Steam is having a sale on something called The Sims 3 Ultimate Bundle, which includes the base game, two stuff packs, and three full-fledged expansion packs for half fucking off. Half fucking off! Now, I played the shit out of Sims 1 & 2 (You know how Sims don’t explicitly poop? That was me. I did that) and was super excited about the third when it came out, but something about it just wasn’t as… I don’t know, I never quite figured out what it was, but I only managed to play it obsessively for a couple weeks instead of years, years of my life, gone down the shitter like so much sterile, innocuous, crystal clear urine from the pixel-censored crotch of a little computer person who probably doesn’t even own a urethra.
Whatever was lacking, or different — I should figure this out; it will drive me nuts — must have been substantial, because I dropped the franchise like a bucket of pig blood. Didn’t buy any expansion packs. Didn’t even check in to see how the expansion packs were doing and ask if they’d heard from Grandma. Had no intentions to, either. But… half fucking off!
So I read reviews, and people were excited. All sorts of new gameplay, they said. Your Sims could go to exotic locales and solve (supereasy) puzzles in treasure-filled tombs, they said. You could control your Sims at work, of all things! What a concept! And they said it was fun! You could name your car and learn martial arts and form a rock band and vacuum up ghosts and — oh, except you have to do laundry now, which, like, fuck that, but still — and sculpt and take photos and work as a tattoo artist and go on quests and um I’m not super into vampires but they have this really cool heat-vision thing and um new bathtub for rich people and OH MY GOD OH MY GOD okay this is getting its own paragraph
TWO! NEW! SLIDERS! For Create-A-Sim mode! And one of them is tits! See, I um kind of have ridiculous cartoon breasts. I am not saying this to boast, or titillate (hee hee), or make anyone without ridiculous cartoon breasts feel bad and inferior. They just happened when I was fourteen and they have yet to go away. Sometimes my impossibly skinny, physically fit friends express jealousy regarding them and I say “Yes but you have visible abdominal muscles and a waist smaller than my left thigh. Plus they’re obnoxiously heavy, I keep banging them into doorways, and they make it hard to find cute clothes. Also, as feminists, we should love ourselves for our insides, not our cup size, am I right?” Then we share a nice hug and talk about how much flow we’re having, which, believe me, is considerable… where was I? Oh, but yeah, the Sims used to make me choose between accuracy of the tits and accuracy of the hips and ass, so the concept of a boob slider… it might be hyperbole, but I’m going to go with “magical,” dammit, and you can’t stop me.
So, yeah, I caved. The download started — gosh, six hours! — and I read more reviews, imagining myself living vicariously through a cartoon-breasted, jetsetting, ghostbusting sim with a really nice bathtub and a car named Porkchop. The internet, as it does sometimes, began to chronically shit itself. Nooo, my download! It was all right, though, because one thing I’d learned from the early CD-ROM era is that the more you want to play a certain game, the less the game will allow itself to be easily played. So I babysat Steam, bouncing the router, paying my dues, and daydreaming. Gosh, what was I going to do first? You couldn’t raid French tombs, play the drums, and sculpt replicas of all the chairs in your house at the same time, you know. Read more reviews. Oooh, butlers! I would have to get me one of those someday. Oh, hey, is the download nearly over? Oh my God, the download’s over! I can play the game!
Fire the thing up, it’s loading, I can almost taste the nipples on that boob slider, and get this: the power goes out. For two hours. It’s not even raining; it’s not anything. The sun comes up and for the first time I debate the wisdom of having power blinds in the living room. I sit next to the back door and go over old kanji until it’s time to leave for class. If the game doesn’t want me to play it this badly, I think, it must be amazing.
Power’s back on after class. No more false starts. I’m fucking playing this game, I vow, and the game, surprisingly, is amenable. The boob slider works as advertised. For verisimilitude, I give the cartoon-breasted little sim me the Absent-Minded trait, a decision I will come to regret almost sooner than immediately. The game suggests some lifelong ambitions for her, one of which is reaching the top of the Stylist profession. I briefly envision turning all those horrible townies with their horrible townie hair into the audience at a Leslie and the LY’s show. Yes. God. Yes. I click.
Hmm. Her stylist job starts on Tuesday, and today is Sunday. Guess we can take it chill for a couple days, hang out, do whatever she wants. She wants, in quick succession, to learn charisma, read a book about charisma, and go to the bookstore. Gee, guess what we’re doing? I zoom out, find the bookstore, tell her to go there. She descends in the elevator, touches pavement, and immediately forgets what she’s doing. I sigh and relocate the bookstore, and via subway (subway you guys! pretty cool huh?) she heads extremely slowly over there. We are talking Planckian movement units. We are talking a chihuahua crossing the street on its tiny little legs.
She makes it eventually. “I really should have made two sims,” I think, as I watch her read on a bench. “Because holy fuck is this boring.” Screw what she wants; I’m sending her over to chat with this awesomely dressed chick. Hmm, did it always take so long between queued-up social interactions? I don’t remember all this awkward staring and shuffling. Great, now she’s hungry. (Staring burns calories!) I send her on the three-month journey home to make dinner. Naturally, she forgets what the hell she was doing. Well, she’s really hungry, I reason, she’ll figure it out eventually. She stands in the kitchen, maybe two feet away from the refrigerator, bitching about how hungry she is.
ME: I’m not telling you to make food. You’ll have to figure it out for yourself.
ME: Nope. Sorry. Shit, wait, did I turn off the… no, this thing says your autonomy level is very high. Let’s see some damn autonomy, then.
ME: Fridge! Right! There! Make! Some! Food! Jesus Christ, even I can figure that out. You see how I’m eating right now? Not starving to death two feet away from sustenance?
ME: Man, I swear you fuckers used to feed yourselves. Okay, fine. *click*
By the time she is finished cooking and eating her macaroni and cheese, her bladder bar and her energy bar are both completely red. In quick succession, she pees herself, develops a wish to buy a clothes dryer, and passes out in her own urine. (This is what happened to my first ever Sim on her first day of existence, except wants and dryers didn’t exist back then, and she did it at a party.)
What I am saying is I will call you guys back when the jetsetting rockstar life begins.
* The original version of this dialogue used the . ! ? punctuation sequence which is one of my lazy standbys, but on re-reading I realized how much of a lie this is, as sims only really have one way to say “hungry!” . ! ? is still an incredibly useful counterpart to the Comedy Rule of Three, though. Feel free to change it up as the situation warrants: sometimes what you want is a ? ! . or even a ? !, if you’re feeling fat and sassy. (Please note, however, that the linked example is a callback and therefore possibly subject to different rules. There’s a dissertation in here somewhere and I pray to God it’s not mine.)
Update: I left her alone in her apartment while I went to the bathroom, figuring it’d be hypocritical of me to pee myself. When I came back she was sleeping on a park bench outside the subway station. The fuck, little sim me?