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Archive for the ‘Sim Interrupted’ Category

In Simmary #1

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

After 10 entries, 5 for Amy and 5 for Ted, I feel like it would be a good opportunity to sum up what’s happened so far on the journey. More like SIM up, amirite?! No? I’ll show myself out.

In simmary, how are these little balls of AI doing?

The two Sims are very different, despite being given the exact same characteristics and being put in exactly the same home (I’m running them each on a different machine). I put this down to there being some randomisation in terms of exactly how they “come out”, there still seems to be differing personality types within the designated traits. It’s most likely a spectrum, like real life, right?

Ted is actually not all that fun. He doesn’t like to look after his basic needs (despite being a neat freak) and doesn’t seem to take pleasure in things very much. Amy on the other hand laughs at bins and bathroom rugs. She spontaneously giggles and becomes intrigued with daily minutiae. I find this difference in them really odd and a little unsettling when I sit down and try and think about it. Surely it’s random and not some weird creative decision about women “being nicer” because that’s what the player would want. She sings in the shower. She thinks of something funny then laughs at it. She’s fucking delightful!

At the risk of sounding like I’m pushing some kind of feminist agenda (of which I was accused of via email, in response to this post) there’s a cynical side of me that thinks the fact Amy is “nicer” and “cuter” is a creative decision based entirely on her gender. It may just seem striking (and therefore noticeable) in comparison to Ted’s beige-ality but she seems almost overly pleasant. Even when she’s upset she quickly comes out of it juuuuust as she’s approaching the threshold between cute and shrill. I want to see some shrill. I’ve seen Ted lose it and be morose afterward. She seems a little more manic after she’s been upset. She bounces right back up again into Stepford territory. This could be part of her personality and where she sits on the spectrum, or it could be a gendered thing. Only time and a larger sample size will tell, I think.

Their pain isn’t the same. Amy may have an outburst but then she’s right back on the horse. Ted stands there looking sullen, and things appear to get to him more. Is she the Angry But Never Too Angry™ approachable woman, and he’s the Sensitive New Aged Guy™? Is this just a random roll on the AI flow chart or was this a creative decision based on what I the player might want? And why do I want those things?

They’ve had very similar things happen to them in these first few entries and that was something I guided on purpose. I wanted them both to have as much in common as possible, so I made sure they both had access to televisions, computers, and eventually chose a job for each of them (once they’d run out of money or were dangerously close to doing so). This was to try and compare them fairly, but I think it’s getting to the point now where a different approach for each Sim is needed, given the fact they’re so utterly different.

One thing they have both experienced though is the sudden realisation that Relationship Status means a LOT in the Sim world. Whenever they make a new friend online or in real life, the first thing they learn about that person seems to be their relationship status. It’s like it’s the most interesting thing about anyone. At one point Ted thought about marriage and cried, and at another Amy thought about holding hands with someone. I think they want to be in relationships.

I’m curious to see whether this yearning gathers strength in the upcoming entries, and whether its strength is increased in one gender over another. Amy has dreamed about babies twice already, and Ted hasn’t at all. Jobs and money seemed to dominate the first 10 entries, and I think I see it leaning toward the direction of relationships for the next lot.

Lastly I’d like to take this opportunity to thank people for the emails they’re sending in about their personal journeys in both The Sims and in their own mental health. You’ve shared some amazing insights and had some thought-provoking questions for me and it’s been great. I feel lucky to hear your stories, and proud that you feel like I’m someone you can safely talk about it with. :) While Sim, Interrupted is definitely a light-hearted look at depression, rest assured I take it very seriously and this is not to be looked at as a digital freak show or The Festival For Pointing And Laughing but rather an exploration of the AI and creative decisions made when trying to simulate the human condition. Which is appearing less and less like an easy job as the entries go on.

Thanks! Remember you can always email your thoughts to siminterrupted (at) grassisleena.com, or send a tweet (or DM) to @SimInterrupted. :)

Amy #5

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

It’s Wednesday, Amy wakes up at 7:30am and jumps straight in the shower. There’s §84 in her account. Bills cost about that much. If she can’t pay her bills a debt collector will come, probably going straight for her shiny new computer. A notification pops up “Uh oh, there’s only one day left to pay the bill in the amount of §84”, with an option to ignore or pay the bill now. I choose pay bill now. The bank account is at §0. Pretty sure there’s another bill in the letterbox waiting to be paid, too. The time of waiting for the perfect writing job is over. It’s “take whatever you can get” time now.

She goes to her computer to chat online, presumably a little bummed about the lack of funds. I suggest she start her job search when she’s finished. She cancels the chat and goes straight to the job search. I felt like she knew it was a better use of her time.

Medical Career – Organ Donor
Organs are kinda cool though… §22 per hour. Her organs are definitely worth more than that.
9am – 3pm MTWTF__

Culinary Career – Kitchen Scullion
Shitty hours, shitty pay, no chance of writing, no leisurely weekends. §25 p/h.
3pm – 9pm MT__FSS

Law Enforcement Career – Snitch
It’s not writing but could make for good inspiration later? §40 p/h.
9am – 3pm MTWTF__

Science Career – Test Subject
I heard once this guy took this job, and then he got attacked by lab monkeys. True story. §44 per hour.
9am – 2:30pm MTWTF__

Music Career – Fan
Perhaps a career in music journalism? Does Rolling Stone have room for rug-gigglers, window-gazers and bin-laughers? §21 p/h.
3pm – 9pm MT_TFS_

I’m thinking Amy would like the danger involved with being a snitch. She’s very bright (a Genius actually) and it’s hard to make her feel like the world is on top of her. Perhaps law enforcement will give her some good material for her novel when she’s finally a professional author? Getting down in the nitty gritty world of the mafia, or busting a huge drug cartel or whistleblowing on some massive conglomerate. It seems the most exciting for sure. She’ll have to spy on people.

Out windows?

Could this be? Could Amy turn her love for staring wistfully out windows into a career?!


Amy takes the role of “Snitch” in a Law Enforcement career, and starts work tomorrow. But for now, it’s time for some online chatting.

She makes a new friend, Pauline, and learns that she’s in a relationship with Hank. Relationship status seems to be the only thing she’s learning about people. Is it because she’s scoping for singles, or is it that it’s the first thing everyone puts out there? At 11:30 am she turns the computer off. It seemed quite sudden. She learned Pauline was in a relationship and then lost interest in being on the computer?

Amy recycles a newspaper and goes to the bathroom. In the bathroom she cleans the toilet until it’s sparkling. When she’s finished she checks out the rug and says “Laloog!”. She then looks like she’s doing really hard sums before exclaiming “Blanay!” and walking off.

She goes back to the computer to chat online at 1:45pm and smashes her head on the keyboard, yelling. Something’s bothering her. A thought-bubble came up of people holding hands. She wants to be in a relationship? Quite badly by the looks. She kept chatting and seemed to calm down. A few hours into chatting she makes a new friend, Jack.

Jack’s in a relationship with Judy.

She turns the computer off and sits there. She doesn’t get up. 3 minutes pass as she’s staring at the blank screen of the computer.

She turns the computer back on and plays some videogames.

Ted #5

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

It’s 1:30am on a Thursday. Ted Hargraves has §18 to his name. He’s chatting online and seems happy enough, before forcefully smashing his face on the keyboard out of frustration. Well that came out of nowhere. No thought-bubbles came up to explain what any of that was about. Someone other than me is trolling Ted? I don’t know how I feel about this. I thought we had something special, Teddy.

He’s made a friend called Dave. Dave is single and seems nice.

His energy is low and he reminds me of this when I suggest he find a job. He whinges. Apparently there’s a difference in expelled energy when chatting online than when job hunting online. No dice, Count Tedula, get in there! You need a job by morning. You can’t even afford to pay one bill and there’s two waiting. Shit just got real, son. Whatever options come up on this online job search, he’s taking one of them. The dream of a writing career is fraying and giving way to the realities of bills and home-ownership. He’s not Robinson Crusoe there, as they say.

Professional Sports Career – Rabid Fan.
It’s hard to imagine Ted as a rabid anything really. Other than pants-wetter. Only §13 per hour. 3pm – 9pm. MTWT_F_.

Culinary Career – Kitchen Scullion.
Potential to set self on fire or impale oneself, high. §25 p/h. 3pm – 9pm. MT__FSS. At least that one has two days off in a row. Would be hard to see any friends though with no weekends.

Political Career – Podium Polisher.
Probably what would most excite Ted. What better place to learn the power of words than in the political arena. The speech writer might get sick one day and they ask Ted to help out. This could turn into a writing gig… §24 p/h. 9am – 3pm. MTWTF__. Promising.

Medical Career – Organ Donor.
I wonder if he gets to choose which organs? §22 p/h. 9am – 3pm. MTWTF__.

Business Career – Coffee Courier.
Well I guess there’s a lot of copy flying around in the business world? Oh coffee. Right. Baw. §27 p/h. 8am – 2pm. MTWTF__.

Not the difficult decision I was expecting really. At least he didn’t have to choose between military and roadie. A career in politics is an intimate relationship with words. He’s going to see how they’re used to inflate people, tear people down, bully people, inspire people, and change the laws we live by. He could be the next Aaron Simkin.

Ted takes the job, and begins his political career. He seems genuinely pleased. I hope he’s going to be okay. If a job in politics isn’t depressing I don’t know what is…

This new job couldn’t come soon enough. Not only for his bank balance, but during the night he gets -15 to mood for being “Stir Crazy”, with the caption saying “Sims should leave the house frequently for sanity’s sake. Shake well with a community marinade for best results”. Interesting. Work will get him out of the house, but perhaps one day he should go for a walk into town.

He takes himself off to bed at 3:30am (!!!!!!!). He dreams almost solely of his new job. International flags (the kind you’d see lined up at the UN), ballot slips, and podiums. He isn’t giving off the vibes of a person disappointed in their career choice. He’s excited. Actually, I think I just saw him smile in his sleep.

Recent Features

For (not so) immediate release Where were you when we needed you? In Simmary #1 Amy #5 Indie Game: The Movie Ted #5

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