Social Experimentation

Social Experimentation

Sims House

In my Austin bachelor days, I wasted much of my time and brain capacity on video games. For awhile, I was into strategy games, and this led to a brief infatuation with The Sims. For me, it was more than just a game. It was a novel way for me to recreate my world in electronic form, populating it with Sims that were based on real people. Little did I know that this innocent pasttime would turn dark (and crispy).

I began by creating a Sim neighborhood from scratch. Then I created a Sim based on myself — a single dude who was unemployed, with fuzzy dark hair and a thing for Libras. Next, I created a Sim based on my then-roommate Joanne and put the two of us in the same house. Soon enough, I had created Sims based on all of my Austin friends, including two pairs of Sims representing my sister Micha, her husband Jay, his best friend Tommy, and his wife April. Like a good diety, I rested, viewed my work and deemed it good. We all lived in one happy Sim world, visited each other’s Sim houses, and generally getting through Sim life without many hiccups.

I spent the occasional hour every now and then playing the game, trying to get my Sims to act like their real-world counterparts. After awhile, I discovered that one could let the game run by itself without interference and that the characters would go about their regular routines with just a slight splash of randomness. So the next day, I woke up, got dressed, fired up the Sims, left it on auto-pilot, and headed off to work.

When I returned home, I discovered that my sister’s Sim was dead, that her house was burned to the ground, and that her husband’s Sim had hooked up with his neighbor’s wife. I was shocked, to say the least. Utilizing the game’s rewind feature to replay the day, I observed the following chain of events:

Micha’s Sim went to the kitchen to make some breakfast. Shortly after firing up the stove, the countertop accidentally caught on fire. Her Sim began to panic, running back and forth as the flames licked the curtains and other appliances. Soon, the whole kitchen was engulfed. Instead of running away or calling 911, Micha’s Sim instead decided to participate by catching on fire herself. The smoke detector went off at this point. With haste, a fireman showed up and shot off his extinguisher. Right when he finished, Micha’s Sim was transmorigified into a sizzling pile of ash.

Her hasband Jay’s Sim came home from work to a gutted house. When he entered the kitchen, he encountered his soulmate’s ashes and broke down crying. Within a few game minutes, Jay’s Sim swept up his wife’s ashes, deposited them in an urn, and placed the container on the fireplace mantle (yep, fireplace). He began to rebuild the house, but the task was difficult because of his habit of breaking down and crying everytime he passed by the remains.

The next game day, his neighbor Tommy’s Sim wife April came over to pay a visit and her respects. Within an afternoon, she was making out with Jay’s Sim, and the pain her felt over his wife’s death faded just as quickly.

In horror, I turned off the game, never to play it again. I also vowed to never speak of that day’s events. For many weeks, I kept the secret to myself. Yet one night, I couldn’t keep it to myself anymore. “Micha, I have a secret,” I began. Then, as if in church confession, I poured forth and told her every horrible detail about my social experiment.

When I was finished, Micha was fine with the whole story. In fact, she said that it didn’t surprise her. “I’m such a crappy cook, it wouldn’t shock me if I did do something like that someday.”

When she retold the story to her husband, he wanted to know if his Sim neighbor’s wife was hot. When told it was the Sim based on his real-life best friend’s wife April, his curiousity dried up. I assume that he immediately retreated to his safe place.

Photo credit: The Sims Social Fansite