The (Sim)bolism in Games

Let’s do something different. I am in the gaming mood right now, but trust me, I wasn’t playing video games over the entire weekend. Remember the simulation game made by Electronic Arts called Simcity? Well I noticed that there are some ideas related with nature in this game. Create new profile: Miles. Start city. Before you begin building your city, you are in the stage called “God Mode”. In this stage, you can manipulate nature into almost anything you want. Perhaps a mountain here would be nice. Maybe a lake would enhance my city-under-construction. Let’s add some trees to create a jungle. How about some llamas? I don’t know about you, but I find this game naturally addicting. For some reason, I find pleasure in making nature into anything I wish. I find pleasure in summoning UFOs or tornadoes to attack the city. Why? I do not know. It’s not like I’m a bad person who enjoys the sight of pain. I think it’s just this inherent human characteristic. We all want power over nature. It’s built into our minds and hardwired in. That is how EA can make so much money from its games. They appeal to natural human desires. Now this is what I consider an effective corporate marketing strategy.

You can’t talk about Simcity without talking about its counterpart, the Sims. I have recently spent some time playing Sims 3, in which you get to create and control your Sim’s life and fate. Again, you play the god figure. First you construct the physical features of your Sim. Next you can select from a plethora of personalities and traits to create your ideal (or non-ideal) Sim. You control his or her lifespan, every action, and basically everything. This successful game is quite popular and widely acclaimed. Why do we find so much pleasure in controlling the lives of other “humans”? Does this game serve as a means of venting or living vicariously? Maybe we want the feeling of power, not just over nature, but also over other humans, which makes us consider whether the major battle is always between nature and humanity.

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