October 25, 2000
I Control You
I recently purchased the popular computer game The Sims, and spent the past week or so playing it, while pushing aside other trivial activities such as eating, sleeping, interacting with other real-life humans, and most importantly, working on the Meathead Perspective.
For those 3 or 4 of you who aren't at least somewhat familiar with The Sims, the basic idea is that you create a family, plop them into a house which you have to furnish, and then you can help them have a normal life by making sure they're eating, sleeping, bathing, working, etc. Or, if you're like me, you can torment them (physically and psychologically) and watch their lives slip into utter ruin until they eventually curl up and die in a puddle of their own urine and vomit. Thanks to those wacky programmers at Maxis, you're presented with a practically infinite array of choices to help your family grow, or fall apart.
Well, if you'll just shut up for a second, I'll tell you. At some point whilst taking out the day's frustrations on an innocent newlywed couple, I suddenly thought about how cool it would be if I could somehow put Trent 'n Pals into the game. After doing a little looking around on the Internet, I soon learned how to create my own Sims characters! I went right to work, and before I knew it, I was looking at 3-D rendered versions of Nine Inch Nails on my computer monitor. Glory be! Just to be fair, I threw myself into the game as well.
proof that there is no god
Unfortunately, there's no way (that I know of) to change the height of each person, so thusly they are all the same height in the game. But considering the idea of the entire band living together in a house (? la "The Real World") that I built and furnished in 20 minutes, in a tiny suburban neighborhood occupied by the Newbie, Smith, Stupid, and Fuckhead families, I don't think the height factor really puts a huge dent in the game's overall level of realism.
After finishing creating the characters ("Sims"), I immediately booted up The Sims to see them in action. At first I was frightened and disturbed by seeing myself inside the game, but eventually I was able to get past the terror and continue playing the game. The first thing I did was build them a nice two-story, six-bedroom, three-bathroom house with an adjoining studio and a large in-ground swimming pool in the back. They seemed to respond nicely to their new home, for the first thing Trent did was strip down to his pink Speedo and dive into the pool. He also decided to spend the majority of the rest of the time lounging about the house wearing the Speedo. But I figured what the hell, he's allowed to wear whatever he wants, I guess.
One cool thing about the game is that you can interact with your neighbors. A young woman stopped by the house early in the game to welcome Nine Inch Nails to the neighborhood, but when Trent came out to greet her wearing his pink Speedo, she immediately slapped him and left. She never came back after that. Most of the other neighbors didn't seem to mind, though, so it wasn't really any big loss.
After being slapped, Trent cried for a minute, then went to the piano and played for the remainder of the evening. I tell you, this game just creeps me out sometimes.
The messiest member of the house was clearly Danny, who never made his bed in the morning, rarely took his dishes back into the kitchen after eating, and constantly left large puddles behind in the bathroom. He usually didn't even bother to change out of his pajamas. I can't really put all the blame on him though, since they were all pretty klutzy around the house. Within the first two days, they managed to catch the house on fire three times. As the game progresses, though, you can teach your Sims to be less stupid. And, thankfully, you can hire a maid who will come by every morning to clean up your messes for $10 an hour.
Each Sim develops his/her own habits after a while, partially depending on the personalities you give them at the beginning of the game. Trent spent most of his time hanging around the pool, sometimes cooking up hamburgers on the poolside grill (in his Speedo, of course). Every once in a while he'd drop by the studio, but usually only to play computer games.
Jerome was quite the ar-teest, frequently painting a new picture in the rec room. When he wasn't painting, he was most likely to be found plopped down on the couch with Danny, watching cartoons on the giant flat screen TV.
Charlie was arguably the most social Sim. Whenever the doorbell rang, it was usually Charlie who answered the door (Trent didn't bother after the slapping incident). He was most often seen hanging out in the front yard or the kitchen talking to the female visitors, who dropped by quite often. Once, Charlie stayed out talking in the kitchen for so long that he urinated on the floor. That didn't seem to bother the lady, though, because she just kept on talking. Thank goodness for the maid!
After watching the guys be lazy bastards and wallowing in their own filth for a while, I decided it was time to put them to work. I made each one look in the newspaper for a job. Jerome and Charlie got employed as professional pickpockets. Danny and I became political career trackers, and Trent and Robin got stuck with boring desk jobs. It was a real pain in the ass making sure each Nail was awake, dressed, and out the door in time to catch the carpool to work every morning. They each took about a half hour (Sims time) to roll out of bed once they woke up, and then they kept fighting like six-year-old girls over who gets to use the bathroom first. Trent quit his job before long because he was too depressed to work. I made Robin quit his job as well so he could keep Trent company during the day, and it made the morning rush go more smoothly to boot.
Once I got everyone used to an ordered system, I was able to pretty much sit back and let them live on their own without my having to step in every two minutes to put out fires, make Trent put on clothes, clean up the garbage all over the floor, etc. Trent even managed to become employed again, but it was just another crappy desk job, and he ended up getting fired.
Finally, after playing for a grossly unhealthy length of time, I decided it was time for bed. I did have a real job to go to in the morning, after all.
I am convinced this game was made solely for sick little monkeys like myself who enjoy watching (and especially controlling) the suffering of helpless computer game characters. At least it's a step up from playing Super Mario 64 for hours on end watching Mario run around with his ass on fire. And now that I can play the game with NIN characters in it, my hopes of ever having a normal, healthy social life are probably doomed.
Of course, I wouldn't spend all this time blabbering about this without letting you experience it as well. If you're a complete nerd like me, and you already own a copy of The Sims, click the link below to download the NIN Sims in a handy .zip file (234KB). Directions for installation are included, if you need them. May the force be with you.