Thursday, June 18, 2009

Alice and Kev in Sims 3

Alice and Kev is a story about two homeless characters in Sims 3, played and written about by Robin Burkinshaw. Burkinshaw writes about what happens as he playes the game, each interpretation he makes in the text is based on an event.

The new version of Sims, which I haven’t played yet, seem to be an even better environment for story construction. I made a small story in Sims 2 to try it out. It was impressive then and it seems it has improved in a number of ways. Burkinshaw gives clues to the function in his text without making the text dry. Something new seems to be that characters mood is affected by how they feel about persons that are in geographic proximity. Since this is a feature I have been curios to test in my own prototypes I really wish I could spend time looking at, how it works in Sims. But that will have to happen after the dissertation is written. Only a few weeks left now.

I really recommend reading the story about Alice and Kev – it is a good story. Burkinshaw has made characters that appear, as many of the people commenting on the story says, as real people. Real people as in round characters that can act in a way that clearly distinguish them as characters with personalities, but still behave in interesting and surprising ways.

My favorite chapter is “Selflessness”. The character Alice has after many hardships finally managed to get her first salary. Only to give it away… It’s almost painful to read, knowing how much she needs that little money herself. Burkinshaw expresses in the text how his role as author/player becomes dramatic by the need to make a choice – he doesn’t really want Alice to give the money away, but lets her anyway, letting her act according to her character.
It is also interesting is to read the comments on the chapter, where the first comments are about how real Alice feels as a character, and how beautiful her gift of charity is. Then comes another interpretation by the user Danuab:
“It doesn’t mean anything. Alice has likely internalised her father’s distaste and abuse and developed a negative self-concept. She isn’t giving money away because she’s altruistic, she’s giving it away because she doesn’t think she’s worth it.”

Now we are talking. Not only have we a game that can not only generate emergent story construction that is seen by players as meaningful enough to narrate to others, we also have critical comments and interpretations of the narrative and the characters.

Games as an art form has come a long way. This is a milestone!