Myke Olson
November 05, 2002
LCC 4400
The Sims (Week 12)
Floating Green Crystal

I had my first experience with The Sims this past week -- I finally went out to CompUSA and got a copy of the Mac version. I was very excited; this was a game that friends and the press had raved about for a year now and I was finally going to play it. I opened the game and sat through the 5 minutes of introductory videos before getting to the tutorial. The game does not appear to be too complicated...buttons that switch between various modes, panels to select and buy furniture, etc. After learning how to play the game, I started to tell my two Sims to do things. I started by trying to make my Sims fall in love. I told the female character (who had just walked into a house of someone she didn't know) to go over and rub the male character's back. She refused. I decided she should start by talking to the man who had just stepped out of the shower. After that, I was able to convince her to rub his back, which proved to be a positive experience for both. Soon, they were hugging and kissing at my command and then the love hearts started to appear. I decided to give the two characters a chance to improvise on their own. The result? The male character decided to just walk away and water the flowers on the other side of the house. The female just stood there, staring at the space where he once stood. Perhaps she was just so shocked that he would just walk away after they had just fallen in love.

Enjoying my role as Cupid, I told the female to walk back over to the male, who promptly walked away from her. This was repeated several times with the same result. Next, I went for broke and tried to get my Sims to consummate their relationship. I clicked on the bed and selected the only option, "sleep." Next, I told the female to do the same. They slept. Even though all of the lights were on, the phone was ringing, and the radio was blaring in the kitchen, they didn't seem to mind. Quickly bored with watching my Sims sleep, I had the female get up and turn off the light. Interacting with the various objects around the house was less challenging than having two characters interact with each other. She called the police for no reason, turned the TV on, made a sandwich, and sat down at the table. The police quickly showed up and told her that it was not nice to call them for no reason. Pretty soon after that, I got bored with my Sims and I quit the game, free to occupy by other virtual life, online.

The Sims is a wonderful concept -- playing God with a handful of virtual characters on the computer. We quickly discover, however, the complexity of human interactions. These relationships are so complex that even the most simple of which can not be simulated on a computer. Simulations work on either a lower (cellular) or higher (such as in SimCity) level, but not yet at the level of a single human being. It's easy to imagine a world where that type of simulation would be possible. Once the technology is developed to create a realistic computer game, it would be trivial to design a robot around a PC and you would have an android right out of various SciFi movies, such as Not Quite Human, Short Circuit, or RoboCop. The technology does not appear to be up to par yet.

I also find the upcoming Sims Online an interesting advance in technology and I expect this to be more interesting than the stand-alone version. I expect the Sims Online to be similar to the already established Habbo Hotel. In this online Shockwave game, you control a character (although the graphics are not nearly as sophisticated as in The Sims) and talk to various different people around the Hotel. This online chatrooms with avatars are really just fancy versions of MUD's, but it is an important step in the advancement of technology. Originally, people would represent themselves with a textual description. Now, we're using simple colored graphics. Next, we may use a full-size, full-quality hologram representation of ourselves...or the character we want to be.

In conclusion, I can see why The Sims has such a cult following as it does and why it continues to sell copies in retail stores. If I had played the game and gotten into it before Halloween, a cool costume would have been to dress in normal clothes, but have a green crystal floating above my head. The Sims is in no way an accurate representation of The Real World, but if you willingly suspend your disbelief, it is an enjoyable source of entertainment.