The Church of Me: Sims and Religion. Why not?
This is something I'd normally save until The Sunday Papers, but I think there's a debate here you comments-threaders would enjoy. After reading Tom Chick's interview with the Sims Producer MJ Chun where she elegantly ducks a question on why they don't include religion, Troy Goodfellow starts wondering about - er - the problems of - er - being a Good fellow. He thinks a strict idea that religion or faith should be popping off to Church on a sunday is misplaced anyway. And there's little in the way which the sims are twisted which allow to pursue humanity's non-materialistic side.
But look at the Sims trait list. No altruistic only ambitious. No kind hearted, but there is mean spirited. No generous, but there is mooch. Hopeless romantic, but no celibate. All the best virtues are lumped into one large “Friendly” category that is used to force you to make your Sim accumulate friends. The “Good” trait is the catch all for the Christian virtues we’ve been raised one. Not that the traits are everything, but they do – in general – point toward characteristics that are about gathering, collecting and self-improvement. They are a representation of how the game sees story telling.
And it is interesting that secularised non-faith based spirituality is included in the form of Ghosts - which, as an atheist of a hard-science bent, always grated at me - but avoiding anything else. Even away from the matter of faith, while I'd disagree with a reading that made the Christian Virtues actually connected with Christianity rather than core human altruism, the relative dearth of positive traits does speak towards a worldview. And, as Alice and Kev has painfully shown, a characters more empathic traits can provoke as much drama and heartbreak. In fact, it's only in the context of the good that human cruellness has meaning. That's drama.
The more I think, the more I'm disappointed by any attempt at simulating a faith in the game when the Sims dealt with human sexuality so elegantly - and without igniting a tinderbox which it could easily have done. And the more I think, returning to one of my standard motifs, the more I wish there was a serious competitor to the Sims which took a radically different view of human nature.