other night Otto had a little problem in the kitchen when the stove caught fire. At one point Otto caught fire. Not only were several visitors completely unaware of Otto's predicament, Otto himself seemed fairly disinterested in the fact that he was consumed in roaring flames. I like to think that if I were doing an impromptu impersonation of the Human Torch, my pals might snag a rug to roll me in.



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Credits: Illustration © 2000 Tinusch. This article is © 2000 theAntiELVIS. All other content is © 2000 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited. So don't do it, or we'll deport you.