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Sims the New Dolls? 275

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i-love-my-dollies dept.
philgross writes "According to the New York Times, lots of girls and younger teens are abandoning their dolls for the Sims. Says one professor, "We leave most of the social work in our society to women and The Sims lets young girls, in particular, work out their desires and conflicts about those relationships." Says another, "Children generally want to create characters, but with girls we see them wanting to create a friend." Meanwhile, says Will Wright, boys will "do the same stupid thing over and over again and be happy," (and I wince looking at my vast collection of first-person shooters). The article does quote one 10-year-old boy who plays with Sims, and has learned valuable life lessons. "I learned don't leave your baby crying or people will come take your baby away."" And I learned that if you lock Sims in your upstairs torture chamber, with no tiles to sit, they eventually cry themselves to death.
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Sims the New Dolls?

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  • It's a little sad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by deanj (519759) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @10:27AM (#15281070)
    It's a little sad that kids would have to learn something like that from a game, rather than having parents that think enough of their children to explain stuff like that to them. Better yet, they should lead by example.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 07, 2006 @10:31AM (#15281083)
      Better yet, they should lead by example.

      That's backwards. If they lead by example then they DON'T leave the baby crying and the child never finds out what would have happened. The Sims showed the kid what would have happened if the his parents' example wasn't followed.
      • If he learns a valuable life lesson from the Sims, then is he to trust that lessons learned form the Sims are valuable?

        Because the Sims actually could care less about raising your children.
    • by sugar and acid (88555) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @10:38AM (#15281107)
      Actually children learn a lot of things through play. Dolls are a classic example, where the child will use various dolls (and stuffed toys etc.) and play act them interacting in a social manner. The parents can give good examples and explain important aspect of being a well adjusted social indivdual, but then these lessons are acted out during play and are thus reinforced (unfortunatly the same will be true of bad parenting to). The sims just happens to be a more interactive version of this type of play, where the social interaction is already built into the program.
      • by Shazow (263582) <andrey,petrov&shazow,net> on Sunday May 07, 2006 @11:00AM (#15281189) Homepage
        Dolls are a classic example, where the child will use various dolls (and stuffed toys etc.) and play act them interacting in a social manner.

        Perhaps it has something to do with visualization. I also recall when I was younger, I used to play out all sorts of social sequences and situations with action figures, lego characters, etc. Now that I'm older, I still play out similar situations but they all happen in my head.

        Maybe it's just that when we're younger, we have more trouble visualizing things in our mind so we need the help of dolls (or Sims). Later on, when our brains are more developed (and we gathered more experience), we can handle running such simulations in our heads.

        Too bad none of my psych classes covered this.

        - shazow
        • Maybe visualization only develops a posteriori---in other words, your brain simply learns to imitate its surroundings, internally.

          I really really want to see Sims-like games for linux. It's one of the few reasons I keep windows around...
        • Maybe it's just that when we're younger, we have more trouble visualizing things in our mind so we need the help of dolls (or Sims). Later on, when our brains are more developed (and we gathered more experience), we can handle running such simulations in our heads.

          Isn't the very popularity of Sims proof against this ?-)

          Anyway, I (a 27-year old man) still play with dolls / action figures / whatever whenever no one else is around, so I think that it's more of a desire to appear grownup rather than any r

          • Re:It's a little sad (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Shazow (263582)

            Isn't the very popularity of Sims proof against this ?-)

            You're right, clearly that isn't the _only_ reason someone would play with action figures or The Sims. Hell, it might not even be the main reason. But I think it's an interesting hypothesis to consider. On average, certainly the "desire" to simulate situations with action figures has dies down with age.

            Anyway, I (a 27-year old man) still play with dolls / action figures / whatever whenever no one else is around, so I think that it's more of a desire

          • Anyway, I (a 27-year old man) still play with dolls...

            Damn, your lucky. My girlfriend woul be pissed if she caught me playing with one of these [realdoll.com].

          • those chocolate eastern eggs with toys inside

            Sadly, my favorite variety of those has been banned in the U.S. [wsbtv.com] for quite some time.

            Some of our young geniuses couldn't figure out which part was for eating and which part was for playing. (Or more likely, parents were giving them to kids who were too young to not put every loose item they find in their mouths.)
          • Sometimes I wonder how much of human behaviour isn't as much "growing up" as groupthink. Trying to act as they think the group expects a grown up to act. My guess is that most of it is just that: groupthink.

            And dolls are just a particular case of it all. Other examples include:

            - girls moving from childhood dreams of becoming a scientist or a teacher to... pretending to be a completely retarded airhead, because that's what's popular in nowadays' broken culture. (Showing any interest for science would make on
      • This is a great game for them then. This will really equate the notion that Romance = whore.
        I believe Will Wright may be getting a kick back from myspace. The girls pick up The Sims at 10, so by the time they're 14-15 they're reading to pose in their underwear on the site and drive up membership.

        For those who don't know the "Romance" aspiration consists mainly of an adult who wants to "woohoo" as many people as they can get their hands on. As soon as they're done with one, they move on to the next.
        • This is a great game for them then. This will really equate the notion that Romance = whore.

          Not a whore, a slut. A whore is someone who has sex with people for money; and someone who pays for these services is a whoremonger. Someone who sleeps around for the pleasure of it is a slut. Please get your deragatory terminology right.

          For those who don't know the "Romance" aspiration consists mainly of an adult who wants to "woohoo" as many people as they can get their hands on. As soon as they're done with

          • That depends highly on your definition of Romance. I don't think you'd find very many women who would find it "romantic" for someone to be working their way through every man and woman in the town.

            While Casanova might be classified "Romance" by some publisher, that doesn't make it romance. While he may have engaged in romance with each individual woman, his over-all behaviour was not romantic.

            and if you're going to correct someone, check your source first:
            http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=whore [reference.com]
      • Re:It's a little sad (Score:2, Interesting)

        by denoir (960304)
        The big question is if the simulation has a certain ethical framework that the player is rewarded for following, will it positively reinforce a child's social development? If it will, one might also ask what effects games that reward anti-social behaviour have on children.
    • parents that think enough of their children to explain stuff like that to them

      Yeah, OK, people should never try to do anything that their parents haven't explained to them, right?

      Personally, I'm a great fan of computer modelling. Too bad that current games are so unrealistic, I hope we will have more realistic games in the future. If the evolution of CPU power doesn't slow down too much, one can expect a lot, both from better physics and better AI in future games.

      I think the trend for more and more graphic

    • Re:It's a little sad (Score:5, Interesting)

      by malsdavis (542216) * on Sunday May 07, 2006 @10:49AM (#15281151)
      I think the opposite. To have something explained to a child is fine, but surely it is much better for the child's development if he/she can discover these things for himself/herself, using (and developing) his/her own intellect.

      From what I've seen in life, kids who have over-protective pearents telling them exactly how they should live their life, grow up to be very dull people.

      • From what I've seen in life, kids who have over-protective pearents telling them exactly how they should live their life, grow up to be very dull people.

        While this is true, they usually do live successful lives. Just because someone is dull is not such a bad thing. The only downside I have seen is if something bad happens in there life they don't know how to deal with it because everything should go as they planed.
        • I would have a hard time calling such a life 'successful'. Especially in these interesting times, where paradigm shifts come a dime a dozen; the ability to adapt to adversity brought about by unforseen changes is (as it always really has been) is a critical skill, and one of its general side-effects is that such a prepared person is not 'dull'.
        • by malsdavis (542216) *
          Maybe, but "successful" is a very subjective word. If you're born into a community of Buddhist monks (unlikely I guess given their vows of celibacy) your definition of a "successful life" is going to be almost the opposite of a "successful life" in a materialistically driven society.

          Neither can be truly deemed more successful than the other, it's just down to individual choice (although ironically in the vast majority of cases it is not the individual who actually makes that choice but rather their peers an
    • by kfg (145172) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @10:52AM (#15281161)
      Children do not learn social skills from explanation. They learn from . . .games.

      Witness kittens playing. Games are the imperical mode of trying out behaviors in a noncritical manner, like, with a real baby.

      And where do they find behaviors to try out?

      Better yet, they should lead by example.

      Ok, ya got me there. Monkey see. Monkey do. Don't like it when your kids do things you'd rather they didn't do? Well, don't do it yourself for starters. Kids learn adult behavior by observing adult behavior and trying it out.

      Kids are supposed to engage in adult behavior. They're designed for it. It's how they learn to do it. Most parents are dumbasses when it comes to this issue; and we've created a dumbass society with regards to the maturation process as a result.

      Ever notice that when most parents say "Act your age" they really mean, at heart, stop acting more mature than I'm comfortable with, i.e. act younger than your age. (The dumbass parents, of course, think they're telling their kids to act older than their age. That's because most parents are dumbasses)

      If you don't want your kids trying to sneak into the liquor cabinet, don't have one. They do it because they wish to grow up and see grown ups drinking liquor and defining it as grownup behavior.

      If you don't want to get rid of the liquor cabinet, at least give the poor kids a game that allows them to drink, but also necessitates they are responsible for the consequences.

      That way they'll learn.

      It's all about games.

      KFG
      • by Jeremi (14640)
        Ever notice that when most parents say "Act your age" they really mean, at heart, stop acting more mature than I'm comfortable with, i.e. act younger than your age. (The dumbass parents, of course, think they're telling their kids to act older than their age. That's because most parents are dumbasses

        While I agree with most of your post, I think you are wrong here: usually when parents say "act your age", they mean "grow up and take responsibility for your actions". They really are asking the child to beha

        • by kfg (145172) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @02:03PM (#15281800)
          I was waiting for you to show up. That was the weakest part of my post, written in a hurry while drinking my first cup of coffee of the day. What parents mean when they say "act your age" is actually very complex, but what it almost never means is "act your age." It would take at least a small monograph to explore it.

          . . .mean "grow up and take responsibility for your actions".

          This, however, is sort of what I said when I said that parents think they are telling their kids to act older than their age.

          It isn't what the parents are actually saying though. What they are actually saying is "be a kid, i.e., shut up and do as I tell you."

          Adult maturity can be defined as doing as you wish, but taking responsiblity for the consequences. This is how the kids are often actually behaving when told to "act their age" (at least with older kids, the sort that might be playing The Sims. A two year old having a hissy fit is acting his/her age. Two is the age to learn how to throw hissy fits. Throwing hissy fits and saying "No" is part of learning to make your own decisions and be responsible for the consequences. Some people just never manage to mature beyond this behavior perfectly appropriate for a two year old).

          They really are asking the child to behave more like an adult (e.g. do homework without being hounded about it, etc).

          Well, first off, you'll have to demonstrate to me that adults "do their homework" without being hounded about it. I've seen little concrete evidence of such behavior.

          However, let's set that aside for the sake of argument and posit your example.

          Mature adult behavior is not doing your homework. Mature adult behavior is making the decision on your own, for your own reasons, whether or not to do your homework, and taking responsbility for the consequences.

          Hounding a kid to do their homework is exactly the sort of dumbass parental behavior I'm talking about when I say that "act your age" means "do as I tell you to," i.e., be a kid, when they think they are saying "act more mature," i.e., behave as you wish.

          The dumbass part of this is that the parent is focused on entirely the wrong thing, having the homework get done, when the correct thing to focus is the behavior of the kid. Hounding a kid to do their homework has only one possible affect on the kid's behavior, to create a greater resistence to doing homework, "requiring" more and more hounding as time goes by.

          It's not uncommon for first graders to love going to school. By about third grade they hate it, because they have been taught to hate it by various people hounding them about schoolwork. Kids want to learn. In fact, they crave it with an often fatal passion. They will put their finger in the pretty flame. . .once.

          Kids hating to go to school and/or do their homework isn't a problem with the kid. It's a problem with the teachers and parents. They're being dumbasses, adopting behaviors of their own that necessarily drive the kids away from the behaviors they wish the kids to adopt.

          Because they do not want the kids to mature. They want them to shut up and do as they're told; and right now we have a society that tells them this is the way they should behave until their eighteenth birthday, when they are then supposed to automagically transform into responsible adults, without ever having taught, or evern offered the opportunity to learn on their own, just how to do that.

          And, of course, as per above, too many adults define mature adult behavior as shutting up and doing what you are told, even for adults, i.e. "do your homework" just because we said so, and without resistence.

          I'm afraid I'm in the corner with just about any "kid" who looks at their parents/teachers/bosses and says, "Fuck that shit."

          If you want me to behave in a particular manner, make it
          • Sigh...I might as well finally admit it: MourningBlade <3 KFG. KFG <3 Mourningblade?
            |__| Yes |__| No

          • (begin serious reply)

            While thinking about this idea once, I decided that the closest description of a "proper" parenting style would be "no unnatural way."

            For instance, want to teach your kid that a pan on the stove is hot? Heat one up (not as hot as it would be if you were cooking, but hot enough) while he's in the room. As usual, he'll trundle over and try to "help" with what you're doing. Advise him that that's not a good idea, but don't stop him - when he grabs it be ready with the ointment.

            It's n

          • The problem with your theory is that it's part of the job of parents to both teach knowledge and prevent at least some basic mistakes. True you have to let your kids learn some things the hard way(particularly as they get older and for some reason particularly with interpersonal relationships), but it's also your job as a parent to prevent them from doing things like sticking their finger in the pretty flame or in the power socket or drinking the bottle of bleech.

            The reason why human children are cared for

      • If you don't want to get rid of the liquor cabinet, at least give the poor kids a game that allows them to drink, but also necessitates they are responsible for the consequences.

        Parents! Heed this advice... Never leave the whiskey out by itself or within your teenager's reach. Always leave it out next to some playing cards and dice and let the game, er... social learning begin! I suggest we start with social learning studies that have long been followed at the hallowed halls of higher learning, such as King
    • by cooley (261024)
      It's a little sad that kids would have to learn something like that from a game, rather than having parents that think enough of their children to explain stuff like that to them. Better yet, they should lead by example.

      How many ten-year-old boys are sat down and taught how to take care of a baby? The implication that this kid's parents aren't present for his emotional upbringing because they haven't given him "Parenting 101" at ten years old is a little over the top. Perhaps he just doesn't have any youn
    • You are referring, of course, to the upstairs torture chamber, right?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Right before the first Christmas after the Sims came out, I was having my haircut and discussing the holiday. My hairstylist said she still need another gift for her pre-teen daughter, and I suggested The Sims. Well, she loved it, and apparently she loved it too much, as the next time I visited for a haircut, I learned grounding now involved loss of The Sims.
  • by Donniedarkness (895066) <Donniedarkness@NoSPaM.gmail.com> on Sunday May 07, 2006 @10:29AM (#15281078) Homepage
    The article does quote one 10-year-old boy who plays with Sims, and has learned valuable life lessons. "I learned don't leave your baby crying or people will come take your baby away."

    So what you're trying to say, young man, is that The Sims helped your family line from becoming a victim of natural selection?

    • So what you're trying to say, young man, is that The Sims helped your family line from becoming a victim of natural selection?

      How many ten year olds do you know capable of caring for a family? When I was ten, I could barely take care of my Transformers.
    • So what you're trying to say, young man, is that The Sims helped your family line from becoming a victim of natural selection?
      No, no. Exposure to The Sims caused an adaptive mutation which was then selected.
    • You can't be "saved" from Natural Selection. If you die, then you've been naturally selected against. If you breed, you've been selected for.

      Anything else degenerates into disqualifying intellect as a trait to help survival.

      • Thank you. I'd also like to add that this wouldn't even be a case of natural selection, as his genes have already been passed on baby. In addition, even though the baby would be less likely to be successful growing up in that environment, it wouldn't be less likely to pass on it's genes when it gets older - in fact in our society it would be more likely to do so.

        This post should be moderated down, or Funny, bit it isn't the least bit insightful.
  • by John Courtland (585609) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @10:29AM (#15281079)
    that taking a piss takes about an hour. Seriously, the timescale on that action is ridiculous.
    • They normalized the timescale between both sexes.
    • by 5n3ak3rp1mp (305814) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @11:41AM (#15281333) Homepage
      I tried this game. Once upon a time.

      It took so long to get ready in the morning (shower, piss, etc) that I'd routinely miss my ride to work and then lose my job. And then, when I wanted my character to learn, I'd have him read. And I'd sit there... watching him... reading. Then I stepped out of the matrix and said, why am I watching an avatar read when I could read actual stuff myself?? And so I did...
      • by austad (22163) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @03:12PM (#15282011) Homepage
        This game is still obviously addicting. One night my girlfriend went to bed a 9pm because she was tired. I had the sims running on my machine in my room. I came in there about midnight, 3 hours later, and she's laying awake in bed watching them. I'm like "what are you doing?" She says "I can't stop watching them, they just do things randomly, turn it off!"

    • Aah just wait 'til you hit 40. Then it won't seem so ridiculous anymore. That's another life lesson you can learn from the sims.

      It's not that the sims aren't realistic, it's just that they're all really really old.

    • Timescale? This is like RRT: multiple timescales all mashed up, a game day and a game year run concurrently. Plus it's a game: do you really want to have to also brush your teeth and trim your nails and blowdry your hair and whatever else? It's a stand-in.
  • Makes sense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 07, 2006 @10:39AM (#15281115)
    I used to work at Maxis back when SimCity 2000 was first released and I remember seeing this new game they were working on called "Doll House" and it was aimed at girls. Over the years it slowly morphed into The Sims.
    • by SimHacker (180785) * on Sunday May 07, 2006 @12:04PM (#15281416) Homepage Journal

      I worked on the original team that developed The Sims, and yes it was called "Dollhouse", but no it wasn't "aimed at girls". The name "Dollhouse" wasn't used because that turned off boys, but it wasn't designed to appeal to one sex or the other. The point was that it did not have any particular gender "color" or "aim". Of course there were some great women working on the design and implementation, and that came through, but not in a way that you could describe as "aiming at girls". The secret is not to aim at girls, but not to unconsciously aim only at boys, the way most other video games do.

      The Sims is a gender neutral game. It only seems like a girl game to some naive observers who haven't actually played it themselves, because of the contrast with all the other games which are extremely gender specific, aimed at boys, designed by boys, and written by boys. That's one of the biggest problems with the game industry: they are so insulated from reality that they can't see the obvious problem of how fucking dominated the industry is by clueless straight white boys who think everybody else is just like them.

      Thanks a lot to the all-hat, no-cattle assholes from Texas who think "John Romero is About to Make You His Bitch" is a brilliant marketing slogan, but never get around to designing any good game play, because they're too busy talking about what great designers they are who understand their audience, and have the audacity to hire their trophy girl-friends to work as booth bunnies.

      Before going to Maxis to work on The Sims, I worked at Interval Research, where Brenda Laurel was developing her "Games for Girls" project, which spun off into Purple Moon. I didn't subscribe to her theory of making games "aimed at girls" that were "pink" and "girlish" so boys don't like them and girls do. It seemed like a cop-out that pandered to the built in prejudices and problems of society, instead of trying to transcend them. I don't think there's anything fundamental about the color pink that's genetically hard-wired into girl's brains, and I don't think it's respectful to girls or boys to treat them or colorize them differently than each other. Should "Photoshop for Girls" only allow you to select bright shades of pink, but not blue? Seriously, pink is just a metaphore, and it goes a lot deeper than the color, but I don't think it's a such good idea to artificially limit the appeal of a game to one sex or another.

      That's just my opinion -- but it's best to let the market decide. Purple Moon got steamrolled over and bought out by Barbie, who owns the color pink and has an enormous marketing machine behind her (behind every successful doll is a giant corporation run by clueless straight white males). The other problem they had was that they were trying to do a CDROM game in the age of the internet. So it's hard to draw any definite conclusions about the effect of the color pink from Purple Moon's experience. But the market decided to make The Sims the most successful game of all time, and it definitely wasn't "aimed at girls" the way Purple Moon's products were, or "aimed at boys" the way all the other games are.

      -Don

      • As a woman who games, I have to agree with your assessment. I am completely insulted by games that are genderized to any extreme. Whether it be towards males or females. Anything that obviously is reaching for a gender stereotype ends up being less than satisfactory in my experience. Nowadays I play the oddball games that don't fit the formulas out there. Katamari Damaci, Pikman, The Sims, Insaniquarium, etc. The game I am really really waiting for with anticipation this year is Spore.

        Why don't I play t
      • The only thing I ever did with either the Sims or The Sims 2 is have two chicks living in the house flirting as heavily as they could with each other until they finally did it. Then, no more interest. Took about 8-10 hours each time.

        With Sims 2 I tried to get 3 girls to all simultaneously be in love with each other, but it was too tricky.
      • It seemed like a cop-out that pandered to the built in prejudices and problems of society, instead of trying to transcend them.

        I was with you until this point. What's wrong with games that are specifically target toward girls who like very frilly (i.e., pink) things? Just as there's nothing wrong with making shooters that appeal primarily to certain boy segments, there's nothing wrong with creating games that appeal primarily to certain girl segments.

        Speaking as a father of a four-year-old girl who love

      • That's one of the biggest problems with the game industry: they are so insulated from reality that they can't see the obvious problem of how fucking dominated the industry is by clueless straight white boys who think everybody else is just like them.

        You forgot to add "in America". You should really check out the Asian video games selection to get a better idea of how varied games can be. There's a lot more to video games than killing and blowing things up.

  • by the_humeister (922869) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @10:39AM (#15281118)
    They're action figures!!!
  • by defile (1059) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @10:53AM (#15281162) Homepage Journal

    The article does quote one 10-year-old boy who plays with Sims, and has learned valuable life lessons. "I learned don't leave your baby crying or people will come take your baby away."

    Subjecting one's offspring to unspeakable torture is every American's GOD GIVEN RIGHT.

    • Subjecting one's offspring to unspeakable torture is every American's GOD GIVEN RIGHT.

      For those of us who know offspring who have been subjected to same, this isn't very funny. Shame on you.
    • A friend of mine came up with this 'wonderful' (NOT!!) experiment you can do if you suddenly have twins. One of them you pamper and give it everything it wants, and the other one you neglect, shout at, well, basically, you treat him/her like Harry Potter was treated by his aunt and uncle. It would be interesting to see the results.

      KIDS (AND PARENTS), DO NOT try this at home! Not with real kids, anyway! I will not take any responsibility for the results!
  • by mblase (200735) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @11:24AM (#15281269)
    Among psychologists and education experts, it is widely accepted that playing with dolls is a safe and perhaps even essential part of self-discovery and growing up for many children, especially girls. Now, some of those experts are catching on to how quickly video games are moving into the territory formerly dominated by a slim blonde named Barbie.
    Anyone who has preschool-age children and a few baby dolls in the house will notice that, eventually, the kids (both boys and girls) will pick up the dolls and start role-playing out the very same relationship they perceive between their parent(s) and themselves. If you rock them and tell them stories, they'll rock their dolls and tell them stories. If you yell at them and put them in time out, their dolls will experience similar punishments. And psychologists have long used doll play to determine whether small children have been sexually molested by family members by watching to see if they do the same thing, without any encouragement, to the dolls.

    As kids get older, though, their doll play moves on from simply reenacting life and becomes more imaginative. The dolls will begin to live out the kind of fantasy life the child thinks s/he will have as an adult, or wishes s/he will have. They'll give the dolls the kind of lives they learned about in books or tv shows or movies.

    You have to be a bit older still to realize that dolls and/or Sims can be treated in ways you'd never treat real people, but it's still reenactment, even if you're just reenacting "Silence of the Lambs" torture cells or action movies where the villain catches on fire and falls off the roof. Anyone who reaches that point has generally concluded that Barbie is just plastic, Sims are just software code, and there's nothing anthropomorphic about them in his/her mind anymore.

    Sims are noteworthy, though, because they react in ways Barbie won't and will actually teach some social behaviors, like babies who aren't cared for will be taken away from you. In the past, this sort of educational value was limited to "If I torture my Barbies, my friends won't play with me anymore" or "If I rip Barbie's arm off, it doesn't go back on." Not that those aren't valuable lessons, mind you, they're just much more limited.

    Sims should never be used as a replacement for real socialization, of course, and if a child is losing friends in favor of Sims that's videogame addiction and a problem to be a addressed. (If the child never had friends to begin with, I reserve judgment.) But as "the new Barbie", I don't think there's any problems to be found.
    • What are you talking about, it's just code? I was playing Fable and I couldn't burp in front of people because I was too embarrassed, I had to walk around with a halo from all the goodness. I can never become evil in any game that gives me the choice, even when I try I pity the person/thing/whatever I just wronged and reload the game :(
  • by Crash Culligan (227354) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @11:34AM (#15281312) Journal
    And I learned that if you lock Sims in your upstairs torture chamber, with no tiles to sit, they eventually cry themselves to death.

    Memo to Myself: If I ever need a babysitter, do not call CmdrTaco.

  • Simply, No (Score:3, Insightful)

    by quantax (12175) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @11:48AM (#15281358) Homepage
    I think the major difference between a doll and any video game where its primarily a character simulation is that the doll is an object through which the child has nearly unlimited freedom of expression where as the video game is an exploration of a character that reacts a set way in a virtual environment. I consider this to be more of a virtual pet rather than a doll. This will show them interactions & their effects, but they do not explore the interactions on their own, they happen regardless since thats how the system works.

    Action figures or dolls, I know I put mine in all sorts of roles, ranging from simply good-guy vs bad guy to space exploration, you name it. With friends, you'd extend to roles further to each other, involve more characters, and so on. My roommate was even more into it than I ever was and he'd have his entire toy collection, involved in vast, decently complex plots for a child. The fun was in the fact that you could do anything with the objects at hand and project roles upon them regardless of their origin (Cobra Commander could just be Cobra Commander or he could also be the member of the crowd that gets saved by Voltron, who is actually a robot-alien from a distant planet sent to stop Strawberry-Shortcake from... its limited by your imagination).

    Dolls are about role exploration and archetype analysis by children. We read them stories (or they watch TV) which sets up these various character archetypes in their consciousness, which they use the dolls to act out. It is both a learning experience but also a reaffirmation of their character beliefs. The Sims cannot provide this, imo, simply since it is about a very static (compared to what you can do with your dolls) character that has set reactions to all stimuli in the game. Its not like your sim is going to take some new initiative, or as if you can really act out a complex story idea, since the game is too sandboxish & opened-ended for that to happen. One does not so much control as heavily influence their sim. On the other hand, if the child is fascinated by things like antfarms and such, perhaps they may enjoy it. But regardless, I do not see simulations replacing dolls; no, I see emergent game systems with easily creatable content as a place where dolls may get replaced. A game where you can define the world and the objects in it (think Spore meets Gmod meets the user definable gameplay-engine-system we've never seen). The closest we've seen to this is Spore, but while its amazing, its pretty obvious that this is not something that would even meet 1% of those requirements for a child.
    • There are many, many parents with many, many children who have almost no imagination. This lets those crippled minds have their play, even if it limits those whose imagination is a vast expanse. You can have a highly successful, happy, functional life entirely without the aid of an imagination. I think it might actually be beneficial; I think a lot of people that I know think I'm wierd because I bring up strange ideas "out of nowhere." If I didn't think quite so creatively, I'd probably fit in better.

      T
    • It sounds like you haven't actually played The Sims, looked at any of the web sites of stories written by Sims players about their characters, or downloaded any user created characters or objects. It was designed from the start to enable you to model your house, family and environment, and use it tell stories about anything you want. You should check out online community of people who make original content for The Sims. Fans have made several orders of magnitide more content than Maxis originally produced.

      • I've played the sims (both the first and second) and understand the game. I have never looked at any of the fan stuff, however after going to both your links, I think my point still stands since the ages of the people contributing to those sites, they're all teens or older. If you can find me examples of young kids making contributions to those sites, whether stories or whatever have you, then yes, I will agree with you. Otherwise, I do not really see any evidence that The Sims can or does replace dolls wit
    • I think I agree with you, with certain reservations.

      In another comment I likened the Sims to 'virtual pets,' or ant farms. This is a different type of play than usually happens with dolls (action figures, if you prefer), because with a pet, real or virtual, it's less open-ended. There's more feedback: if you pull the kitty's tail, eventually the kitty will scratch you and avoid you in the future. Although the ant farm doesn't seem to give much feedback, in actuality it does: if you don't feed them, they wil
  • Learn By Doing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by martyb (196687) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @11:48AM (#15281361)

    It's the scientific method applied to life - in a game environment so it encourages exploration while having fun. It encourages trial and error. I often learn best from what goes wrong - not just from what succeeds. This reminds me of a couple quotations which have helped me greatly through the years:

    Life is a harsh teacher - it gives the test first and the lesson later.
    and:
    Tell me and I'll forget;
    Show me and I may remember;
    Involve me and I will understand.

    (I wish I had attribution for these... does anyone know who wrote them?)

    The other thing I see is that the game is safe. The player can try things *objectively* without the risk of an *emotional* reaction that a parent might produce. "What the *&#@(% were you THINKING?" I am NOT suggesting parents abdicate their responsibilities to a game! For example: hitting my little brother got a swift reaction from my parents. I learned that I didn't want to get punished, so I stopped doing it. Playing it out in a game, I would get to see the emotional, long-term damage that it would cause -- I would better understand why it was a bad idea.

    • A quote similar to your second quote is printed in the Integrated Teaching Laboratory (ITL) at the University of Colordo's Engineering Center:

      "I hear, I forget
      I see, I remember
      I do, I understand"

      (The ITL is a "hands-on" lab environment where students work on projects in small groups. There is a manufacturing center with CNC lathes and mill machines, a laser engraver/cutter, plastic manufacturing machine, and other tools. There is also an electronics center and a bunch of lab workstations with data acquisit
    • Re:Learn By Doing (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MourningBlade (182180)

      The other thing I see is that the game is safe. The player can try things *objectively* without the risk of an *emotional* reaction that a parent might produce. "What the *&#@(% were you THINKING?"

      When I was young I screwed up quite a bit. As a result, I got yelled at and given the "I'm very disappointed" speech quite often. I'm 25 now, and to this day if anything rough is going on in my life I will not tell my mother. Even if it's the only real news about what's going on - just thinking about tellin

  • So if Sims are the new dolls, what are the new ponies?

    Barbie Horse Adventures, it should be pointed out, doesn't have any ponies.
  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Sunday May 07, 2006 @12:35PM (#15281544) Homepage Journal

    ... boys will "do the same stupid thing over and over again and be happy," (and I wince looking at my vast collection of first-person shooters).

    Everyone seems to be leaving that comment alone. Personally I've never really understood the appeal of first-person shooters, because they all do seem to be the same thing. You run around killing things with different forms of projectile weapons. However, I know I'm definitely in the minority on this one, at least in Slashdot.

    If you enjoy first-person shooters, do you think of the games as actually very different from each other, or is there something enjoyable about the repetition of them? Or is it something completely different that makes them so appealing?

    File this one under: "Clueless person looking for insight," rather than "FPS hater baits Slashdotters."

    • When I first saw your comment title, I strangely thought of that exact quote- not because of the FPS shooter, but because of how amazingly sexist it is. You don't have to scroll up very far to see posts about how games that are '"aimed at girls" that were "pink" and "girlish" ' are inherently sexist. Yet nobody's commented on this statement.

      The thing that bothers me is that both of these ideas are true, if you prefaced it with "a large percentage", or possibly even "a majority". But rarely does anyone

    • by philgross (23409) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @01:06PM (#15281643) Homepage
      I'm the submitter. I actually have a vast collection of all different kinds of games, and recently had about a week of my life sucked away by Oblivion, which is an interesting hybrid of Sims-like life-simulation in a fully realized world, and standard FPS-like dungeon-crawler, and before that my biggest time suckers were the 4X games Civ4 and GalCiv2.


      But, to address your question, I do have an awful lot of FPSs also. I would say that as with most genres, as you get deeper into them and play more of them, the differences and subtleties become obvious, and they (at least the good ones) don't feel that similar. Playing Unreal Tournament with friends on a LAN is totally different than playing DOOM III alone in a dark room which is totally different from the adventure story that is Half-Life 2. No One Lives Forever 2 feels utterly different from F.E.A.R., despite being from the same studio; the former is bright and hilarious, the other is a visceral and scary combination of a John Woo movie and The Ring.


      I had a roommate who mostly played console fighting games. He had played them all, and could play them for hours on end. Each was completely different to him, some great, some lame, while to me they all looked like a pair of cartoon characters endlessly punching and kicking each other.


      I guess when you play a particular genre a lot, your brain just factors out the common stuff (shooting the groups of enemies/punching your opponent) and focuses on the distinguishing characteristics.


      At the social level, though, all the FPSs are either interactive movies (first person mode) or collections of short team or individual games with good replay value (multiplayer mode). Even the 4X games like Civ4 or GalCiv2 have actors that represent entire nations/planets. I never really had an urge to play a world sim where the actors represented individual people, but maybe that's because I never tried one, or maybe just because I'm a guy.

    • Because there is some truth in it.

      Except that most guys want to do the "same stupid thing" BETTER each time and not worse or just the same as before.

      And maybe that's partly why there are more guys at the top of most fields than girls.

      F1 racing, tennis, golf, dictatorships, brokers, lawyers etc.

      I suppose the more "female" behaviour of wanting more friends is probably saner/less foolish. I mean so what if you can drive 70 times round a track faster than anyone else in the world.

      BUT somehow this sort of stuff
  • by blair1q (305137) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @12:42PM (#15281566) Journal
    Lolzers, Taco.

    Vast Collection?

    I got to Medal of Honor, discovered online play, and haven't bought a FPS since.

    See you in Brest, meat.
  • Neopets is better (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mark99 (459508) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @12:48PM (#15281587) Journal
    My kids play a lot of Sims, but they play even more Neopets. It has a more complex economy, I think it is better on the whole.

    The girls play dolls too, but not as much as Neopets/Sims.

    I am sure it is good for them. Most everybody I know who has a good job spends a large portion of it wrestling with uncooperative software suites. Sims and Neopets do a good job of preparing you for that. And dealing with money (somewhat). And unstructured problem solving. And much more.

    Just my 0.02 Euros.
  • by abbamouse (469716) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @12:57PM (#15281618) Homepage
    Hmmmm.... I learned some of those lessons from Little Computer People on my Commodore 64. If you don't feed the LCP he gets sad and turns green. If you leave the machine on overnight to watch him starve, your mother will decide that you probably shouldn't have a pet just yet, even though it turns out that you can't kill an LCP. Seriously, my mother was so moved by the suffering of my LCP that she made me give him food and water while she watched :)
  • by jdbartlett (941012) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @01:17PM (#15281676)

    I learned that if I type "ctrl+shift+c" and "motherlode", I get loads of money for free. Only it didn't seem to work when I tried it at First National Bank.

    Also, pizza costs $40

  • Uh, sure. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bansai665 (225959) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @03:38PM (#15282090)
    Interesting perspective considering that the game has more romantic interactions than anything else. It has very little educational value, if any.

    Hypothetical "What I learned from the sims" (from a child's perspective):

    * Garden gnomes will always be stolen.
    * Chinese food takes hours to eat.
    * If I go across the street or next door, I need to take a car.
    * All female Housemaids wear sexy clothing.
    * I can dedicate my life to having as many lovers as possible.
    * Mom and Dad do woohoo.
    * Nannies are unreliable and rarely show up on time.
    * I don't have to wash my hands after I use the bathroom.

    (and the list goes on)

    Seriously, the game plays by Sim rules not "real life" rules. What is there to actually learn?
      • Complaining is a criminal waste of time
      • Sex is fun
      • Pay attention to what everybody wants
      • Why play mindless games like the Sims when you could be improving yourself and having fun at the same time?
      • Arranging walls and furniture isn't as easy as it might look
      • Construction work is dirt cheap
      • Why annoy people?
      • Don't make life hard on Mom, she's busy.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 07, 2006 @04:01PM (#15282156)
    My wife loves the Sims. I can get sucked into it in about half an hour (I never save the game, which keeps me from developing a long-term addiction to it). One night I was controlling a household with a husband and wife. The husband had just gotten home from work and was very tired, but not at the point where he was in danger of falling asleep where he was standing. The wife had had a reasonably hard day and a very low social meter (or whatever the social-interactions measurement is), so I told the husband to go give her a kiss and a compliment and then go to bed. The husband threw a little tantrum because he wanted to go to bed now. I remember staring at him and thinking, "Just give her the kiss and compliment--you will get to bed only a few seconds later, your wife will be immensely happier, and you will probably be at least slightly happier too!" And then I mentally stepped back from the game and had one of those "woah" moments... it was very surreal.

    As a side note, the article says, "When adults or older adolescents play The Sims, it is often with the slightly perverse goal of seeing just how dysfunctional or outlandish a household they can create." I think this is still very similar to what kids are doing. Kids create realistic situations because they want to explore what happens in those situations. Adults already know what happens in realistic situations, but they want to know what happens in situations that they can't try in the real world. For example, my wife is maintaining a household that has a pair of lesbians with a child, and the adults don't have Sim jobs. They have a large garden in the backyard, and they sell the produce (along with some paintings and other crafts) to pay the bills. She has another household (in the Sims 2) that has a boyfriend and a girlfriend, but she is actively trying to get the guy to get as much action as possible without losing his steady girlfriend.

    Note: Before anyone goes for the obvious jokes, my wife has no interest in leaving me for a lesbian (there are certain things that only a man can provide, and she enjoys those things very much), and I have never cheated on her.

    • Yup. That just-shut-up-and-get-on-with-it response is a beautiful bit of work. There's enough evidence of intelligent design in that game I believe they intended to provoke it. The time pressures on the Broke household, the obvious (to grownups) solution to the Lilith problem... plus it's amazing how many wry jokes they manage to tuck into that sim. They had a LOT of fun making that game, and it shows.

      But the toasting kit is just plain malicious.

  • by nick_davison (217681) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @05:04PM (#15282313)
    And I learned that if you lock Sims in your upstairs torture chamber, with no tiles to sit, they eventually cry themselves to death.

    Ah, if only most employers would play the Sims before designing cube farms and bull-pens.
  • wincing mode: on (Score:2, Insightful)

    by critical_v (878418)
    I wince when I read anyone (especially a professor, researcher, or "expert") saying "girls do this" or "boys do that," not because what they're saying isn't correct, but because the question is never asked "Why is this?" It is just assumed that this is part of their "essence" or "nature" and that's really all they think need to be said about it.
  • boys will "do the same stupid thing over and over again and be happy,"

    It's true. The first thing any new Sim does under my control is get a girlfriend, and I never tire of it.

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