About this feature:
I think parenting must be a lot like The Sims videogame series. You arrange meals. You furnish the home. You make everyone play nice. And if they’ve done their homework, you allow the kids an hour of television to keep them out of trouble while you drown in one of your two swimming pools.
The Sims 3, released in June of 2009 by EA, is a life simulation game revolving around a household of Sims (simulated avatars) who go about living their tiny lives whilst the player is free to intervene, for better or for worse. Your Sims will get jobs, make friends and even fall in love and procreate. The game imposes few rules, offers no explicit goals and carries no discrete failure state outside of the death of your Sims – it’s up to you to take your own fun as far as you can, as in real life.
But unlike real life, The Sims offers unabashed and unrestrained potential for wish-fulfillment. In real life you’re just some poor shmoe trying to make ends meet. But in The Sims you’re Emperor Shmoe, and your courtesans regularly meet at the end of your penis.
In this however-many-part series, I hope to use The Sims 3 to explore the life of a Sim whose existence isn’t a game at all. I will be playing The Sims 3 as a single mother taking care of her seven infants – the most extreme number of Sims the game allows in a single household. If we’re professing scientific rigour then I suppose the stated aim here is to see how long it takes for me to lose every single child to welfare services, or more ghoulishly, death (what I understand parent-types call “The Big Welfare Services in the Sky”).
Having not played any of The Sims games in over thirteen years, I can only speculate as to how long this kind of lifestyle will, or indeed can, last. I’m not even sure if the game features child services, or if it even models parental negligence. It if indeed does, it is my gravest hope that some EA programmer somewhere had to use a variable named “babySadness”.
I should also note that for the duration of the feature I will be playing only The Sims 3 base game. That means no extra micro-transaction content and none of the retail expansions. This stance is partially out of apathy (I admit to getting the game for cheap from a Humble Bundle) but also out of principle. I mean, look at the stuff EA is hawking:
- University Life
- Island Paradise
- High-End Loft Stuff
- Fast Lane Stuff
- Master Suite Stuff
- Katy Perry’s Sweet Treats
I’m burning up inside about the fact that I’ll never be able to buy my seven children the seven candy fountains they deserve.
Meet Patty Harper.
Some helpful facts about her that you may like to keep in mind as we embark upon this endeavour:
- Patty is handy
- Patty is a natural cook
- Patty family-oriented
- Patty is neat
- Patty is frugal
- Patty is a Gemini
- None of these facts matter since Patty is subject to my control and I am none of those things
To aid in readability, I’ve cunningly given the children names that begin with different letters of the alphabet. Please send all of your donations to Planned Parenthood.
Introducing (clockwise from the top-centre):
- Patty Harper
- Albert Harper
- Brittney Harper
- Callum Harper
- Dana Harper
- Ernie Harper
- Fiona Harper
- THE HULK Harper
Thankfully, the aforementioned household limit of eight Sims means there’ll be no Qantas, Xenocide or Ziggerlover Harper – which is somewhat of a shame, because Ziggerlover was my mother’s maiden name.
By default, The Sims 3 assigns all of the household’s children as offspring of Patty Harper. A rather presumptuous move, The Sims 3 – a rather presumptuous move indeed. Any first-rate genealogist could tell you that THE HULK is very clearly the bastard child of Science Gone Mad and Radioactive Isotopes, the deadbeat parents of the literary plot device world. The game wouldn’t let me add those, so I guess those options are only available in the “Scientific Funding Rave Party Expansion” or “Katy Perry’s Research Methodology Mania Stuff Pack.”
At the very least I’ll use THE HULK Harper’s personality traits to reflect his true heritage: while every other child’s personality is randomised, I have expressly made him both insane and evil.
It’s shit. The game’s price range didn’t begin at “homeless shelter,” so instead I made sure to just buy the cheapest, shittiest available. That’s the kind of frugality that, one day, might enable me to afford to send a sizable portion of one child to university.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve wondered, perhaps aloud and at a family function, just to what degree of accurate simulation we can psychotically puppeteer our Sims into a life of human neglect and suffering. In the following posts I’ll be chronicling the days in the lives of Patty and her dysfunctional band of tots to hopefully answer the question of why god plays their version of The Sims that way.
You can click here to go to Septomom Day 1: Welcome to My Humble Bundle Abode.