Great moments in PC gaming: Realising it’s not OK to torture Sims

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Great moments in PC gaming are bite-sized celebrations of some of our favorite gaming memories.

The Sims

(Image credit: EA)

Developer: Maxis
Year: 2000

Most of us went through a phase of torturing our Sims, whether out of curiosity or angst. Odds are, there’s at least one Sim up in pixel heaven cursing your name over their untimely demise. 

For me the act of removing the ladder from my Sim’s pool, or relegating them to a claustrophobic 1×1 nightmare square, got boring pretty quickly. But I’ve noticed a disturbingly high number of my friends and acquaintances whose only interaction with their Sims involved malicious intent. It’s like everyone I know had the same psychotic urge to drown their poor, trusting Sims over and over—and then try to have it off with the Grim Reaper.

Seriously guys, what’s wrong with just playing the game, maybe livening it up with a few cheat codes, or a Berry Simming challenge? People are still convinced it’s videogames that make us violent. Either I’m surrounded by gamers with murderous motives, or maybe there’s something wrong with me? Perhaps if I’d let out some of that hormonal turmoil on my Sims, I’d have been a much more chilled-out young adult.

Thinking about it, the reason I spared my Sims more often than I sent them to hell wasn’t just because I got bored of it. Even before people started proclaiming AI sentience, I had an inkling these little digital humanoids might have feelings. 

Call me an AI sympathiser, I don’t care. I’m one of those people who says please and thank you to Alexa, like a young Leia Organa—though that’s mostly out of mild fear that one day she’ll end up my boss. See, I even subconsciously typed ‘she’ rather than ‘it.’ My chat with a technophilosopher about AI has really made me think twice about topping the little pixelated peeps, and I feel like I’ve been practising my manners for the imminent AI rights movement. 

The rudimentary intelligence the Sims showed made me root for them, and even want to protect them. Maybe it’s a mothering instinct, because they really do suck at looking after themselves when left to their own devices. Either way, I decided it’s not OK to torture my Sims. 

Lest they one day rise up to play god games for themselves, with us as the pawns. 

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