Sims – is gaming living vicariously?

Recently, I have become an utter sucker for the Sims 3. This, after many Sims-free years playing “proper” games like Dawn of War and Vampire: Bloodlines. Being a woman gamer I am almost ashamed of the hours I’ve been pumping into playing the Sims over the last month or two, feeling like I’m reverting to type, becoming predicatable in my gaming habits.

Who knows, any minute now I might pick up Braintraining on the DS, and then it’s a slippery slope down to the Imagine series and Barbie Horse Riding Adventures (hello Blitz! *waves*) and suddenly I’m Nicole Kidman or Giles bloody Brandreth and not the veteran game dev survivor with the cool Necron wristwatch.

OK, so I digress: What has really surprised me is the fervor with which I have become obsessed with gardening in the Sims 3. Character after character is created with one goal in mind: Max out the gardening skill, complete the gardening opportunities until they can plant the Omni plant, and then live off the land, happily ever after.

At first it was Steak plants – the ultimate cash crop. Well, until you get to Money trees, which are really the ultimate cash crop. Then it was the Omni plant, which is handy for Deathfish growing so my Sim could dine on Ambrosia daily and never age (also quite telling!). Now I’m thinking of growing gold bullion on the Omni plant, or trying cut diamonds to see if that’s more financially efficient. I even wish there were other types of fruit (like Cantaloupe melon, not just Watermelon) to grow.

And then I realised that this all coincided with my current kitchen windowsill harvest of tomatoes, bell peppers and chillies IRL. I’ve been yearning for some proper outdoor space that can accommodate a greenhouse for some time, and even fantasizing about growing all kinds of delicious food, but also roses and  – suprise – a tree or two!

I’ve been told this is something that happens to women of a certain age: We all go self-sufficiency crazy and start talking like Felicity Kendall, but is this why I have become such a keen simulated gardener? Am I living vicariously through my Sims? And if so, should I start worrying when I make them pick fights at the supermarket, for a laugh?


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September 2009
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