The Sims: A simulation of S.I.N

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The video game, The Sims, is very much a classic. In the Sims you are commissioned to take complete control over the life of a virtual human being. However, the player’s responsibilities  are far greater than those found in most video games, as the player goes far beyond just taking control of your character’s movements. With the Sims things are complicated. One Sim(or one “simulation” of a person) alone has six health-bars, as opposed to the typical one “life-health-bar” most video game characters have:

  • Life.
  • Cleanliness.
  • Toilet needs.
  • Fun.
  • Sleep
  • Social.

As the player, you are commissioned to ensure that they have what they need so that none of the health-bars are depleted. The social health-bar is to be looked after by ensuring that your character has social time with other NPC (Non-Player-Character) Sims, (NPCs are characters in the game that the computer controls.) So you must ensure that your Sim goes out on dates and other social events. However, if you have your Sim out on a date with an NPC Sim, but you don’t see that their sleep health-bar is dangerously low, the Sim won’t have the common sense to go home and get some sleep. You have to command them to do that. If you don’t command them to go home and get to bed, their sleep health-bar will eventually deplete and your Sim will quite literally flop over where they are standing and sleep – right there in front of their date. Furthermore, if you don’t ensure that they are near a toilet and their toilet health-bar gets depleted they will have an accident. This will result in them becoming embarrassed and giving you the responsibility to deal with their simulated bruised pride.

What is most fun, and still kind of frustrating is to deal with, is their fun health-bar. If you are trying to max out their social health-bar, you will want your character to stay focused on the people or person they are out with. You can accomplish this by ensuring that their fun health-bar is full. If it is not, your Sim will wander off looking for something fun to do right in the middle of a date, for example. A case in point; I had my male Sim out on a date with a beautiful woman Sim. My Sim, however, liked to play video games for fun and he needed to play a video game to keep his fun health-bar full. I didn’t see that his fun health-bar was down so low. So right there at the dinner table he pulled out his tablet and began playing video games. I forced my Sim to put down the video game and get back to the woman he was on a date with. He put the game away and, within seconds – because his fun health-bar was still low, he pulled his tablet out again and resumed playing video games. He once again left his date to conduct both sides of the social conversation. I had to do the same thing with him on several occasions. I had to force him to turn off the TV and go to bed and even to put the video game down and go to the bathroom! (I am beginning to wonder if there is something more to the notion of video game addiction than all our smartest addiction counsellors combined have missed!)

Needless to say, Sims are the most unique creatures in the universe. Or are they? The Sims, is a video game that is supposed to be a “simulation” of human society. All humans have needs, such as the need for food, cleanliness, going to the bathroom, social interaction and joy.  Clearly, my Sim has no problem with meeting that last need! However, he does seem to struggle with prioritizing his needs. At the core of things, my male Sim is a computer program and so he is going to act like one. Even when his sleep health-bar is in the yellow and his fun health-bar is in the red and it is 3:30 AM and he has to be up in 4 hours to go to work, he is programmed to stay up until his fun health-bar is in good standing before going to bed.

The Sims is a video game that is more than a simulation of society, however. The Sims is a simulation of a mere human condition called S.I.N: the Selfish Independent Nature. I, the player, have to micro-manage my Sim’s life. I have to tell him to prepare a meal and, if he wasn’t too preoccupied with TV or video games, he’d go; if he was preoccupied with video games he’d still go and make dinner on account that he is programmed to do so.  Due to that same programming, once his gaming craving kicked in again, he’d forget food and go back to gaming.

In some ways, does this not sound a lot like the relationship between us and God? God will command us to do something but, due to our sinful nature, we may simply ignore Him and stay preoccupied with our desires. Unlike my Sim, however, you and I have no excuse. My Sim is hardwired to follow instructions. This is why when I tell my Sim to go and eat, he will; but he is also hardwired to meet other needs, such as “fun”. He will know which one of his needs is more dire and will meet that need first. If his fun health-bar is in the red, he will meet that need first before making something to eat. This is despite what I want, namely for him to put down the video game and eat. You and I are commanded to follow instructions. In a way, we too are hardwired. We are all inherently hardwired, via a sinful nature to, disregard God’s instructions and guidance. Our hardwiring is due to our sinful nature. However God, like a computer programmer, can change our natures to ones that obeys Him, (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17). He has offered everyone of us a way out of sin in Christ Jesus, (cf. Romans 5:8).

I want a good healthy life for my Sims in their simulated world; this is why I tell my Sim to put the video game down and go to sleep or go to the bathroom. I know what they need. God wants us to have a healthy life also, but in Him. This is why He instructs us to find our happiness in Him, (cf. Romans 8:1). We humans, however, are not hardwired to always recognize what we need when it comes to finding true happiness. Our sinful nature tells us that we need our desired world to be happy. We are wrong. There are three worlds that I can choose for my Sim to live in. He will survive quite adequately and happily in any one of them. However, there is only one world that true health and happiness can can allow us to reside in and that is in the world that is governed by God. God doesn’t micro-manage our lives the way that I micro-manage the life of my Sim. Although it is true nothing is done without God’s permission. Unlike my Sim, you and I have free-will. You get to choose where you will go in search for happiness and disregard God’s commandments and guidance. Which world are you going to reside in? A world governed by you or a world governed by God?

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