Coded gray.

Wednesday 22 March 2006

Screenshot Sims2

Pic of the day: Magnus the knowledge Sim.

Aspirations

The word "aspiration" was not part of my active vocabulary until I started to play The Sims 2, the people simulator from Maxis. But even though I did not use the word, the concept was familiar from real life. This was probably the intention.

Whenever I make a Sim based on myself, he always has Knowledge aspiration. There is no doubt in me about that, it is a bullseye really. The other aspirations don't fit at all: Family, popularity, romance and fortune... I scoff at them all. For me, the thing that gives my life meaning is knowledge, to learn it and to teach it. What I hope is to gain it, what I fear is to lose it, just like my little imaginary people in the game.

For the Sims, their aspiration guides their wants and fears too. These wants are not the same as their needs, and often collide with them. You need sleep, but you want to learn to make a new type of food, even if you are not hungry. The Sims will by default take care of their needs and rarely do anything about their wants; that's your job as their guardian angel, to prod them in the right direction. We humans probably have to make these decisions for ourselves, although who knows if there aren't guardian angels whispering into our minds. If so, we are probably good at ignoring them...

***

On that note, I think in real life there is a Religion aspiration. I can see how they would not put such a controversial thing in the game, but in real life I have known quite a few such people. I guess I was mistaken for one of them too, for a time, but in truth it was always the knowledge and insight and wisdom of religion that appealed to me. (That, and avoiding damnation. Although in practice I was more intent on learning new things than on actively avoiding damnable activities. Oh, that's for sure.) A person with Religion aspiration will be at least as focused on following what he already knows as on learning more. I don't think this aspiration is very common though.

On the other hand, I disagree with the choice of Maxis in their "Nightlife" expansion pack to include a Pleasure aspiration. I believe we all aspire to pleasure, it is just that we don't get pleasure from the same thing. A knowledge person will gain pleasure from discovering something; a popularity person will gain pleasure from a successful party. A romance person will get it from seducing someone. There is no need for a separate aspiration.

On the... third hand?... I can understand their Grilled Cheese aspiration. This is a kind of parody. When you try to change a Sim's aspiration, sometimes it goes wrong and they get the Grilled Cheese aspiration instead. They become obsessed with grilled cheese sandwiches. They want them at all times of the day. They talk about them, they think about them, it is all about the grilled cheese sandwiches. There are people like that in real life, only with something else than grilled cheese. For instance we have "trekkies" and "furries" and perhaps those I know the best, the "otaku".

An otaku is obsessed with anime or manga or videogames. In America it is mostly about the anime, but in Japan where the expression comes from, anyone who is obsessed with fiction is an otaku. It is there considered a bad thing, even dangerous, but the word is used more positively in America. Some use it about anyone who watches anime regularly, but this is not really what is meant. The real otaku is obsessed, often with one particular anime character. Usually they are asocial boys who fall in love with an anime girl. It doesn't help their image that these girls are often underage or at least looking or acting the part. The otaku has pictures of his "love" all over his room, he collects anything related to the character, and writes gushing entries in his LiveJournal about how he loves her above everything in the world and cannot live without her. He may also write self-insert fan fiction, sometimes in the most disturbing sense of "self insert", although the typical otaku worships his obsession too much to go all the way.

***

Most people, luckily, do not aspire to a life filled with anime, Star Trek or grilled cheese sandwiches. But family, for instance... the large families I recently wrote about, seem to be breeding places for "family humans". Just like their corresponding Sims, they view a new baby as a towering achievement which gives their life meaning for quite a while. And smaller events, like just talking to a family member, are still enough to lift their mood. They live vicariously through their children when these grow up, to the point where getting a grandchild is almost like having one of their own, and a break-up in the family can devastate them.

One online friend of me from a long time back is a typical romance person. Even though she is academic and indeed intellectual, the thing that fascinates her is dating and romance and anything about the opposite sex. I deeply enjoyed my conversations with her, but we were as different as earth and fire. I would also love to know and understand the opposite sex, but not if it meant having to date them, flirt with them or even (God forbid) being intimate with them.

Of course, in real life things are not always so clearcut. Then again, they are not really in the game either. A Knowledge Sim may start to behave like Family after falling in love, and I've also seen a Fortune Sim behave like Family when growing older. I guess art imitates life in this as well, for some people really do change direction after for instance a midlife crisis or a near death experience. But also some just are more diffuse from birth. Or more balanced, to use a nicer word. Well, obviously most of us have more depth than a computer game character!

But still... I think there is something to it. A lot, actually. When we are not experienced, we tend to assume that others think just like us. For a while we keep thinking that what makes us happy, would also make them happy, and we try to make them become more like us (if we like them enough). But it is not certain or even likely that they would feel like we do, if they did what we do. So while a part of me wishes that you could all be like me, I don't really think it would be a good idea. I think most of you would go stark raving mad if you were this much alone, for instance. Literally clinically insane. Family humans, popularity humans and romance humans for sure. Perhaps other knowledge humans might endure it... or perhaps only the grilled cheese otaku. ^_^*


Yesterday <-- This month --> Tomorrow?
One year ago: Weird days
Two years ago: "Anyone but Bush"
Three years ago: Recharging
Four years ago: Its me
Five years ago: Dust to dust
Six years ago: One with the universe
Seven years ago: No boredom

Visit the archive page for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.


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