Last week, I was accused of making fun of people who play The Sims. I don’t know if this was in jest or not, but I took it to heart, either way. (And perhaps “accused” is too strong a work, but I can’t find a better one.) It’s true that I’ve tried to play variations of The Sims in the past and just didn’t get it. But, that doesn’t mean I don’ think it has value. In fact, I’ve always wished I could get into The Sims because I’ve always heard such great stories from the game. So, I decided I should give it another try. I decided to start with Sims 3 instead of Sims 4 because I already own Sims 3. (More on that later.)
Revisiting The Sims was important to me after this conversation because years ago, when dr. b started talking to me about gaming and this blog, I was a little hesitant for a couple of reasons. The first being that I didn’t want my games destroyed by, um, thinking. I know I’m not alone in this; I hear this argument all the time: “I just want to play the games not worry about the politics.” But, the more I read about gaming and the more awesome discussions I had about gaming, the more I’ve come to want just that in my games. Maybe it’s a combination of my growth as a student and a scholar, but more and more I want to engage in social issues. Games allow me to engage in ways that movies or novels don’t allow (or don’t do as well). Last night, I was playing through a particularly disturbing scene in Dead Rising 3. (I’m finally playing Dead Rising 3!!). In this particular scene, I was initially creeped out by the way one of the women was being treated. But, by the time I got to the part that made me shudder, it was just me (playing as Nick, of course) against a really scary dude. It wasn’t just that he had a more lethal weapon; it was his whole persona. His words and mannerisms freaked me out. And, unlike a movie or novel, I’m sitting there with the controller and I have to engage with this dude in a much more active way. And, I was scared because (maybe spoilers here? But the game has been out for a year…) this gang of bikers had kidnapped my female friend, and they obviously had bad intentions, and I had to face this gang leader who clearly had zero morals. We don’t live in an apocalyptic world, and this is all obviously an exaggeration, but at the same time, it’s still a reflection of the world and the people who occupy the world. I find that fascinating.
The second reason I was hesitant to talk about games at first was, well, because of Dead Rising. I had this sense that “real” gamers were playing certain types of “cool” games, like Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto. Not that I would make fun of people who play those games either, I just have never been able to get into them. In the case of Grand Theft Auto though, I have the same regret as I do with The Sims. I want to play it because I’ve heard a lot about the social commentary in the game. Alas, I really suck at driving those cars. Anyway, years ago, I felt like someone would discover that I really loved Dead Rising above all else and deem me not worthy. This was all before I got to know these awesome ladies, and even though we sometimes make fun of each other’s game choices, I know it’s totally ok that I love Dead Rising.
So, back to The Sims. I decided I would try to play The Sims 3 for at least an hour a day for five days to try to get a real sense of the game. This did not work out for me, exactly. The first day, I tried to reinstall it on my Mac and it wouldn’t work. So, I moved to my (very flakey) PC. I finally got it going on the second day. I got to work making my Sim. She bought a house and got a job. I was learning more about the things that might change her mood and cause things to happen. She was supposed to start her job in 21 hours. I’ll admit I’m curious how that went. But, I guess I will never know because I haven’t been able to get the game to open since that first day. I’ve heard a lot of complaints against Origin over the years, but I’ve never really played there. I guess this is what people mean?
Anyway, I played it enough to both understand the appeal and to admit that it’s not a game I need to get into right now at any rate because I sense it can be time consuming. But the point is: play what you want, whatever games bring you joy. If you enjoy The Sims, play it! If you enjoy Farmville type games, play them! (I won’t because I have enough time management problems as it is.) For my part, I’m thrilled that I finally bit the bullet and got Dead Rising 3. That franchise just brings me joy. (Even Dead Rising 2. I may not love Dead Rising 2 enough to return to it over and over, but it was good for a play through.) At the end of the day, games are meant to be fun. For me, part of the fun has become engaging with the social commentary, and maybe someday when I’m not writing a dissertation and I can get the game to actually work, I might give The Sims another go.