Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Summa Contra Sims

Sims 3 just made a nicely symmetrical leap to PlayStation 3, so now PS owners can relish in the tedium in HD. Me? I'd still rather play Prototype, which is now available as one of 360's Platinum Hits for only $30, and it's still worth a look. Here's a spot I wrote last year about both games, and my remarkable indifference related to all things Sims. 

Long ago, I came to the conclusion that The Sims was designed for Someone Else. I don’t know who. Hottentots, perhaps.

I played through The Sims 3 with awe, respect … and profound boredom. It’s a brilliant piece of work, and if God is kind I’ll never have to play it again this side of Purgatory.

Meanwhile, I’ve been returning to Prototype. I like Prototype. I also liked it when it was called Spider-Man 2 and Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. If a game is worth playing once, it’s worth playing two more times with different character models.

Games are all about wish-fulfillment and power fantasies. Some people are content to wield their mighty power to get three gems in a row. Others would prefer to jump ten stories in their air and punch a helicopter out of the sky. If you have the opportunity to do the former, I have no idea why you’d choose to do the latter, but people are strange.

Adult male gamers tend to follow the groove of their childhood fantasies into adulthood. As a kid, my daydreams ranged toward Conan, Professor Challenger, the Six Million Dollar Man, and G.I. Joe. (Also: I wanted a pet werewolf.) If someone makes a game in which a muscular Cimmerian gets fitted for a cybernetic arm with kung-fu grip and leads his Adventure Team into a jungle swarming with dinosaurs that time forgot!, I’d never leave the house. Until then, Prototype will do fine.

My childhood fantasies never ran toward being, say, an interior decorator, or a guy who humps his way to a crummy job and home to a barely furnished tract house every day. That’s actually the polar opposite of “fantasy.” Some people call it “reality,” or perhaps just “life.” Others call it The Sims 3.

I’m baffled when people deride a certain piece of art or entertainment as “mere escapism.” What the hell else is it supposed to be? You may escape into high-minded flights of the intellect or emotional insight, or into a place where a man in a loincloth chokes a T-Rex with his mighty pneumatic hand, but you are escaping. I’d rather not spend those precious moments of escape redecorating someone else’s make-believe house.


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