Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sim City and Real Life

I'm catching up on a few back issues of FIRST THINGS magazine. Even after the death of long-time editor Richard John Neuhaus, I almost always turn first to the While We're At It section at the back---the section Neuhaus always wrote himself and which is now handled by Joseph Bottum. Here's an interesting take:

"'I'm a feminist graduate of an all-women's college who has vowed to never change my name or end my career to raise children full time--though I would never undervalue the work that many women do in their home,' Monica Potts assures us in the American Prospect, but, to her horror, in all of her virtual reality games (and kudos to her for admitting how many virtual reality games she plays) she chooses conservatively.
'My Sims are conservative,' she admits. 'I'm in complete control of them, but for some reason their lives aren't anything like the life I consider ideal in the real world...My Sims rarely remain single long into adulthood. My wives always take their husbands' last names. They don't just have children; they bear lots of them. And they leave their careers to take on the lion's share of care-giving duties.'
It gets worse, or better, depending on your point of view: An expert on Sim City, she reports that 'things function much more smoothly if taxes are low and city government caters to corporate interests,' while 'wind energy is fine in theory, but old-fashioned petroleum and coal facilities really make them run.'
Potts blames the parameters of the game; they just make it so much easier to be a conservative: 'Having children has the added bonus of extending game time in The Sims, because I get to continue to play the same family as the generations roll by. Maternity leave is mandatory for pregnant Sim women because of a long-standing technical issue within the game..."
FT April 2011 issue; P 69

Art--or virtual reality--imitating life.
I don't know: if I'm going to dabble in virtual reality games, I suppose I'd try living out a life different from my own. So that may explain this puzzling phenomena. You can't forever blame the parameters of a game. If you know them as well as this lady knows her game, you'd eventually find a way to game the system. But there is a winsomeness to the realization that, if your wives have many children, you get to play "longer." Sweet.

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