I’ve never considered myself a problem gamer, while my brothers have been known to miss meals or stay up until dawn to finish a mission, I’ve always been able to set a time I’m going to spend playing, and when that time ends, I can save and quit, or log off, or close the DS, and move on to whatever else I wanted to do that day. Except for one game. Sims. Any and all platforms. Original, 2, and 3. I’m excited for the release of 4, even though my computer doesn’t have the specs to handle it. I’ll find a way to play it.
But sometimes I wonder why Sims had such a strong hold on me. Actually, I know why. It allowed me a modicum of control that I utterly lacked in my real life. Absolute power. While in my real life I was the underaged eldest child in a single parent household where every tube of lipgloss and young adult vampire book I bought came out of the wages I earned at my weekend job, in The Sims I could play as a quirkily dressed, perfect haired, independent young adult. My sims went to college, as I feared I would never do, they had the jobs I hoped I might one day have, upper middle class wealth was just ctrl+shift+c motherlode away. Also, I held the power of life and death and interior decorating all in the same hand.
This authority over the characters I created was both an outlet for my own teenage fears and a record of my aspirations. Immersing myself in that universe eased my anxieties while providing no balm for my real life situation. But it helped for a while. Did I feel responsible for my characters’ well being? Sometimes. Did I drown them by deleting the ladder? Naturally. It was an outlet for my natural creativity and storytelling as much as it was for my cynicism and raw hatred of nothing in particular.
I guess this all goes back to the fact that gamers create the purpose of a game. There are multiple “strategies” for playing The Sims games, but none of them are considered official. Though other games have a general objective, save the day, beat the bad guy, win the hand of the princess, the way the game progresses, and the rate at which it does, is entirely up to the player. The Sims is simply not possible in any other medium, while there are adaptations of games that have made it to film, or are based on film, or on books, there is no way to accurately capture the multiplicity inherent to the game medium. That’s a really fancy way of saying you can do whatever you want in games and end up in the same place as everybody else eventually. It’s also a good way of telling you why video games are so enjoyable, they allow truly individual experience of a medium.
So, as this is my final post of the semester, let’s think a little bit about the fact that the way people play video games is as important as the game content, and that’s why I, a female in her early twenties, am proud to say I am a gamer, because I play Sims.