Wednesday, July 24, 2002

Simulated God Complex

You don't know how tedious it is to be in complete control of someone until you play The Sims. At first you think, oh what fun to have complete control over a bunch of people! A control-queen's dream! You get to play God! Or Goddess, as the case may be.

But these little people are so damned stupid! You have to do everything for them! They're like little children. If you don't tell them to go to the bathroom, they'll wet themselves. If you don't tell them to call up their friends, they get lonely, and then yell at you as if it's your fault! You have to tell them to have fun, to eat dinner, to go to work, to water their plants, to feed their fish, to kiss their boyfriends. And then if they get depressed, they won't even do what you tell them, they'll just yell at you in pictograms and complain about how unhappy they are.

I'm beginning to think that God didn't expel Adam & Eve from the Garden because they disobeyed...He was just tired of seeing to all their little wants all day every day.

But still, it's so addictive. It's why I haven't been blogging the last few days. On Saturday I was sitting in front of the computer at home, I couldn't think of anything to write about, and there wasn't much of interest to read. Here on the desk was the CD ROM for the Sims game, right on top of the Maria Callas CD, where it's been sitting since I got tired of playing with the game several months ago. I didn't have anything more interesting to do, so I put the game in and started playing.

I discovered almost immediately that the thing I had been doing wrong in the past, why I had not enjoyed the game after a very short time, was that I was trying to do too much at once. I had only played with couples and trios in each family, afraid that my sims would get lonely and bored if they lived alone. Yet my sims were always unsuccessful, I couldn't do anything with them, they would become unhappy almost immediately, they never got along with each other, and it was a lot of work seeing to their multitudinous little needs.

So what I did this time was to create a sim who lived alone, and made sure that the rest of the neighborhood was stocked with plenty of people for him to interact with. I also discovered that words you write into the "Bio" window of the Create-a-Sim applet will actually apply to the Sim you create...if you say that the Sim likes to read, likes classical music, and likes dancing, those three things will increase his Fun levels when you let him do them.

The Sim me, enjoying his new know it's not reality by how great I look in a Speedo.

The single sim, named of course after myself and sporting dark hair and glasses with a preppy wardrobe, was so much easier to take care of alone. He had more money, he was able to get to the potty easier, and he seemed fairly happy. His neighbors dropped by at intervals, and he interacted with them, and eventually got himself a boyfriend from a neighboring house (another thing I hadn't known...sims are inherently bisexual, and if they only interact with men they become gay... very much like Kinsey's concept of Institutional Homosexuality).

Gay sims...who'd a thunk?

I had a hard time with this homemade sim, because I had difficulty balancing his social life with his professional life, and he didn't like his jobs so he kept missing work... plus, my home computer is kind of slow on the uptake (plenty of running space but the input devices aren't well-driven), and I couldn't react as quickly as I should have in certain situations.

So when I got to the office on Monday, I brought the disk with me and recreated the Sim Robert Manners in a more controlled environment... I stocked the rest of the neighborhood with people I thought he might like, all male to ensure his homosexuality (I want him to be like me, don't I?), and kept his house spacious and simple so that there was plenty of room, with a good balance between privacy and not-too-many-walls.

Robert Manners's house at 9 Sim Lane

Cutaway view of same, showing interior layout.

Closeup showing luxurious appointments.

So, aside from the unusually high but satisfyingly doable levels of work that have crossed my desk in the last three days, I have kept almost exclusively to The Sims and my tiny simulated Robert Manners' life. He's currently working as a campaign manager, he is an accomplished painter and knows how to fix household appliances, he has a good friend named Duc Phillipe de Guermantes (the patriarch of the Proust-inspired Guermantes Family at 5 Sim Lane, the Victorian house with cemetery adjacent), and he even has a boyfriend named Boy Mulcaster Darling (from the Darling family of 10 Sim Lane, all of whom are named for characters in one of my favorite novels, Brideshead Revisited...his brothers are Sebastian Flyte Darling and Charles Ryder Darling).

Robert and Boy smooching in the bathroom.

The whole thing has been highly entertaining. And one does feel more satisfaction exercising one's control issues when one is actually successful. I am going to keep on playing with the Sim Robert Manners until he eventually disappoints me (as all of our controlling codependent relationships always eventually disappoint us), just to see how far in life he can go.

But I feel bad that I neglected you, by beloved reader, while micromanaging the simulated Robert's life. Unfortunately, the best I can do at the moment is to babble on about my sims, so perhaps you were better off. In closing, here's a nice picture for your delectation which is not about Sims (though they could be made into sims, if I had the right expansion pack).

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