ErotiSim: Sex and The Sims

[This is a particularly long piece on The Sims which was written for a project that was canceled at the last minute a couple of years back. Which is a shame, but at least I got paid for it, eh? It’s sat around ever since, but since it really is particularly long, it’s hard to work out a home. And I’m a little bit precious over it. So rather than cut it to something smaller, I’d rather present it here. Hope you enjoy it.]

Then bite and tear her flesh away. That's the way to do it..

It was the phone calls that made me certain. The Sims was going to cross over, one way or another.

I worked in a cramped games magazine office for just shy of five years. There were only three times that we really knew the eye of a media mini-storm was circling somewhere above us. We knew we were being watched at those moments, because every time we answered the phone the same questions came from different missionaries from the Real World Media. The first and biggest spike in calls was part of the fallout of 9/11 when every journalist in the world needed to ask us whether Counter-Strike or Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear or Microsoft Flight Simulator could be used to train terrorists to take over commercial airliners. Majestic, prompting the second and smallest peak, was publisher Electronic Arts’ great failure – a reality-blurring attempt to commercialise the alternate-reality game before anyone really knew what an alternate-reality game was, which bombed in the States and was never released in Europe. The third was sparked by The Sims, Electronic Arts’ great success and one of the most popular and groundbreaking games of recent times.

As much as an article has an origin, it is in one of those calls. It was from a freelancer from help-the-homeless-help-themselves magazine The Big Issue, which wanted to run a feature on The Sims’ runaway success. He was, essentially, looking for a quote saying that it was played by those with no social life to indulge in a surrogate fictional one. He wasn’t interested in the truth – he admitted he’d been provided an angle by his Editor and was working to fulfil it. So I just informed him that, actually, The Sims was actually already receiving a snobbish backlash from actual hardcore gamers, and its fans were in fact non-typical players. Normal people were digging it, not just crazed obsessives. All the while, of course, I was thinking that I should point out that phoning me and asking for that sort of quote was a little like me phoning him and asking him to say that all the homeless are work-shy layabouts who stink of piss.

He’d got it entirely wrong. His wasn’t the answer. But what was? It got my thoughts rolling, and eventually those thoughts coalesced to a single point.

It’s sex.

It’s not the only answer. The Sims is a people simulator, based around creating tiny homunculi and guiding their lives. You get to design and decorate their house, and send them off to work to earn money which you then spend on increasingly luxurious furnishings. It’s this, not the dark urges of the night which actually provides its structure. To use Owain Bennallack’s memorable description, The Sims is an apologia for consumerism. A good life needs friends and company, yes, but a better life can be purchased incrementally at Ikea.

It’s improvisational soapish social fiction, with a full neighbourhood cast interacting under the gamer’s eye and influence. It’s a tool for making dream houses and dream lives – it’s worth nothing that the original working title Will Wright gave The Sims was Doll’s House until they noticed it wasn’t particularly popular with typical gaming (i.e. male) focus groups. Unsurprisingly. It’s also a tool for darker, more transgressive fantasies: like all doll’s houses, it’s open to the sort of misuse that older brothers gleeful deploy on younger sisters’ toys. Placing a Sim in a windowless room and refusing to let them out until they starve to death is the modern equivalent of catching a spider beneath a glass in terms of suburban cruelty and torture, with the bonus of a lower arachnid body count.

But while sex is only a relatively small part of The Sims – crucially, your Sim can meet and form relationships with other Sims – it’s the dark heart that underlies everything. It’s not the engine of the game, but the romantic potential is its fuel, driving it onwards. Perhaps appropriately. The Sims simulates life and life’s nothing but a mass of social fabric wrapped tightly around that spark of attraction. And…

Make Out, Fall Out, Make Up. Yes.

Now, I’m aware of Wilde’s “All criticism is autobiography” maxim, and I know that, more than any other game, this is true of The Sims. The world resulting from your actions tends to echo your world-view. You design your Sims, choose what they want and then help them towards it. Being a game about life that places its boundaries admirably wide, players can find whatever world they wish inside it. The classic example of how your desires change the world is how The Sims 2 decides your Sims’ sexuality. Sims are inherently bisexual. It’s only by your actions that their sexuality starts to solidify. Make them act romantically towards the opposite sex and their tastes lean towards straight, and vice versa. Do both, and they’ll become bisexual. If you’re someone who only makes heterosexual actions in the game, a heterosexual world will result. The Sims is a mirror.

I’m someone who tends to see the world as a brittle shell over a twitching mass of sexual longings, and my games tend to devolve into love-dodecahedrons as everyone has had a passing moment with everyone else. It could easily be argued that I’m not writing about everyone, but just myself. It’s the equivalent of someone who really liked designing wallpaper textures in The Sims writing a piece about the dark heart of the game being the variable quality of its fittings. It’s not The Sims, it’s me.

That makes perfect sense. Could even be true. I don’t think it is.

You see, there was one similarity about the majority of those phone-calls. After I’d explained the basics, it immediately gravitated towards matters carnal. Can they kiss? Can they have children? Can they have sex? And it’s not just the reporters looking for a story – chat to a non-gamer about The Sims, and the same questions inevitably arise. It’s what they want to know and players are happy enough to tell them. If you listen to people – teenagers especially – talk about The Sims, and if it’s not a tale of toilet-hiding simulated sadism, the conversation inevitably gravitates towards what one Sim did to another. While the amount of time you spend doing any of these acts in the game proper is proportionally tiny – as in real life, unless you’re a sex-worker of some kind – the impact is huge. It is, in some reason, why you do everything else – the point. The pay-off.

That it included these elements is a reason that people have been attracted to The Sims – a life without love, after all, is not much of a life at all. But that there’s an actual power to the in-game incarnation is one reason why it is so enthralling. This is surprising. I’d only realised the actual emotional weight of The Sims when I actually played the original game seriously. That is, sitting down by myself for a few hours, with no distractions. I’d played it in the office, everyone crowded around a PC and shouting orders at whoever was holding the mouse: the simple joy of seeing what this strange toy could do and laughing when a Sim was reduced to tears, or when they wet themselves due to us forgetting to leave time in their busy schedule for bathroom visits. But actually playing with the dolls solo, it was immediately different. I got into it. And as the romances blossomed in the first game, and the slow flirtations with the characters escalated, I was slightly surprised to see that – yes – there was an erotic frisson to it. Not an overwhelming wave of lust, but an awareness that, yeah, I was a bit turned on. Like a hot scene in a film or a book, buttons were being pressed.

It was the last thing I was expecting.

Plaid picnic sheets drive people wild. No, really

While writing this piece I went for a few drinks with my girlfriend and her annoyingly pretty, annoyingly literary friends. One made the mistake of sticking me with a pointed question on what I was writing for The Book, and had my greasy innards slide forth and bury her alive. She was mildly horrified. She talked about seeing her nine-year-old cousin playing The Sims, before tentatively asking about how lurid its depictions actually get. The subtext is clear: is this something she should be worrying about?

It’s a fair question. And here another aspect of The Sims’ perceptual tricks comes into play. Purely conceptual erotic stimulation – that is, through text in fiction or internet cyber-sex or whatever – is inappropriate for kids. Equally obviously, visual erotic stimulation – from a film sex-scene to your common or garden pornography – is even more obviously inappropriate. Both are overtly sexual. But the little animated world of The Sims, the actual visual feedback, is tame beyond belief. This is why a response – any response at all – immediately bemuses. At its wildest, when two Sims ‘makes whoopee’, as the game coquettishly puts it, both happily disappear beneath the sheets in a whirl of limbs. It’s hardly the continuing sexual adventures of Brianna Banks.

For that nine-year-old cousin, there is nothing there. There’s literally no more than playing with dolls. Eventually, if they love each other, a baby may come along. It’s just a part of playing at grown-up relationships, as you might do with more traditional toys. It’s also the reason why there’s no danger, as the real charge of The Sims’ erotic element is less in the game, and more in the mind that’s controlling it.

To illustrate this, let’s look at a more extreme group’s use of identical dolls. For pre-pubescents, for all their playful voyeuristic perversity with drawing nipples on Barbie dolls or whatever, they’re just dolls. Compare and contrast to the use that many macrophiles find for the same toys. Macrophiles, as the name may suggest, are people who are turned on by the idea of larger sexual partners. They’re usually males. And the women in question are usually much larger, in an Attack Of The 50ft Foot Woman sort of way.

And the urge is to snigger, but the underlying sadness is that it’s a fetish that can have no real release. These are people with urges that they’ll never be able to express fully. That’s as sad as it gets. So, until mad science goes awry and titanic blondes bestride the Earth, they have to use their imagination. One common method involves Barbie dolls and plastic soldiers, using the juxtaposition between the two characters – tiny soldier and enormous Barbie – as an erotic focus for their masturbatory fantasies.

Same toys, but two very different forms of play depending on whether they’re existing in the mind of a child or a mind of a macrophile.

I give you The Sims.

Clicking with Confidence.

Some people take this sexual kick further than others. When radical anti-games lawyer Jack Thompson shouted about the user-created game modification that made Sims appear naked in an attempt to get EA (and games) bad press, all it really showed was the limit of his research. There’s much worse out there than just a few bare behinds. While most are happy with the implicit sexual contact in the original game, others want a little more. Or a lot more. Or a world where there are chairs with dildos mounted where Sims can sit and pleasure themselves, or hermaphroditic characters with two sets of genitals, to choose a couple of actual examples. Predictably, this isn’t the normal part of the average gamer’s experience, but like a developmental biologist using rare, extreme and pathological mutations to understand what is normal, we can look at the Sims-porn modding subculture and extrapolate backwards.


On sites like Simulated, Eight Deadly Sims, Pandora’s Sims and Strange Sims we see increasingly bizarre uses of the modding tools. While mainstream sites are for all ages, these have reached such a level of risqué or alternative content that the majority hide behind pay-for-access barriers to ensure that the users at least have a credit card (i.e. aren’t minors), and to earn a little cash. Of all the mod cultures online – and virtually every PC game has users making their own additional content either in publisher-supported or unofficial ways – it’s only The Sims which has such an obvious number of sites which demand money for access. This is particularly unusual: there’s a clause in EA’s tool licence that they can only be used “on your personal non-commercial website”. That Electronic Arts hasn’t gone after such a sizeable community is interesting in and of itself.

It’s not as if they haven’t had time to notice. I talk to Blade, the curator of Pandora’s Sims, who tells me that the site’s first incarnation – the admirably pun-worthy Sims Exposed – started almost as soon the game first appeared. “I was playing the game one day and I noticed it was a bit boring,” Blade describes. “So I thought… hey! I know what would keep me interested in this! If the Sims were running around naked!”. Taking the standard skins which came with The Sims, with their blurred-out crotches, and transposing in genitalia from his collection of (er) erotic images, he uploaded it to immediate success and controversy. Years later, Pandora’s Sims gets just shy of a million hits a month with over 500 paying subscribers.

While Blade mainly plays up his own interest in nude Sims as essentially comedy, laughing himself sick at clothed Sims failing to recognise they’re talking to a nudist, the site’s success points to something more. Comedy isn’t one of the things people tend to pay for on the internet. Why do people join the site? He ends up drawing a comparatively sub-cultural conclusion. “A lot of people see The Sims as a new generation of anime porn, and anime has always been popular,” Blade notes, referencing hardcore Japanese animation (More commonly known as Hentai). “Hell, you ask anyone, and I a bet they’ll say they’ve downloaded anime at least once. The Sims is also supposed to simulate real life. What Maxis [the game’s developers] didn’t realise is peeps want it as real as possible. Like it or not, porn exists in the real world and so does sex and nudity, and peeps want to see this in The Sims whether [Maxis and EA] like it or not.”


It’s the inverse of Jack Thompson’s argument. The radical lawyer posited that since Electronic Arts created the tools which let people add content to the game, they should be responsible for that content – a little like expecting the pencil-maker to be responsible for any resulting sketch. Blade believes he’s using the tools in ways that Maxis had never thought about and wouldn’t approve of. I’m not convinced. The presence of sex, in no matter what limited form, in the original game shows that they were all too aware what people would be interested in, but also knew that by pushing it into the realms of porn they’d never manage to sell in the modern marketplace. Wal-Mart will happily stock SimCity, but not SimFuck. However, while they can’t be responsible for the work people create with their tools, Thompson may be right on one thing – that they knew that people would take the steps they couldn’t for financial reasons. As Blade notes: “Peeps have to buy their game to get our stuff,” he grins. “More $$$ for them.”

So how does The Sims create this ghostly eroticism? There are two main precedents. The first is the one Blade pointed out – hentai, or more generally cartoon porn. Looking purely at the visual elements, it makes sense. The Sims could, with current technology, be rendered in a more realistic fashion, but a more iconic, cartoon approach is utilised. We watch The Sims and we see little animated people making out. It’s certainly true with the porn mods – the implicit becomes overt, what is hinted at now impossible to ignore. You could play The Sims in front of your mother in its unmodified state and not feel ashamed. With the harder edge of Blade’s work attached, unless you have particularly liberal parents, you probably couldn’t.

There are comparisons, sure, but for the game in its natural state, this rings untrue. The actual imagery which you get there is no more explicit than an average Saturday morning cartoon.

There’s something more at play here.

The second precedent is cyber-sex – text-based exchanges between anonymous individuals on the internet, via one of the many communication systems (Instant Messenger, IRC, MUDs). The comparison here is that it’s a form of erotic stimulation only made possible by a machine. When collected into a text document, cyber-sex looks like a badly written sex story – reading one is high comedy. The kick is in the process of its creation, the improvisation, the waiting between words, the place for the mind to run rampant. It’s sex cut to the ideas. We know that sex exists primarily in the mind, but, as Julian Dibbell wrote in his book charting his time living on LamdaMUD, My TinyLife, “It’s one thing to grasp the notion intellectually and quite another to feel it coursing through your veins amid the virtual steam.”

This seems closer – it’s clear that The Sims’ power comes not from the imagery but the ideas – but it’s still not right. With The Sims, there’s an even sharper comparison, because cyber-sex arose in one of its spin-off incarnations, The Sims Online. Peter Ludlow’s expose of the sordid subculture of online brothels where players would sell cyber-sex for in-game currency – and that the madam was actually a young teenage boy – caused huge controversy, but it was no real surprise to any net veteran. Online games with communication channels always grow their sex subculture. In a game as technically poor as The Sims Online, it’s no surprise that a certain strata of players would turn to sex for their entertainment and in-game profit. Sex sells, especially when there’s nothing better to do.

Primative courtship rituals, yesterday.

It’s here we focus on the real difference. As a design, The Sims Online tore the heart out of The Sims in its attempt to capture the massively multiplayer market. The original game is a true single-player experience, in that the vast majority of the entertainment comes from interacting with people who have to be computer-controlled. Befriending an awkward character through your Sims’ skills is a challenge. Befriending a Sim Online is a matter of just chatting to someone via the text interface, and if you hit it off pressing the ‘Friend’ button. The former is a videogame. The latter is just human social life through an alternative route. Cyber-sex is reliant on there being another person involved, but with the shield of anonymity. The Sims – where it interacts with the brain, becomes interesting and enthrals – is because there is no other person there.

This relies on two of the mystical cores of the videogame. Specifically, immersion and interaction.

Immersion is the end result of the road man started on at the beginning of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. That is, the ability for mankind to extend its consciousness into things which are not it. In other words, a club can become a surrogate claw. A car can become surrogate legs. A computer character can become a surrogate you. When playing Tomb Raider, no-one says says the accurate “that wolf killed Lara Croft”, but rather “that wolf killed me”. Man and machine as one, our consciousness possessing it as modern voodoo.

In the case of The Sims, when we sit and play for a long period of time, we identify increasingly with the characters. We invest. In a long session – and videogame playing sessions are usually longer than a single sitting with any other common cultural form – we’re heavily invested in them. This is why playing with the sexual elements of The Sims in company is comedy and by yourself has that erotic edge. A girlfriend dressed up for a Hallowe’en party in a ludicrously sexy outfit means one thing at a party, but quite another thing privately. Context is all, and in its true solo context we can lose ourselves in The Sims.

Imprinting on our characters over a period of hours engages the adult mind. We know what these simple, iconic forms are actually doing. In other words, we know what they’re doing under the covers and why they may like it and so why we may like it.

Immersion happens when we enter any fictional world, to different degrees. Where it increases in games is that we also have interaction. That is to say, you’re in control… mostly.

A horror game is scariest when you’re unsure of the rules. In the sublime stealth game Thief, shadows conceal you from passing guards. Light areas reveal you. When you’re inexperienced, you don’t understand the exact positions of the boundaries, so you can’t be sure whether a guard will pass by or notice you. The tension is brutal, and the game’s never more enthralling. As your knowledge of what guards will see and hear increases, the game becomes less terrifying. Knowledge is power and the powerful have nothing to fear.

While gaining power brings a different sort of pleasure – that of control – it also generally detracts from emotional impact. It becomes less of an immersive event, and more of a traditional game. In short, videogames are most enthralling emotionally when you’re least in control. As you gain in one area of enjoyment as you lose in another.

You dancing? You asking. You asking? Well, (

It’s true in The Sims. Exposure weakens the Sims – remember the search for a way to make the game “more interesting” as one of the cited reasons for Blade to add more explicit content to the game. When you start, all is unsure. You don’t know the rules, or the real likelihood for success or failure. When I turn to kiss the girl, will she meet my lips or turn away? How far shall I push it? Will the person in the next room hear? What will they do?

And that’s it. The magic of The Sims is that you are both in control and not in control. You can live out your fantasies, imprinting on these fictional characters, deciding what they’ll do next, but you can’t be sure if it’ll all turn out okay. In the moment between ordering a Sim to kiss and seeing the response… that’s where the erotic sparks. It’s not the animation that’s the pay-off – but that you were accepted, the seduction worked, they wanted you after all. And it’s not that you’ve kissed someone, but you know who that person is due to having spent so much time in their simulated company. The Sims is sexy because it creates a complete naturalistic context for it to occur in. It’s about the people, not the actual fucking.

Or so goes the theory. I’m not sure if I believe it myself. I think I do.

You see, the sexual urge is easily tricked. I recall the story about a certain species of rare bright-yellow dragonfly with its numbers dropping like – well – flies. Biologists investigate. They discover that the males have lost all interest in the females, instead preferring to spend all their brief existence attempting to have sex with the enormous bright yellow gas tank just beside the lake. It was theorised that their sexual turn-ons were simply “Long, ovoid and bright yellow”. In rare dragonfly world, that gas-tank was the sexiest thing on Earth. Scientists painted the tank blue and the dragonflies returned to normal.

We laugh at the stupid invertebrates, but we’re just as bad. Take a picture of a naked woman in a magazine. Why does that turn most men on? It’s a two-dimensional image which may not even be in colour. It bears virtually no attribute in common with a real woman but a man’ll happily pay money (or burn bandwidth) to spill his seed over it.

We’re not that clever.

He's coping a feel!

I wasn’t sure I wanted to write this article. It seemed a little strange, even for me, so I felt out the topic with a few of my associates outside of the gaming mainstream. One, an English teacher, hit me with the following anecdote.

She too had a friend. A lovely, if particularly fucked-up friend, involved in a relationship of five years’ standing with a lovely (if particularly frustrated) man. A symptom of their problems was that they still had never had sex. She’s not a gamer, but plays The Sims. And on more nights than not, made thinly veiled analogues of her and her partner fall in love and fall into each others arms. Maybe Big Issue Guy had a point – just not the one that his Editor’s prejudices led him to. It’s not gaming geeks with unsatisfied lives. It’s just people. It’s everyone.

I decided to write the article.


  1. The_B says:

    I think it’s something about both simuluations and quite a few games in general for that matter, that seem to have all that more significance to us when the factors out of our control affect our perception and indeed enjoyment out of them, and not just in a sexual way.

    One instance I can think of that tugs emotionally (although far from a sexual way) is Broken Sword 3 when (Spoiilers) Bruno sacrifices himself. It happens during a cut scene, of which you have no control over whatsoever. He throws himself at the mercy of the guardian, and you have no choice but to watch as an observer. You know you can’t possibly save him, and the game makes no attempt to convince you that maybe you could (unlike say, Aries’ death in FF7) – and as a result it’s probably one of the most powerful moments emotionally in gaming.

    So to me, the points raised here are perfectly valid, but they do throw up the interesting question then – are we as gamers and heck, human beings, more attached emotionally to events out of our control? Either that are scripted in a story (heck, even in The Sims I’d hazard to say we’re writing our own ‘story’as we go along as it were)and happen as a result of our actions, those which are incidental that happen around or stories, or those which are going to happen regardless of what we do – even if we do nothing?

    *Phew* – Now to see if that makes sense when I post it…

  2. Miles says:

    This is bloody brilliant. By turns funny and sad (am I the only one still being depressed a lot by the idea of people who’s sexual needs cannot possibly be fuliflled? Someone should make a really bleak three hour movie or something) and very clever.

    KG for president, etc. I have no idea what the book was that this was meant for but the world is a poorer place without it.

  3. Babs says:

    Fantastic article, one of the best game-oriented articles I’ve read.

    Your point about The Sims being a mirror of our own personality is something that had never occurred to me before, yet is so obviously true. Seeing the design from that perspective really makes you appreciate Will Wright’s talent. And perhaps if the Sims is such reflection of human nature and open to such individual interpretation then it can legitimately be called Art (IMO very, very few games are).

    On the other hand I’m now thinking back to all of the sims I played with and coming to some worrying conclusions!


  4. Jared says:

    I’m now waiting for the next blog post that tags “Macrophilia.”

  5. Tim says:

    Great article.

  6. Xander says:

    Fantastic article.

  7. RogueSoul says:

    A thought provoking read.

  8. abdul says:

    hai every thing every body live with sexual all the sexual machines are runs quitly dont know when will the machines
    stopped if the machines are stopped the world will in
    enjoy every minute &every day &every seconds.with love.

  9. Draugo says:

    Just wanted to point out that anime is not synonymous to porn or erotic animation. The western word to use there is hentai, which is part of anime. Otherwise a great article.

  10. Kieron Gillen says:

    Yes, should have made that clearer. Put an elaboration in.


  11. Morgaine says:

    A wonderfully insightful and well written article. Well done.

    The only fault I could find was referring to Jack Thompson twice as “radical”. A more appropriate word would be “insane”. And he’s far from radical anyway since he claims to stand for the majority, in his insane way.

    Sex drives almost everything directly or indirectly in human life, despite only a tiny part of the sexual iceberg being above the waterline. It’s no surprise that games are not exempt from its effect, but it takes insight to analyse this as well as you have done.

  12. Kieron Gillen says:

    I was being slightly tongue in cheek, and didn’t really want to derail the piece into the usual eye-rolling sneer piece at him. God knows I’ve written enough of them.

    Glad thought the piece worthwhile.


  13. Kadayi says:

    Excellent read. Although I’m not a fanatical Simmer, I do like to dip into it occasionally (as a break from CS and the like), because it’s a constructive game rather than a destructive, but I do agree half the fun comes from engineering complex sexual liaisons amongst the in game community.

  14. Jens Arnesen says:

    Brilliant. I think I just found my new favourite website.

  15. ronald says:


  16. wwarnick says:

    Loved the article. It’s rare you find something with depth and honesty in the field of video games. Either an article is light-weight or it’s emotionally charged whether in the defense or the offense, but this is a rare treasure that bypasses the stereotype.

    No matter what you think of the game, you can’t deny its effect. Whether your character actually does anything or not, the tension is there. And even though you can’t directly witness the activity, the arousal is there.

    Fortunately, I believe that sex only drives us as far as we let it, and the first step to leashing its influence is honestly identifying what pulls us in. Sims found me weak and I’ve quit playing it. Then again, not everyone wants it leashed. That’s the beauty of the article. You can appreciate an honest observation no matter what side you take.

    Loved the article. Keep it up.

  17. Kommissar Nicko says:

    I have grown immediately fond of your thinking and writing. Brilliant piece–RPS looks poised to fill the “computer gaming commentary” void so long left in my soul.

  18. Rock, Paper, Shotgun: Will Blog About PC Games for Pies » Blog Archive » Games For 2008: Spore says:

    […] into universal human interests and instincts – voyeurism, domesticity, friendship, manipulation, sex – that Spore’s concept also touches on in many ways, but, significantly, doesn’t let […]

  19. Fat Zombie says:

    Hadn’t seen this article until you linked it on the Spore one. A very good, very interesting piece.

    This should have gone into print (PC Gamer, I assume?).

  20. moromete says:

    Very nice, god here from Spore. You really can get a man trapped in an overly long article…

  21. Democracy Inaction: Blizzard vs Glider | Rock, Paper, Shotgun: We Will Rise Again says:

    […] people surely love the most about RPS is not our lengthy cleverthinks, wibbling retrospectives, bewildering references to bear-based religions or refreshingly honest […]

  22. Junior Master says:

    Wow, you are my overly verbose hero Kieron!

    I found the part about extending our consciousness into things a fascinating and thought provoking idea, I makes me wonder exactly where I end and where I begin.

  23. kine says:

    hei elsker gutta de er så kul<3<3<3

  24. hannah says:

    i love having sex so whose with me couse i saw those pictures so who wants to have sex with me

  25. blonde_kitten says:

    I am 17 years old, I believe that sex is a huge part of life and should therefore be a part of the Sims. Obviously I think there are limits to this, but I believe they should perhaps preserve their original idea of the Sims and then also possibly create expansions to this. I.e. the Sims 3 with its usual innocence perhaps more sexual undertones and have available expansion packs (not highly perverse as can be found on the net) that allow a slightly more rounded experience – and just put an 18 certificate on it, problem solved and then parents aren’t worried about their children being exposed and the adults are pleased with the new possibilities and freedoms.

    Generally the people who play the Sims, use it to experiment with things that they wouldn’t in their own lives, the reason there is so much perversity linked with the Sims is because a lot of the people that play on it are middle-aged sexually deprived males using it to live out their fantasies. Personally, I would be very interested in an allowance for teenage/adult relationships as in England sexual consent is 16, and I am in a relationship with an adult, as most girls are at my age. I think essentially the Sims is an adult game, and in that I think there should be allowances for sexual material. The majority of teenage boys aged 13 and above watch or have watched porn, depending on if they have access to it and so increased sexual material within the Sims will make no difference to their already existing sexual awareness. Children under 13 should not be playing on it anyway and it is up to the parents whether they wish to allow their children access to such material. The world is changing, people are much more open to sex and the majority of children have witnessed some form of sex by the time they are 13 whether it be in a film or even pornography. I think as time goes on the Sims may develop a somewhat pornographic nature anyway as films with full frontal nudity which were once 18s are now 15s. 12s are now 12as. I can not speak for America, but in England a game which had pornographic images would not shock. I think it is nice for the game to keep some of its initial innocence but I think it is foolish to expect the sexual undertones to stay as such. Pornography is not the source of corruption, people want and produce pornography, and there would be no market for it if it was not wanted. I think it is stupid that things such as murder and violence can exist in 12A films and that you cannot see sex, something perfectly natural and intimate, until you are 18. There is nothing wrong with sex?

    Why can’t Sims be naked? Children see and learn about the human form by age 9! Everyone knows what it looks like and I’m sure religious people would not buy the Sims anyway due to its content. People who are offended by levels of sexual content should not buy the game? Simple. It is like buying a porn film and then complaining about the content, there is no sense in it. People who are offended by nude Sims need to see a psychologist; it is not the 1800s!

    I feel that as much as we might stress that sex is not that important in life, I think it is naïve to think this. Sex is the source of creation; sex is the instinct to survive. You cannot deter instinct and you cannot deny its existence. A life simulation game needs sex in it to be lifelike? I do not understand the innocent term ‘woohoo’?? Children learn the word sex at age 7! We like to think children are innocent and unknowing but they aren’t. When I was 13/14 me and my friends played on the Sims and we all thought it was irritating the way sex was down toned so much in the game! And why are you only able to have sex in a bed? Why only when you’re in love? And why only with people of the same age? Most teenage girls have older boyfriends. I disagree with the idea of Sims being able to have sex when 14, however I think at 16 a Sim should be able to have sex? That’s what teenage life is about, sexual development! Puberty, hormones hence the phrase; horny teenager. Masturbation should be possible etc… etc… I don’t think you necessarily have to see it i.e. like you would in pornography but this option should exist in the game even if it is hidden as sex currently is (beneath bed covers). I just think it is silly to keep the game so innocent because teenagers essentially are perverts! As much as people might believe in innocence and naivety, people do want filth, and although there are limits to this, you cannot deny the importance of sex in life, both adulthood and especially in the teen years where the sex drive is developing. The problem with a life simulation game is that it can never properly simulate life as to do so it would become extremely inappropriate as although we might not want to think so, things that happen in life aren’t necessarily appropriate. People get murdered, raped, kidnapped, and tortured.

    I think that as the Sims develops it may become inappropriate for children as the majority of people are perverse and these are mainly the ones who purchase it! A lot of my friends (teenagers) think there should be more sex in the game, and a lot of teenage boys (as they would) think so also. EA games must have been aware that in developing a life simulation game, there would be a huge emphasis on sex, because in real life there are no blurry patches and people are not naive and essentially, in life there is a huge emphasis on sex!

    Maybe they should develop the game properly and yes, put sex in it, and put an 18 certificate on it, or they shouldn’t call it a life simulation game. As a teenage girl and speaking for my fellow teenage friends our lives our practically run by sex or the need for sex and I’m sure most teenage boys would agree to this also. We do watch porn, we are not innocent we have sex. Adult men are attracted to teenage girls and vice versa, teenage boys have affairs with older women, married men run off with 16 year old girls. We cannot pretend these things do not happen but you can show some of the negative consequences such as families breaking apart, getting pregnant, abortions, and unhappy marriages. These things are taught to us anyway and having them exist in a game would make no difference to our already existing knowledge, infact it could be quite beneficial to those people who don’t see consequences.

    So in my opinion; they should either: create Sims 4 with certificate 15 or 18, actual proper relationships sexual or otherwise, add some realism to the game? Or: keep the original innocence and have expansion packs available of 18 certificate or 15 etc… which allow for sexual content.

    And btw I’m not a sex-obsessive, I am a normal teenage girl, curious, sexually developed AND a virgin. :)

  26. Julia says:

    Interesting article. I think that some weird sexual stuff turns up isn’t that surprising. There’s plenty of other weird stuff: custom content zombies, blood-smeared furniture, suicide swords… death and sex are interesting and so they turn up in the game. Also, some custom content is made plainly for the weirdness of it.

    For me the most interesting thing about Sims2 is: (1) reaching long-term stuff like life wishes or challenges and (2) getting medieval or asiatic surroundings perfectly right. So good non-barbie skins are great for the same reason that a medieval looking car is great: A body without nipples is just as jarring as a porsche parking beside a castle.

    It’s true that there is a tension in the moment when a Sim is trying to get romantic (wether it’s the first kiss or making out) but for me the tension is the same when I play a chance card that could get my Sim promoted or laid off his job.

    But the main reason that I have difficulties believing that anyone would get mildly sexually aroused from this game: No matter what sort of weird, beautiful, scary or obscene custom content someone comes up with; play it ten times round and it get’s boring.

    I think the longest-living kick about Sims is finding new stuff (objects, clothing, skins, dildos…) and maybe at last creating it yourself. Which is why expansion packs turn up regularly and why there are so many download sites.

  27. Harry says:

    Enjoyed this article a lot. It’s refreshing to find substantial and coherent articles about gaming. Excellent site all round.

    One thing though, surely it’s Clark’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, not Kubrick’s. It’s one of my favourite films but the themes are from the book.

  28. Lone_Fox says:

    blonde kitten is right
    sex is the key to life. this game allows you to create charcters that you fall in love with . and when life get hard and depressing you can dive it to there world. relive how you things should be lived. the sims is a life simulation game how can you simulate life with out sex
    for the sim3 make a sepreate expansion pak with sex and etc and etc.
    having this virtual sex with virtual characters of ourselves will not tempt us to go have sex
    teenagers bodies are overflowing with hormones do this do that are body tells
    and virtual sex with virtual characters help easy the rush of hormones
    i my self have download many mods for this game to releave my life
    for the sims 4 i hope they get rid of simlish and put real voices it would allow people to get deeper into there characters
    blode kitten is right in the fourth grade we get that all about the human body
    children now what sex is by 7 children strt cusing in thrid gade
    were not innocent and that will never chang EA make a expansion pak put rate it adult and just ride the wave as the poular will fall for a while then people will get more and more into there characters realizing this is a true life simlation game not a shadow of life but another one
    if only you chould use the name Second life because sims 2 is about half way there. but leave the kidnapping , rape ,a nd other such un bleastes alone lenght the game so the grow up with us slow changing with us
    like but the sims online put everyone anoymous just linked by the area were you leave and grow up with the character use a headset play as the character there mistakes are your mistakes have a complete Secound life may be date live grow up buy a house and get married in the game complete seprate from or real life may this be

    sorry for my lack of puntaction and grammar i just put it out there raw and un edited

  29. zipdrive says:

    An excellent piece. One which makes you think.
    Specifically, it made me think: “gosh, I’ll never be able to right this kind of stuff. Here goes my dream of being a game jouno.”

  30. Wot I Think: About That Level | Rock, Paper, Shotgun says:

    […] than that. People’s response seems to change depending on who you play with or in front of. It’s like an inverse of the ErotiSim reaction I talked about previously. Playing with friends, we all fucked around with the Sims. Playing by myself, I took the emotional […]

  31. Roulex says:

    I can’t believe I just read this… amazing piece of journalism. Thank you for your thoughts.

  32. Web Cole says:

    Crikey. That was bloody interesting!

  33. Range says:

    Wow, it’s been a few years since this article came out right? The fact that it’s still relevant now just proves how good this piece is.
    Of cause the game world has came a long way since the days of sims1, but the basic concept stays the same for all video games I guess. The idea of being in control of an Avatar, make the Avatar move in ways that you could not do because of the limits that were forced on you by reality. Be it physical (ever watched Avatar? You should), be it societal (i dare you to try and start a romantic relationship with the next door neighbour’s grandma), or be it psychological (not everyone’s prince charming you see)
    The fulfillment of our secret desires underneath our skin drives us towards video games for satisfaction that we couldn’t do in real life. What’s the shame in that?
    The Sims served it’s purpose as a life simulation game for the masses, if you are looking for animated sex games, there are quite a few quality japanese ones out there, i’ve played one when I was 14. That was before this article btw.
    Oh and, GTAiv handled the relationship part of life pretty well. On top of the life simulation (albeit the life of a criminal), having to invest time and money in taking the gf for a date, choosing the right clothes to wear, choose the right car to joyride in, it really gets the play hooked.

    Oh and, @ blonde kitten, you’re now prob old enough, go download one of those sex simulator games and GROW UP.

    Lovely article fyi.

  34. Jim Rossignol says:

    Thanks, shoe-bot! Your comments mean a lot to us.

  35. The Sunday Papers Gillen-y Supplement | Rock, Paper, Shotgun says:

    […] The essay was basically an extended version of Culture Wargames, and I’ve never released it. Another survivor of the book was my essay on Sex and the Sims, Erotisim. If the Cradle is the one thing I’m most proud of, I think Erotisim may be the […]

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  37. Fraser Allison says:

    So I’m writing a thesis about immersion in games. Only it’s aimed at non-gamer academics, so I want to use their terminology – put it in their language. Over the course of several months the terminology keeps changing: from “hyper-reality” to “immediacy” to “meaningfulness” to “flow” and so on. Finally, a couple of days ago I decide immersion in videogames is more than any one of these things, and I write an overlong passage describing how videogame immersion is at the intersection of aesthetic, narrative and challenge presentation and how that affects our subjective experience and blah blah blah.

    And now, by pure coincidence, I come across this article about a completely unrelated topic which contains the best plain-language definition of immersion I’ve yet seen. Just in passing, you know, no big deal.


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  41. PoC says:

    Very impressive. The writing strikes me as an updated version of what people such as Turkle and Stone were writing about MUDs and sex in the 1990s, but with a more accessible tone. Scholarly, without being alienating.

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  43. ErotiSim: Sex & The Sims | Rock, Paper, Shotgun says:

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