by Paul Smith
“The Sims 3” is the latest installment of one of the bestselling video game franchises of all time.
“The Sims” was a game originally conceived by Will Wright (who also made the original “Sim City” and the more recent “Spore”) and was a game designed to let players use their vivid imaginations to create and micro-manage computer-simulated people in a computer-simulated environment.
After an even better-selling sequel and a seemingly endless stream of add-on packs, the newest version of the Sims has finally arrived in all its people-simulating splendor.
Since I missed the first two outings of the Sims games, I decided it was time to see what all the fuss was about. So, I loaded up a fresh copy of “the Sims 3” on my computer and prepared to embark on what was sure to be a momentous journey.
As I sat out to launch my new Sims existence, I did what I imagine most do when starting this game: I created a micro-version of myself.
With the comprehensive character creation mode, you can seemingly build an endless array of Sims with different physical and metal traits. So, I created a Sim that looked remarkably like me and with a similar temperament.
“The Sims 3” also has extensive build and design modes where you can construct a house with nearly any floor plan you desire and decorate the interior to your heart’s content. I ended up with a small house that had a similar layout to the townhouse where I currently reside in the real world.
Then it’s time to send your little Sim to work, because, just as in real life, there are bills to pay. I joined a journalism career track, and before long I was writing articles for the local newspaper (you never actually get to see your Sim at their workplace).
And quickly, a rather monotonous routine developed: my Sim, who looked very similar to me and lived in very similar surroundings, would wake up, shower, go to work at a job very similar to my own, come home, eat, watch TV, occasionally hang out with friends and coworkers, then go to sleep and do it all over again.
One of the problems I immediately noticed about this game was that the AI (artificial intelligence controlling your Sims behaviors) just wasn’t very interesting.
Your Sims, and the Sims they would meet, just never did anything all that noteworthy. They would basically just repeat their totally boring and predictable routines ad infinitum. It was bit like staring at a lackluster fish tank.
It soon began to occur to me that something was very wrong here indeed. Was this really a game at all? What was the point to all of this?
My Sim’s sleep-work-eat routine repeated for several mind-numbing simulated days, and I began to truly question just what it was that I was doing. And then something happened which brought me to the breaking point.
After work one evening, my Sim was writing an article for the local newspaper on his home computer. Of course, there would never be any actual article, just your Sim going through the motions, basically pretending to write an article.
I realized that I was sitting at my computer in my home in real life watching a pretend version of myself, living a pretend similar life, pretend to write a fake article that would never see the light of day.
It was at this moment that I not only questioned what I was doing in the game, but I questioned what I was doing with my actual life.
I felt ill and nauseas, and I realized that this game… was pure evil.
In fact, I wasn’t really playing this game; this game was playing me. This “game” was not a game at all, but, more accurately, a sociological experiment in existential despair.
The only real goal I could find was the macabre reminder of the utter pointlessness of one’s own life, those trivial and endless routines that we tend to let define our entire existence.
Everything that is wrong with our meager lives comes flickering through the soft glow of the computer monitor, only trimmed down to a kind of horrific, perverse, unholy virtual voyeurism: the solipsistic self-absorption of meaningless banality that is “the Sims 3.”
So, it was then that I decided to begin playing the game with a dark sense of irony. Since this game was evil, I figured I would play it in an evil way.
No longer would I play a micro-version of myself. No, now it was time to create something hideous and horrible.
Since this was the most evil game I had ever played, I wanted to create the most evil person I could think of: Adolf Hitler.
I meticulously created Hitler to the point where it looked almost just like him, right down to the little mustache, and then I gave him the character traits of “evil genius.”
I found a flaw in the game where you could keep moving families into the same household and then kick half of them out while leaving their net-worth behind. Do this enough times and your Sims will become millionaires.
With my new found fortune, I built a massive Waco-like compound for Hitler to call home.
I built Hitler a palatial Victorian-style upstairs bedroom with wooden floors, antique furniture and numerous bookcases.
And since my intention was to turn this into a house of horrors, I constructed a dungeon on the first floor.
The dungeon had rock covered walls, a couple of torches for light, and an unsettling altar with a garden gnome on top of it.
It was time to take some prisoners.
I sent Hitler out into the world to meet unsuspecting Sims and entice them back to the compound.
I found it very easy to trap innocent Sims in my dungeon. After inviting someone over, I would simply walk Hitler into the dungeon and call the guest over to chat.
Once they were in the dungeon, I would quickly pause the game and build four short walls around the unsuspecting Sim. Then I would un-pause the game and make Hitler leave the room, pause the game once again, remove the door to the dungeon and the short walls surrounding the Sim and —voilà!— I successfully had a prisoner.
I believe the lesson here, is that if Adolf Hitler ever invites you into his dungeon, just say, “No, thank you.”
It wasn’t long before I had captured five prisoners. They all basically stood around screaming for help, urinating on themselves and eventually passed out from exhaustion where they stood. Then they would wake up and do it all over again.
Mind you, all of this being evil and capturing prisoners was mildly amusing for about an hour or two, and then the mind-numbing banality resurfaced and, once again, I questioned what I was doing with my life.
And while seriously contemplating my life choices, the Sims I had taken prisoner began to die – after all, they had no food to eat.
After a few short frolics with this horrendous game, I went from creating a micro-version of myself that filled my real self with existential misery to creating a micro-version of Hitler that captured, tortured, and eventually murdered people by starving them in his dungeon.
I had run the gamut of emotions, from narcissistic despair to homicidal rage. The game had turned me into a simulated-serial killer.
“The Sims 3” is not only perhaps the worst game I have ever played, but my experience playing it will rank as one the most disturbing and nightmarish events of my life.
So, if you’re looking to play a game that isn’t really a game at all, but more a psychological exercise in grave self-loathing and doubt that just may drive you to the edge of sanity and morality – well, then, by all means, play this wretched excuse for a video game at your own risk.