maura @ 5:33 pm
Last weekend Gus couldn’t stop talking about My Sims, which he’d watched his friend play on the schoolbus. So Jonathan broke out our 9-yr-old copy of The Sims and installed it on his computer. Gus was extremely obsessed for about 72 hours, though it’s since faded. The interface is actually kind of difficult to manipulate, and I’d forgotten how clunky it is to move furniture around, build new rooms, etc. Ultimately I think the intensive mousing required got Gus down.
Short as it was, the obsession was intense, and brought me right back to my own obsession when we first got the game years ago. It’s true that Gus was much more amused by certain aspects of the Sims than I; of course it cracks him up that the sims forget to relieve themselves and have accidents. And he didn’t care as much about decorating as I did. He was always annoyed when his prissy sims complained about the blue formica table that Gus bought for them. (The simplistic consumerism of the game is kind of hilarious — they are happy when you buy them nice stuff! How realistic!)
But I was surprised by some of his inventive strategies. He bought his sims a computer before getting a TV, explaining: “they can use the computer to play games and look for jobs.” Ultimately, he had to buy them a TV because his woman sim didn’t want to play video games and needed something fun to do (blurgh, Will Wright, I lost a little respect for you on that one).
Somewhat alarming was the realization that in many ways Gus and I played the game very much the same. Just like in real life, Gus hoarded his money and bought his sims something expensive only when it really seemed necessary (e.g., when he realized that the fancy computer breaks less often than the basic model). And he spent lots of time really scripting every move for his sims. The sims will take care of some, but not all, of their “needs” automatically, and if you really want to do well in the game you need to control most of their actions. Gus realized this pretty quickly, as did I, and we both got kind of obsessive in trying to make them do the “right” things. So it was kind of weird watching him play.
This week we were both back to our regularly scheduled games: Gus and friends can’t get enough of Super Smash Bros Brawl on the Wii, and I’m still rocking Harbor Master on the iPhone.