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Monday, July 10, 2006

Sims 2: Bizarre Socialization

The Girl and I have been playing PS2 Sims 2 ... fervently. It's a lovely kind of mindless fun that we can both get into at the same time. And for the most part, I can see why it's such a high selling game. It's a great example of sandbox style play and has tons of production quality to it. I can't imagine what the master list of animations looks like for this project.

Still, it's also the darling of the interactive lit crowd and that part has me a little curious. I get that emergent storytelling is nifty and all ... but I can't see anyone making the justifcation that it's good storytelling at work here. Sure, the fact that The Girl's avatar went a ghostly in a horrific kitchen fire and that my sim, on autopilot, chose to steal the roast she was preparing rather than save her is humorous ... but largely because it's so nonsensical. It's like mad libs or something.

Socializations in Sims 2 in general is pretty odd ... if not down right annoying. We were having a hard time keeping friends until we realized one basic fact: sims are, as a race, bipolar antisocial codependent freaks. The easiest way to get and maintain a friendship in the game is to call someone into bed, chat them up until they're all nice ... and then have sex with them repeatedly. Try and talk to them two seconds later, though, and so much as kiss on the cheek could ruin the relationship ... and that hug is often downright catastrophic.

Is this narrative building? Repeatedly coaxing a person who general hates you into bed only to have them disown you an hour later because they didn't like your joke and you beat them at a portable game?

I would imagine the literati would defend it with "well, you've got to start somewhere." I would agree. Apparently in the game, that somewhere will be in a six person hot tub where there's no chance of a card trick going awry.

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