Sunday, July 17, 2005

the sims are ungrateful brats

I’m sure entire dissertations have been written about The Sims, so I won’t go into what the game says about our cultural values—say, the fact that your Sims’ career success is directly related to how many friends they know.

Instead I’ll just write about how hard it is. First, I took a tour of the household Yoshiko has been lovingly cultivating for two years: Breier and Sylvia, a sexy interracial lesbian couple, are a surgeon and a venture capitalist, respectively. They live in a large house with a robot servant and a flat-screen TV. While we played, Yoshiko bought them an “aqua funhouse,” basically a giant fish tank that you can swim around in. Breier took a few lackadaisical laps while Sylvia stood outside, crossing and uncrossing her arms. Neither of their mood ratings went up. These bougie ladies were hard to please.

It was a good thing Yoshiko had recently purchased the Makin’ Magic expansion pack, which allowed Sylvia to learn a snake-charming dance and acquire items like toad sweat, magic coins and, inexplicably, butter.

Post-necklace-making, Daisye and I decided to create our own Sims family. Rana Mergoat—a cute, bespectacled Sim with a dark brown pageboy—and her dapper transman boyfriend Candle would soon be having the same sort of disposable-income fun as Breier and Sylvia, we were sure.

All we needed to do was build them a house.

The Sims should have a big banner over the top of the home-building page that says something like, “Don’t forget about scale.” We dragged and clicked obliviously, until we had a spacious house that took up most of our lot. By the time we painted and carpeted and tiled, we had like $700 left.

We put in a toilet, which took up maybe one twentieth of the inadvertently immense bathroom. We added a sink and two of the cheapest beds available, and by then we were out of money.

When Rana and Candle Mergoat moved into their empty mansion and looked at their cheap-ass beds, the little mood indicators over their heads spun blackly. They refused to look for jobs that would allow them to buy better furniture. Sims are ungrateful brats.

That was when Daisye discovered the fine print: “Our house is 3,900 square feet,” she said.

We spent the rest of the evening downsizing the McMansion, selling back our extra space window by window, tile by tile. Then we went to our real beds, which were not fancy, but very functional.

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