The danger of The Sims 2
Let me tell you about the danger of The Sims 2. I bought it on eBay about a week and a half ago and haven’t been able to put it down for a very long time, doing things like neglecting homework, sleep, and other essential activities. When I was at work I would just think of what I was going to do with The Sims 2 when I got home, and probably decreased my effectiveness. Not A Good Thing.
But why was it so overwhelming? I mean, I enjoy gaming, and I always have, but rarely, if ever, has a game swept me up so suddenly and completely, especially a simulation game. Normally I don’t like sim games at all. Didn’t like any of the SimCity games, or any of the other sims, not even The Sims. (Well, I kind of liked SimAnt, but besides that there wasn’t one.)
So why did I buy it in the first place. Well, I’ve always been a great fan of customizing things to my liking, and the ability to create your own 3D person, with your custom clothes, etc. was something I wanted to check out. Plus, what annoyed me about the original Sims was the ridiculous micromanaging, which I read online had been toned down for the sequel. So I decided to give it a try. I downloaded lots of fun different “families” and house designs and ended up with a Star Trek house, a Simpsons house, even a Skywalker ranch. All well and good, and thus far a normal gameplay experience.
My first mistake was creating an avatar of me. That is, I created a Sim with my name (well, partly; the first name was Jeffery and the last name was Krit) and tried to make him look as much like me as possible. I didn’t do a very good job (his cheeks look like chipmunks, really), but it was recognizable. The problem was that by creating a representation of myself, I was basically taking everything that happened to that Sim personally, and his life took on much more importance to me than a collection of polygons and textures should.
My second mistake was creating him within a married couple. I gave myself a wife named Jennifer, which for reasons I won’t currently go into* has been my favorite name ever since seventh grade. I made her into what I want my wife to be: attractive, yet wholesome, whose first priority is her family. The problem here is that finding this woman (or one like her, anyway) is currently my goal, one which I have no idea how to accomplish. None. So just dropping it into the lap of my avatar was a bit of wish fulfillment. In fact, under the family bio that you can fill out I wrote, “What happens after Point B,” meaning what happens after I finally cross that hurdle of marrying the woman of my dreams. It’s getting there from Point A that has me worried now.
So anyway, the situation was: myself, basically, married to a beautiful, wonderful woman and about to start our life together. In the Sims 2 a married couple can have and raise kids, and that’s what happened. Five of them, to be precise. One of my utmost joys in this life will be fatherhood. Right now I only have two nieces, but the time I spend with them have been the happiest times of my recent life and possibly my whole life, so I can’t imagine how much better it will be when I have children of my own. But there “I” was, having and raising children. Being a father. All the uncertainty of the college and single years behind “me.”
It was a tempting scenario. So much so, that I really really cared about what happened to these collections of polygons. Would Joshua R. Krit get an A+ report card? Would Katie Krit end up going out with Jake Sisko? Would Tatiana Krit ever get out from under the shadow of her much more flirtatious sister? And what would the twins, Joel and Lindsay, look like when they grew up? These were questions I had to answer. I had to play it out. This was the type of life I wanted. Still do, in fact.
I became obsessed. I played every single night since I bought the game. Often until three or four hours past when I usually go to bed. I relied on Mountain Dew to get me through the workday so I could come back home to the Krit family. Even on nights where I got home at nearly midnight I would still stay up another three hours. “Just until the weekend” or “Just until the next kid grows up” or any other number of events that had to happen for me to finally stop playing for the night.
I even became a bit envious of “Jeffery Krit” and the life that he was leading. Envious! Of a polygon! I shut out my own life as much as possibly and immersed myself in “my” life. Even when I took a shower or grabbed something out of the fridge in real life I would think in terms of The Sims 2. (“I’m making Mac and Cheese. If only I had another cooking point; I could make Spaghetti instead!”)
I had to know what would happen next! How would my dream family live, survive, and thrive?
Finally, the day came when the oldest “child,” Joshua R. (named after the indomitable Joshua Reese), became an adult and moved out on his own. His focus, however, had been knowledge, and thus had made very few friends. So when he moved to his own place, he had nobody to invite over, nobody to hang out with, and most importantly, he wasn’t automatically married. Suddenly here was a guy in my situation! It was the next generation, true, but I suddenly lost all desire to play his course. I wanted to go back to the parent family and see what happened with the other kids. (Even though in the game the solution to the problem would be easy: take him to a community lot, pick a random girl, and keep clicking the “Chat” option until they were friends, etc. etc.)
That’s where I suddenly realized what was going on. I was using The Sims 2 as an escapist fantasy more than anything. In fact, when a situation came up similar to mine, I wished to avoid it at all costs! Not because it was difficult to overcome in the game, but because it reminded me of my own life and the stage it was at. But in order to fix that, what did I have to do? Certainly not sit in front of the computer for hours each night, clicking “Take a Shower” or “Dress Joel in Everyday Clothes.” In The Sims 2, “my” life was perfect. Outside, I had no social life, my homework was suffering, I was doing subpar work at my job, and I was very unhappy.
So as of today, I am quitting the Sims. I’ll never see what sort of woman Katie grows up to be, or whether Tatiana will become a doctor or an athlete. But you know what? It doesn’t matter! They’re polygons! When I truly marry my “Jennifer” and start having children, then I can stay up nights worrying about them. Until then, I’ve got a life to live and real people to meet and love. So maybe, in a few months or even years, I’ll open up my Sims file and lead Joel and Lindsay to teenagehood, but not until I’m satisfied with my own life.
It may be an uphill struggle at times, but if I stop climbing I’ll just roll to the bottom. Sure, it’s fun for a while, until you stop rolling and realize how much ground you’ve got to recoup. Anyway, I’m going to bed.
*The reason Jennifer is my favorite name is due to a dream I had when I was twelve years old. In it I was best friends with a girl named Jennifer. But it was more than friendship. I can’t say whether it was love or not, just that the bond between us was very deep. Anyway, I don’t remember the whole thing, but the part that stuck out most prominently was that she was my saving grace. I wasn’t going to make it to the celestial kingdom due to my own faults, stubbornness, and basic screwing up, but she did make it. And it was due to her influence that I somehow came with her. I won’t elaborate on how for two reasons: 1)I don’t remember them all, and 2)the ones I do remember are a bit personal to post on the World Wide Web. I don’t know if it had any significance or if it was just too much pizza or whatever, but it has always stuck out to me. Maybe that’s why I really want to get married; I have a feeling that when I meet this person in real life, whether she’s named Jennifer or not, that it will help turn me around, meaning the direction that my life is headed. I know we are all responsible for our own salvation (well, us and the Savior), but it’s easier when there’s someone who cares enough to help you along with love. And that’s why the name Jennifer has been my favorite.