Category Archives: The Sims

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.

Sims3

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.

The Thing is, I Have a Game Trauma

Dear GTA

I want to end it with a bang, to basically give going beserk a try. This will include a lot of killing, but before we get to it, there’s something I want you to understand.

I don’t know if I am excited or uncomfortable about the thought, probably just ambivalent. The “problem” is that when I play – so does my conscience, and this is not something I have a direct control of. Suddenly I just feel bad, it’s pre-thought and I’m left fiddling with words to describe how and why.

The thing is, I have a game trauma.

Let me explain: The Sims came out as a newborn a year before you did (in 2000). I still remember watching the ads on MTV with the catchphrase “Get a Life”, and I did – but I also took one.

In The Sims, you didn’t get a child generated from the gene pool of the parents as in The Sims 2 and 3. In the original game the only option of having children was adoption, and it was a completely randomized child. The personality traits were split into 5 sections: Neatness, outgoingness, activeness, playfulness and niceness.

When you made a sim yourself, you had a total of 25 points to spend on these traits, but children, whom were generated by the game, could have both less and more. Most often I seemed to get excellent children with very high scores.

… But this one time, I got one with really low traits, she was not nice, not playful. She also had a grumpy looking face and I was thoroughly displeased and felt my promising family had been ruined by this recently inserted evil child.

So I decided the solution was to kill her, forget about her and adopt a new child.

I knew of several methods to kill sims in the game, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to put her in a room and have her starve to death, I needed something quicker and cleaner… this sounds soo wrong. *Cough*. The truth is, I had never killed a sim before, let alone a child-sim.

So I made a pool in front of the house, named it “The Trap” and made her jump in. I removed the stairs and hoped she would drown fast. Instead I watched in terror this child swim around the pool for what was probably a few sim-days, all meanwhile the parents went to work and did a lot of other mundane things completely contrasting the horror going on. I was constantly in doubt, but kept to the plan.

What I had forgotten was the hauntings dead sims will do, and thus the evil child scared me one dim evening, appearing as a ghost accompagnied by a shivering sound, walking aimlessly through the walls just to dissapear shortly after.

I knew about this feature but had forgotten, and now I was paying my dues. I had thought her death was insignificant to me.

The guilt.

I know this sim-child was not real etc etc etc, however this didn’t stop me from feeling bad about it. So I hope you are aware, that when we soon plunge into a moment of insanity together, it’s for the sake of this experiment. Maybe I’m testing my limits, maybe I’m testing you.

See you soon.

- Ironyca Lee