The Sims 3 Gameplay
The Sims 3 official Trailer #1
The Sims 3 Late Night Trailers
The Sims 3 is a life simulation PC game developed by The Sims Studio and published by Electronic Arts. Since its 2009 release, the Sims 3 has sold over ten million copies worldwide and became one of the best-selling computer games of all time. To expand the market, the game extended its platform from computer to game consoles and smartphones to invite more players to join the Sims experience, such as, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Android, iOS, Nintendo DS and Wii. It is very easy for gamers or non-gamers to dive into the Sims world because the game is highly accessible. Everything in the Sims 3 is customizable and players are encouraged to explore and engage in the Sims community online. I think the Sims 3 could be a great lecture text for the course of “Mediating Identities” because the game is a virtual reality that allows players to manipulate almost anything to their Sims avatars, including appearance, personality, relationships, careers…etc. This game enables players to escape the reality with brand new identities, or extend preexisting identities to the virtual world that reflects the real world’s issues regarding race, gender, and sexuality.
To start the game, a player will enter Create-a-Sim mode (CAS) to begin by designing a Sim character according to the player’s preference. First, players will ask to input a name, age, and gender to get a pre-built Sim in CAS. Then players will have the full control of how their Sims will look, which they can spend unlimited amount of time customizing and tweaking the Sims’ facial features, skin color, build and body weight. Players will also need to dress their Sims’ based on occasions, such as, everyday wear, sleepwear, formal wear, athletic wear, and swim wear. Besides from appearance, CAS allows players to select the Sims’ lifetime wishes and traits. Players can choose 5 out of 60 traits in Sims 3, which creates more options compare to the older versions. The selected traits will affect Sims’ behaviors later in the game. After creating a Sim, players can move on to customizing a house or the entire neighborhood if they desire to.
Since the last two weeks of the course is focusing on videogames, I think Sims 3 is a great text for breaking apart the relationship between game players and their avatars. Players can use Sims 3 to create representations of themselves, which just like Waggoner stated, “characters in video games are agents rather than avatars.” The more time players spent on modifying their Sims in CAS, the more identity they have put in. However, the CAS feature fails to resemble the diversity of race, gender, and body types. Sims are racialized only by a simple scale of skin color, which a Sim could be relatively pale and dark. Players can tweak the default Sim’s Caucasian facial feature and hair color to match a certain race, but the look will be a result of a stereotypical representation of a racial group. In order to start the CAS, players are forced to choose a gender, male or female, which amplifies and reinforces the binary model of gender in our mainstream society. The CAS also neglects body types regarding to height and disability.
The game can be both beneficial and problematic to our society. The Sims world could be a gate-away from the real world for players because they can create Sims to fulfill their goals and dreams that seem impossible to achieve in reality. It can improve players’ confidence and self-esteem by being a “better” self, such as, non-disabled, healthy or good-looking. On the other hand, the game is problematic because it promotes the dominant ideology in our culture, such as, heteronormativity and the idea of forming a family. Hegemony is heavily perpetuated in the marketing of Sims 3, which its trailers and commercials are all featuring the mostly light skinned, Caucasian looking, and slim-built Sims. Also, the dominant ideology of family is also reinforced in the ads, which often show an opposite-sex couple forming a home with a newborn baby or a child.
The popularity of the Sims sequel shows the underlying problems in our reality, which fails to provide a safe environment for people to staying true to their identities and thus seek games to mediating certain identities. The Sims 3 is a good text to scrutinize the dominant hegemonic system, regarding race, gender, and sexuality in our culture.