Tag Archives: Video Games

The Matrix Unfolding Inside my Computer Game

Meet Bruce and Madeline!

They are both playable robot sims in my Sims 3 neighborhood and have made quite the stir already.

Bruce and Madeline

This picture shows Bruce and Madeline mid-conversation.

Simbots can be purchased using the lifetime happiness points of one of your human sims. They become a member of your household and are meant to keep your sim company.

But Bruce is a total dick! If I leave him wandering around public lots, he will usually get into arguments with other sims. Once he broke someones’ laptop and then just ate it in front of them (he can eat junk as food – literally). He has also managed to kiss both Madeline and his other female roommate Maya and now they both have a crush on him! Would it surprise you if I said his lifetime wish is to see the ghost of his wealthy (and thus dead) spouse?

His traits are:

  1. Inappropriate
  2. Childish
  3. Hydrophobic
  4. Mean spirited
  5. Evil

Yeah, Bruce is just a total dick.

Madeline is the exact opposite, her traits are:

  1. Brave
  2. Ambitious
  3. Great kisser
  4. Hydrophobic
  5. Slob

She wants to become an astronaut.

Currently they both live with the sims who bought them: tech-savvy brother and sister Cee and Maya. But the question is whether these simbots will be satisfied with a life as someone else’s sidekick. I think The Matrix might unfold inside my computer game.


Cee and Maya in their house. Cee looks like he may have sensed the upcoming rebellion….

I didn’t design Bruce and Madeline, I didn’t choose their personality traits. These are randomized whenever a simbot is purchased. But since these two robots are such characters, I felt like I found a hook, something interesting could happen here.

Here are the rules for me playing my Sims 3 neighborhood from now on:

  • Aging – ON (this means sims will eventually grow old and DIE)
  • Free will – ON (If I don’t prompt them, sims will find stuff to do on their own)
  • Story progression – ON (Sims can move in and out of the neighborhood, they can get married and have kids. Basically it keeps the neighborhood alive and balanced – stuff happens to your sims even when you’re busy playing another sim)
  • Whatever happens, happens. No reloading of a previous save.
  • Follow the wishes of the sim, letting them be as authentic as possible to who they are.
  • Let their free will dictate their choices sometimes.
The Sims 3 user interface, here with Bruce selected.

The Sims 3 user interface, here with Bruce selected.

Letting the game have a life of its own

I used to play The Sims as a commanding officer running a military unit. Nothing was left to happen at random, there was an end goal with the sims I had created, and I would make sure they would reach it whatever it took. I’ve now let go of my tiger-mom-syndrome and have learned to appreciate events that occur without me dictating them. Letting my sims go through important milestones in their little sim lives without me being there, is provoking to me, but nothing exciting happens under that model of play either. So in a way, this is also an exercise for me to let go of the things (and sims) I care about, in order for them to be more free, dynamic and surprising.

What if Madeline never becomes an astronaut and has a happy fulfilling life? I would hate that, but that is the risk associated with this new play style. Part of me also find it deviously intriguing to see what Bruce will do, and what he will want me to do.

Midnight Release

Two days ago I walked down to my local Blockbuster and reserved a physical copy of Mists of Pandaria. Beforehand I had checked several online services but decided it was more reliable to go myself and pick it up at midnight.

On the way back I was reminded of the release day of Wrath of the Lich King. I had done it the same way and remembered how it felt standing in line in the store, which was practically full of devoted WoW fans. (The only reason Cataclysm was different was because I was too busy on release day, so I bought it several days late)

I know a lot of people have bought the digital download, it’s easy and convenient, but I want the box too. Soon it’ll be like a souvenir to have all that old-fashioned wrapping, I’m sure. Maybe in the future the only way to get the “full package” is by buying collector’s edition.

In my world, there’s also another plus. The thrill of suspense as you stand in line, one by one the other WoW players leave the store with sparkly eyes. Soon you’re one of them.

I also get to sneak a peek at all the local players, people I have no idea who are, they live near me, we share the same hobby, but we are strangers. It’s an odd feeling, but standing in a room surrounded by them, I feel part of something bigger, I get a glimpse of a tiny slice of the online community as it appears when we all “play our human mains”. Or you could say that cross realm zones exist in the offline world too…

And then I will go home, log in to the new expansion and play while still high on that buzz.

Happy expansion day everyone!