For my first article in awhile, I figured it best I start with something I know really well. Something with which I am terribly and ashamedly familiar. It eats up my days and infiltrates my dreams. It is Sims 3. Yes, I have had dreams where at the bottom of my dream there are little bars indicated how happy/hungry/tired/etc. I am. As many of my friends well know, this game is my go to thing. I play it while I watch (and re-watch) episodes of Psych and Big Bang Theory, watch movies for my thesis, read for class or read anything else.
So, before I start in on my complaints, it should be clear to all that I am deeply obsessed with this game. Especially once the Supernatural expansion pack came out. I am, as I write this, working feverishly to get my sim abducted by aliens so he will have a little alien baby. I am so obsessed with this game that I am writing this post on my ipad (I have two key boards in front of me) while I am watching Psych on my laptop as I play Sims 3 on my desktop. Can you blame me?*
The game is far from perfect from any perspective, feminist or just practical game play. But I just love it so much. In general, the game is extremely infuriating. It freezes. It quits unexpectedly. It takes forever to load. The time stutters and the sims take forever to do the stupidest thing. It may be my computer, but these seem to be common problem if one takes the forums into account. If you do not love the game, then you almost certainly hate it. I honestly have no idea why I love it so much. Well, it could have something to di with my God complex and the fact I am too lazy to become a surgeon.
From a feminist perspective (a general liberal one), this game is pretty great. There are a lot of positives. The most obvious one to me is that there are no accidental pregnancies (other than the alien ones, but you can give that baby back to its alien family or keep it). It is the ideal in family planning. Adoption is also easy, which is great since, as my second point, there are not obstacles to same sex relationships. They do keep to to biology and these couples cannot have biological children together, but they can, as I wrote, adopt. The game also has any body type one likes and as far as I can tell weighing more or having a weird face does not affect things. **
There is also no wage gap or employment difference. Anyone can work anywhere and they get paid the same based on their skills and experience. The only difference between men and women is that women get pregnant. The father does not get time off while the mother is pregnant, but I believe he gets paternity leave once the child is born. This happens when a family adopts, as well. And this time off is paid. This topic may require an update later, though, since I have been doing a lot of single parent families lately.
Far more issues come up when looking at this game from a more extreme feminist perspectives. One complaint I have heard, for example, is that when a woman is pregnant she has a moodlet that pretty much guarantees her to be happy. This moodlet implies, the argument goes, that any woman will be ecstatic when pregnant. However, what this argument fails to take into account is that a woman cannot get pregnant unless she is trying to do so. When the man gets knocked up by the alien he does not have this positive moodlet. In fact, he has a negative one about unknown weight gain.
Another issue is Sims 3’s obnoxious and strenuous insistence on monogamy. There are a few levels to romantic relationships – love interest, girl/boyfriend, fiance, husband/wife. If the sim flirts with anyone else while even at the love interest stage, then they are considered to be cheating. This is extremely annoying for a few reasons. One of them being that if I want to have a polyamorous sim, the game is set up to make this basically impossible. Eventually one or both of the people will flip out and you will get a negative reputation. The Sim 3 set up is so ardently monogamous that you can even get a constantly faithful moodlet which gives your sim’s mood a significant and permanent boost.
There are a few other things, but this article has gotten a bit long. Most likely there will be subsequent parts as I think of more topics. As for these examples, Sims 3 seems to be pretty feminist friendly. There are little annoyances, sure. If any of those annoyances are a person’s personal feminist pet peeve, then that could be a significant problem. Overall, though, there is no real difference between the male and the female characters and the Sim world is a rather impressive utopia. I mean, you get childcare for 75 simoleans for no matter how long you are out (a person at the middle of their professional track can usually make that in an hour).
*At this point in writing the post, my sim was abducted. What no one told me was that only human sims (mine was a witch) could get knocked up by the aliens.
**To be completely honest, though, I always make my sims aesthetically pleasing to me which tends to make then look a bit like Hugh Jackman. And frequently red or green.