The Sims And Philosophy

“If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre

The science of being alone is an art that isn’t to be mastered by the faint of heart. To be able to sit blankly, alone, quiet, and be at peace without yourself is something that very few can master without actually taking the time to realize who they are and what they’re trying to be at peace with. Instead of grappling with reality by distracting, sitting quietly, alone, at peace, is something that everybody should be able to accomplish. Everybody with half a brain that is. I, however, cannot enjoy this peace, as many people with similar mindsets as mine often do.

Peace in chaos, that’s always been my motto, but it hasn’t always been that way. I remember a time so very long ago that I was happiest sitting at my computer playing The Sims for hours on end, escaping to a quiet place where nobody could bother me. The Sims were my salvation, being lost in a virtual world of “Hot Date”, “Vacation”, and even “Unleashed” was something that I could always look forward to. I could embrace the escapism of sitting on my own couch, with my own laptop, and running my own private little world. I could make people love, I could make then hate, I could make these people die if I really wanted to. For all that have played, remember that ability to put your “Sim” in the pool and take the ladder away? Watching them swim aimlessly and eventually beg for the ladder back was sadistic, but hey, we did it…I know I’m not alone here.

no ladder

Why, however, did the creators of that game give us the ability to kill off our Sims? Wouldn’t it just be easier to have a “delete Sim” button to remove them forever from our game play? Why are we given this supreme power of playing god even though these fake figures are nothing but pixels on the screen? Do the creators of the game not realize that in a zillion other video games your character dies and you get a new one? Death is all over the place in the virtual game world, however, it’s always somebody else killing your character. There is always a bad guy, there is always something to fight, there is always something out to get you. The Sims, however, was different. Your worst enemy was yourself and your ability to make life good.

How does that reflect on our interpersonal relationship with self, though? In the Sims, your person gets lonely, and will beg you for some company. You can of course satisfy the need for company and companionship with other people, but how does that really work? Why do people need to rely on the presence of others to make them happy? In all actuality, The Sims is probably one of the most poignent video games ever to come out, not only because it keeps the brain occupied for hours on end, it teaches us what people really want and need in life. Primarily a ladder out of a pool, but secondly, to be happy, no matter what.

“Thou wilt one day cry: “I am alone!” One day wilt thou see no longer thy loftiness, and see too closely thy lowliness; thy sublimity itself will frighten thee as a phantom. Thou wilt one day cry: “All is false!” -Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Alone, the feeling that you get when you’l without company, but for many, you can be just as alone with a room full of people as you can be all by yourself. The feeling of not relating, the feeling of inferiority, the feeling of being afraid to say the wrong thing manifests itself in every one of us, and without any apparent cause. Fear of rejection, fear of commitment, fear of actually showing love, all of these things are qualities that The Sims don’t have. They just go about their little lives, doing whatever you tell them to do, they have “free will”, but then again, you can adjust exactly how much they have. Again, the ability to play god is the ultimate ego trip, until it’s time to turn the game off. When the Sim decides he wants to do something to amplify his happiness, you can tell him not to.

Why can’t we do this same “Click To Save” action in our own lives? We find ourselves in self destructive thought patterns and even attitudes. As a culture we can sink into the tragic events of the news, of our relationships, of our lack of confidence and not stop. There is no simple mouse click to change your reactions to events, or even feelings. It would be so simple though, if we can see a Sim suffering on the screen and be able to guide it to the shower to clean, the fridge to eat, or even out on a “Hot Date” to get some attention, why can’t we implement this is real life? Easy, we’re scared.

Miserable

The miserable people that decide that they want to change their life patterns have to go through a rough patch of readjustment, much like if you were to get a new expansion pack for you Sims. There are so many new, exciting things to experience, it’s hard to know where to start. The biggest step that you have to take in personal transformation is to take that first step toward the shower, the fridge, or like noted above, the bathroom (that’s a hell of a lot of pee, and I’ve also wondered why do the Sims pee blue?). Those poor Sims can’t help themselves, you however can. A simple evaluation of where you are and where you’re going in life will assist you in making those scary first steps.

Do you really want to be the drunken sot that loses friends and respect? Probably not.

Do you really want to be the heroine addict that hocks family heirlooms to get a hit? No, not that either.

Do you want to put your best foot forward? Please do.

This morning I had a bit of a stumble, I realized that I had spent the week in a spiral of self loathing and doubt. What am I doing here, where have my friends gone, why am I so lonely? All of those things are answered simply by “bad decisions and sabotage”. I could have had it all, but all was not what I wanted. I could have a super model body again, but I blew that with bad decisions. I could have somebody at home that loves me very much that looks forward to seeing me smile. I blew that too. Or did I, it’s all a matter of perspective.

In The Sims, if you don’t show up to work you lose your job, much like in real life. Also in The Sims, if you don’t eat you get a warning bubble with food in it. In real life it’s different, you have to trust your internal signals to tell you when and what to do. These same internal signals can change your matter of perspective on where you are in life. I could have it all, I did throw it away, but who is to say that what I have now isn’t enough? I have “all” of the things I need to live and be happy. Isn’t that “all” enough? I used to have a super model body of 83 pounds and blonde, I blew that by deciding I didn’t want to be anorexic anymore. What’s to say that I’m not the same beautiful person that I was then, just a whole lot bigger? I could have somebody that loves me at home, but then again, at what cost. Can I love myself if I’m constantly worried about other people loving me?

The Sims aren’t just a video game, to me at least. They remind me that in order to make things happen you have to make them happen. It’s time to come to terms with the fact that you’re in charge of putting that ladder in your pool to get out, are you going to? Are you capable?

“Anyone who cannot come to terms with his life while he is alive needs one hand to ward off a little his despair over his fate… but with his other hand he can note down what he sees among the ruins.”
Franz Kafka

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