Dru and I have been playing the Sims 3 like we’re some kind of insane addicts who will curl up in little balls if you take our tiny pretend people away.
But! We’re learning all kinds of lessons!
Lesson #1: Don’t fire off a rocket in the house.
Dru learned this one the hard way. His Kid Sim was playing with an outdoor rocket in the house, and when it went off, it utterly exploded, creating a fire that killed the kid and his dad – who’d come up to save the kid, to no avail. Cue really sad Mom Sim and a weeping Real Life Kid, and we’ve got one serious lesson.
How many things do we parents let our kids do or play with without really understanding what it is? Parents are quick to blame TV for our children’s bad behavior, but if you don’t know what they’re watching, it’s not the TV to blame. If you don’t know your kid’s habits, how can you know if they change drastically? If you don’t pay attention to your child, your child might just fire off some kind of rocket and devastate all of your lives.
Knowing the rocket was an outside toy and making sure he supervised the Kid Sim would have prevented this tragedy. Dru learned a lot about being a
god parent that night.
Lesson #2: WooHoo makes babies.
WooHoo is, you may can guess, Sim Sex. It’s very vanilla – this is a kid-friendly game, after all – the sims cuddle up on the bed, giggle a lot, then dive under the covers and heart-shaped confetti sprinkles down from the ceiling, and they emerge from the covers all grinning and happy and clothed.
Dru made a couple, and eventually, the couple wanted to make it. Don’t we all? So, he sent them to bed and WooHoo happened.
And Sim Lady got preggers.
Dru was baffled. (Especially when I couldn’t stop laughing.) He said, “But I didn’t tell them to try for a baby!” (“Try for a baby” is another option.) Somehow, between snickers, we managed to have a very good and informative discussion about how sex makes babies – often whether or not you want one.
And in Real Life™, you can’t restart your game and not be pregnant anymore.
Our culture rarely talks about sex. Sure, you see it everywhere, but rarely do we educate our children – or ourselves. Even partners often have trouble talking about sex, even if it would make sex better, hotter, more fun.
Starting out with our kids, talking about sex honestly and openly, advocating birth control, and being there for any questions without pressure will help lead our kids to a better understanding of how our bodies work, why, and how babies come from WooHoo.
Note: the Midwest Teen Sex Show is an awesome resource to share with your budding teens. Watch them yourself, first.
Lesson #3: Money won’t fill your happy meter.
There’s a cheat code for money. You can get hundreds of thousands of Simoleans, instantly, with no effort whatsoever. This is handy if you’re building a house, but… well… we tend to abuse it and buy the best of everything ever. The best bed, the best stuff, the best stove. You get the idea.
The other day, though, Dru noticed that his sims were miserable. They’d been working long sim hours and not getting enough sim fun. He was frustrated, and said, “But I bought them the best everything! Why aren’t they happy?”
Heh. We talked about how working all the time and never having fun makes people unhappy, even if they live in a huge gorgeous house on a lake, surrounded by material luxury. We all need fun. We need to go to the bathroom in time to not wet our pants. We need food before we’re too hungry to walk. We need comfort, sure, but we need companionship and fun even more.
Lesson #4: Sometimes, your prayers will be answered. Other times, you’re on your own.
Occasionally, a Sim will get stuck or have a specific need (like going to the bathroom in time to not wet their pants). When this happens, it’s up to the player (with our god-like powers) to help out. Sim standing in the kitchen, waving his arms around? Check the Mood Meter and send him to get what he most needs.
But sometimes, if you let him do his own thing, he’ll fill his own most urgent need. Want him to sit and read and improve his logic? Fine, til he has to pee, then he’ll ditch the book and jog to the toilet.
Sometimes, we need help fulfilling our needs. We can pray or ask for help from the Divine or our more earthy companions. We can listen to our hearts and ask for guidance – and heed what we receive. And other times, we’re on our own. We can set up our environment to better serve us when we’re stuck. We can learn more about ourselves so we can anticipate our needs and take the best possible care of us.
Lesson #5: Fulfilling your dreams makes you happy.
A new game mechanic in Sims 3 is wish fulfillment. You get to choose traits (good, evil, lucky, genius, neurotic, friendly, etc), and then a lifetime goal (there are dozens), and then your sim will have little mini-goals appear throughout their life. Each mini-goal is related to their overall life goal and helps them on their path. (Usually.)
When you accomplish one of the goals, the sim gets a burst of happy that lasts anywhere from hours to weeks.
I find this one to be the most telling.
When we follow our hearts, when we’re on the right path, when we’re accomplishing goals and moving forward – we’re happy. It’s when we stray from this that we get depressed, unfulfilled, unhappy, and demotivated.
Just like the tiny little pretend people, we get a burst of joy from fulfilling our goals when they’re aligned with our hearts – so follow your heart, be it tiny and pretend or big and real.
Lesson #6: We’re all the same underneath.
This is, perhaps, the most important lesson of all.
I’ve made a wide range of little pretend people. When you’re really enjoying a game (read: obsessed), it’s fun to try out all the options. I’ve made evil Sims, good Sims, family-oriented Sims, downright nasty, mean Sims, and even an insane Sim.
But the thing I noticed was, every single one of them needed the same things.
They all needed food. They all needed to go to the bathroom, to shower, to have a clean and pleasant environment. They each had different versions of “clean and pleasant”, they each had different levels of social needs, and they each had differing desires – but that’s true for us, too.
My insane Sim, with her hard heart and mean spirit? She got lonely. She sat at her computer desk and cried once, when she’d gone too long without real Sim interaction. She was afraid of the dark, and got scared when she got lost in the graveyard in the middle of the night.
Deep down, she was the same as the sweetest Sim around.
We’re all human. We all hurt, we all dream, we all long for things, we all love.
We all need to go to the bathroom from time to time.
In Real Life™, we get caught up in our differences and forget our sameness. Indeed, those differences make us all the more human. But it’s our sameness that brings us together, our sameness that helps breed connection.
In our differences, we enrich the world. And in our samenesses, we shall connect.