Foreword (yes, this post also gets a foreword): my life is lagging at the moment… no phone calls from prospective employers, no chance of moving without some form of income… so I don’t have any excitement to write about – which is kind of the whole point of this blog. But, I want to keep writing and not let this thing lapse… so I am writing about one thing that brings joy to my day… The Sims Social. Yeah… seriously.
“Developed by Electronic Arts, The Sims is a video game where you do all the things you would do in real life if you weren’t playing a video game. You create a human character, and it exists. That’s it.[…] The Sims is an escapist vehicle for people who want to escape to where they already are, which is why I thought this game was made precisely for me.” -Chuck Klosterman, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto
I will try not to sound too much like Chuck Klosterman with this post, but I have a new time sucking obsession and I need to find some way to rationalize it… or at least talk about it. Yes… I have succumbed to the power of The Sims Social on Facebook. Reluctant as I was to start (like many, I was terribly annoyed with the FarmVille craze of 2009 and refused to take part), it has become the highlight of my days and the topic of many discussions with my sister and brother-in-law (with whom I live… and attracted me to this addiction in the first place). Now remember, I am jobless and without transportation in an unfamiliar town.
As Chuck indicates, there isn’t much to it. You create a character and do stupid everyday things – eat, stay hygienic, pee, watch TV. However, unlike Chuck, I am not escaping to where I already am (yes, I do eat, stay hygienic, pee and watch TV). I’m creating an alternate universe where I am successful, rich and good at everything I do. Wow, that is really pathetic…
Like any good escapist vehicle, this one takes you out of the everyday by putting you in an alternate everyday… an easier everyday… an everyday where you don’t have to work too hard to have whatever you want/need. It only takes mere hours to earn enough Simoleons (Sim currency) to expand a home and fill said home with items such as a flat panel TV and an elephant topiary (yeah, I have my eyes on that next).
The actions of my Sim (who I have named Lisa Loeb because her default appearance strongly resembled the bespectacled songstress) revolve primarily around completing skills such as cooking/catering, painting, composing music and writing. The goal, or at least MY goal, is to keep getting to a higher skill level. Though I can’t help to think what will happen when I reach the highest possible levels on each of these skills… (yes, still pathetic).
The added element to this version of the decade old life-simulation game is that it is “live” on Facebook. I had assumed (incorrectly) that this was just another means to interact with FB friends. However, the function of FB friends (“neighbors” in the game) is to increase social interaction- one of the necessities to keep your Sim happy- and to get items required for different skills and tasks.
This is also where things can get interesting… and confusing. As my brother-in-law pointed out last night, these interactions are likely very appealing to the passive-aggressive player. Upon encountering your neighbors you have the opportunity for different types of interactions – friendly, mean or romantic. And the interactions will escalate from there resulting in those essential social points and skill/task related items. SO, since certain actions are required for different tasks, it is really easy to take out all of your frustration on someone by implying that their mother is a llama (an actual possibility) and just blaming it on the game. I don’t really think your mother is a llama… it’s just because I needed a Fury for a task. Oh, and you are really pissing me off (as is your mother, apparently).
The confusing part of the social interactions comes when you are in need of Love (the item, not the form of affection), which is something you can only get from romantic interactions with other Sims. You get one default neighbor when you sign up – the rest are your FB friends. Considering the only other neighbors my Sim had when I started were my brother-in-law and sister, things got… weird. Bella, the default neighbor, isn’t always giving with the Love and my Sim, for the sake of the game, had to flirt with the Sims of my sister and brother-in-law. Creepy.
HOWEVER, if you’re following the whole point of this post, I am not my Sim. I did not create her in my image and her house is not my dream house. I am not a piano virtuoso or brilliant chef. It is all just a GAME. And I’m not trying to wax philosophical and examine the sociological and psychological impacts of such a game – nor do I want to. It’s just not that worth reading into – just like any good escapist vehicle. Like I said before, I’m just trying to rationalize the attraction. Not really sure that I did that here… but it was kinda fun to think about.
So if you happen to be my friend on Facebook and see that I have posted something from the Sims that asks you to help me out… give me a break and click it. I (and Lisa) really appreciate it.
Photo credit: me… screen cap
Blog title song: “Time to Pretend” by MGMT