Friday, August 01, 2014

The Gamer

As a kid my favorite toys were my paper dolls.  I had a huge carton where I kept all the clothing for the dolls but I only played with two of the actual dolls themselves.  One was designated for whichever friend had enough imagination to play paper dolls with me; my doll was always Susan Hayward.  It didn't matter that the clothes may have come from other dolls -- we would cut and alter to make them fit the dolls we were playing with.  We had hundreds of outfits to choose from and we could imagine lifestyles for our "girls" that were, to us, wildly exotic and full of adventure. 

Sometime around age 12 I gave up toys but I held on to my box of paper dolls even into adulthood.  Along with nearly all my childhood dreams, they were left behind when I finally moved out of my mother's house in 1973.  She gave everything of mine away to Goodwill as punishment so now I only had my memories of the fun I had with those paper dolls.  At least twice a year I check out paper dolls on the web but quickly realize that those days have long passed me by. 

Sometime around 2000, I found The Sims computer game and bought my first edition.  The fun was that no goals were set in playing the game, you simply created a "virtual" human (a Sim), built him or her a house, and made a life for the creature.  I loved building the houses and decorating them.  I loved creating huge wardrobes for my Sim.  I wasn't much into the actual living arrangements of my creation but there were plenty of cheats I could access to make sure that my Sim had enough money to buy the materials to create the perfect home and live the perfect life.  There was also a great community of creative folks out there making lots of additions to the game and the company that built the game (Maxis) kept adding new versions (Pets, University Life, Vacation Life, etc.) to ensure I spent plenty of money to keep my Sim current.

The only problem was that if you downloaded enough of the user creations eventually you would find one that would blow the game off your computer.  The number of times I had to reinstall The Sims games and then sort through which download had caused problems finally made the game nearly impossible.  Plus Electronic Arts gained control of the game and issued a new version of it -- Sims 2  which I didn't find those nearly as much fun to play.  Each addition to the game began requiring more and more computer memory and high-end graphics and I finally gave up my Sim life. 

Still, I always remembered just how much fun the original game had been, and just like my paper dolls of eras past, I wanted one more go at creating a perfect Sim.  Just as I retired I discovered that the original Sims game was free for download so I accessed it.  Most of the great user created objects / characters had now vanished so the game wasn't nearly as much fun for me. 

I began looking at Sims 3, a game I had never tried.  The game could be downloaded now -- initially you had to buy it by disk -- so I tried it out for the cheap price of around $20 for the original plus two other additions / worlds.  It can also be played interactively with others, but I'm much too much of a loner to want others messing around in my created worlds. 

My addiction began all over again and this time around EA (Electronic Arts) had noted the user created problems and retained control of the process through an Exchange that only put out items that were safe to install in your game. They now offer Sim dollars (which you have to purchase in $20 increments) that allow you to add more objects and worlds to your game, besides all the free downloads.

I currently have all the worlds and many of the upgraded venues.  My Sims creations are numerous, though I'm not exactly creative.  If I know you, you are probably in my Sim game, living in a palace filled with exotic furnishings and taking vacations to China, France, or India.  You might or might not have children, but you certainly have a pet -- a dog, a cat, a horse, or something only a Sim could create (like maybe a unicorn).  Nearly all my Sims have been to college and most have a degree.  You don't have extensive wardrobes like in the past but you live in the most grand creations that take hours of my time to build and decorate.  Most of you live by the sea, though mountains are plentiful, too.  You can travel to the future, snorkel in the ocean, live on a houseboat, and "woohoo" with the most popular Sim in the game. 

Instead of blogging I'm busy creating my own fantasy world, filled with only rich, educated, smart people living the grand life.  Incidentally,  EA is releasing Sims 4 in the fall.  I've actually had to have the conversation with Hubby about getting a more "graphic" computer, so I can continue my life of game playing.  Clearly this addition is not abating. 

Here is what Wikipedia says about The Sims:

The success of The Sims resulted in Guinness World Records awarding the series five world records in the Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008. These records include "World's Biggest-Selling Simulation Series" and "Best Selling PC Game of All Time" for the original The Sims game, which sold 16 million units, 100 times EA's original projection of 160,000 units.

1 comment:

Margaret said...

It sounds like wonderful escapism!! Am I in your game? If so, I hope I'm living in a French castle. :)