Sim Brother Is Watching You

When I’m on the computer, I spend a lot of my time either writing posts or playing The Sims 3, so I thought maybe I could combine the two. One thing I noticed is that kids have an automatic curfew (somewhat later for teens than for children), and if they violate it the police can pick them up and take them home, where they’ll automatically be scolded and sometimes punished by an adult. The adult can let the child off the hook at the player’s command, but it still seems like a weird concept to me. Then again, I didn’t grow up in a place that had a mandatory curfew, and when I did hear of the idea I thought it was strange. My thought would often be, “What if they need to go to the convenience store and pick up a paper at midnight because they forgot to do current events?”, which happened to me every once in a while. One of my teenage Sims was picked up for staying too late at an art gallery, talking to a friend. What a little hellion! Of course, if someone is robbing your house, the cops won’t even show up unless you have a burglar alarm installed or someone calls them.

Their omniscience only works for tracking curfew violators, apparently. It’s like how, if you neglect a baby in the original Sims game, a social worker will just show up and take it away. And if your kid gets terrible grades, they’ll automatically be shipped off to military school. Beth was playing once and tried to trick the game by hiding the baby behind a wall, and the social worker teleported in to take it. If the player is God, does that mean the social services are more powerful than God?

I can see why they do it, because they don’t want players to be able to torment children for too long (although they can still kill them), but the mechanic comes off as a bit bizarre. I guess I’m used to games where the player characters can get away with anything, up to and including stealing things from people’s houses, and the only time they get caught is when it’s a plot point.

In Dragon Quest IV, there’s a bit where your party gets sent to jail for stealing a bracelet in Femiscyra, when it’s actually a professional thief who does it.

The crazy thing is that, if the thief hadn’t shown up, the party probably would have taken it. Of course, the Sims games have a little of that, as you can work as a criminal and nobody thinks twice about it. Well, Sims 3 does occasionally have a criminal Sim get caught and spend the night in jail, but that’s as far as it goes. There doesn’t appear to be any permanent record, even though everybody in town knows it when a Sim cheats on a partner.

Mind you, that’s a far cry from the first game, where a Sim could kiss and even have sex with someone else while their partner was in the same house, provided they didn’t wander into the same room. Actually, why can’t Sims be swingers? Isn’t the game all about doing things that I can only imagine doing in real life, like owning robots, building an in-ground pool in the backyard and drowning the neighbors in it (and again, there’s no police investigation involved), and being promoted at work? It’s weird how you can totally micro-manage these people’s lives, right down to when and what they eat, where they live, and how they decorate their homes; but there are some things they just won’t let you do. Then again, maybe that’s a good metaphor for real life. So many things are out of our control, but that doesn’t stop us from bitching about them all the time.

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