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.