Virtual People Can Be Your Friends Too

The Sims 3     I realise that I am now going to sound like a massive geek and a crazy person, but what the hell. Here it is. I think a little-thought-of avenue of inspiration for writers might be playing the computer game The Sims. Best if it's the newest one, so Sims 3. I know how it sounds, but bear with me for just one sec…

      The Sims is an open-ended life simulation game with no explicit goal or focus beyond navigating your 'Sims' through time. All the trials and tribulations of a real existence are there, such as relationships, wants, desires, jobs, children, choices and strife. You can live a character's entire life for them, or just dip in and out for snapshots and the choosing of the house, the life, the wife. You can make them the toast of the town or the saddest, most apathetic slob who meets a bad end by eating month-old waffles or falling into the ladder-less swimming pool that allows them no way out. Now, does this sound like anything else to you? Creating a character, populating their world with people and then deciding whether they live or die? It sounds like a story, doesn't it? Yes, yes, it does.

      This is where the 'finding inspiration' tag comes in: you can use Sims to trial lives. You might find, much to your surprise, that you enjoy exploring the minutiae of life as a Gaga-inspired sculptor who lacks romantic nous but dreams of having six children and a large house. Or discover that life as a politician is as boring as soup until you add some scandal and some intrigue. It might give you a new empathy for the outcast figure or, for want of a better phrase, the only gay in the village. Who is he going to be friends with, for instance? I mean this all in a rather light-hearted manner, but you never know when inspiration will strike.

      And, of course, it's fabulous fun, and by writing this I may have legitimised the 'use' of precious writing time on the most compellingly addictive computer game known to man. And it has no end.

      You are welcome.


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