Simulating Stress

Wark’s GAM3R 7H30RY explores the gaming world and the motivations of its inhabitants. In this piece, there is an interesting debate over whether or not there is inherent parody in the design of the game itself. Sims’ game designer Will Wright says: “If you sit there and build a big mansion that’s all full of stuff, without cheating, you realize that all these objects end up sucking up all your time, when all these objects had been promising to save you time…. And it’s actually kind of a parody of consumerism, in which at some point your stuff takes over your life.” The game scholar Gonzalo Frasca disagrees: “Certainly, the game may be making fun of suburban Americans, but since it rewards the player every time she buys new stuff, I do not think this could be considered parody.” I happen to disagree with both…I think that the actual ‘parody of consumerism’ occurs as soon as you begin to play the game (whether or not you fill your mansion with ‘stuff’) because the ‘reward’ (as Frasca calls it) is ‘succeeding’ in this virtual world. Even if you are not accruing stuff, the game itself is ‘spending’ your time. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with choosing to play but it is fascinating that those wishing to escape reality for a few minutes, hours, days (depending on your level of commitment) would seek to do so in a virtual simulation of the everyday pressures and social climbing.

2 responses to “Simulating Stress

  1. mdimopoulos

    I suppose the question is if you set out to make a parody of consumerism and it is unsuccessful as a parody because people start to take it seriously then how is it defined?

    Any sufficiently involved hobby is a money and time sink: The trick is to manage the hold it (the activity) has on reality and prevent it from transforming into obsession… like paying for olives in farmvi$$e

  2. What does make the parody? If we’re doing exactly the same think online in Sims as we do in real life, there is the digital difference, but not much else. I think it really does depend on who’s playing the game. Some people might think it funny and ironic, while others are taking it seriously. What about the people who purposefully kill their Sims? I don’t know if that’s ironic or real, or maybe a psychological problem.