Peter Bacon Hales

​Chapter Seventeen-- Simerica:  Color Images, Added Illustrations, and Outtakes

​Outside the Gates of Eden:  The Dream of America from Hiroshima to Now

17.3 Matthew Hurst, visualization of the blogosphere 3. Courtesy Matthew Hurst

Matthew Hurst, visualization of the blogosphere, 2008.  Courtesy Matthew Hurst

17.3 Matthew Hurst, visualization of the blogosphere 2.  Courtesy Matthew Hurst

17.9 Ad from the first agency-based campaign for VisiCalc.  The screen shot shows business sales-flow calculations.  Home and work begin to confuse each other.

17.8 Detail of a screen-shot shown as the content being worked on by a consumer, in one of the first agency-based ads for Visicalc, showing family budget calculations.

17.7 First ad for Apple II, showing ViciCalc graphing of Dow Jones Industrials scenario, Byte​ Magazine, May, 1977.  Courtesy Dan Bricklin

17.6 Ad for Zork III!​, c. 1983

17.10 Color desktop, Windows 2.03, December, 1987

17.11 Donkey Kong​, c. 1981

​Of course you want to try them out, don't you?  If there's a hotlink on the picture, it takes you someplace where you can play each game.  

17.12 Zork!​ c. 1981

but don't resort to the map until you really, really have to...

17.15 Doom, early scene in the game.

17.16 Fallout 3​: Washington, DC in ruins after nuclear holocaust.

Grand Theft Auto IV. 

A couple of things to note, here.  First, the upper-left-hand corner contains the internet locale for the online multiplayer game from which this is screen-shotted: and the .ru tells you it's being played in Russia.  Second, the former-Soviet-Republic illegal immigrant you are playing in this iteration of the game is gunning down the "L.C. Patriotism and Immigration Authority." Probably the .ru player is not aware of the broad current of irony and sardonic satire that's been built into this scene, though most adult American gamers will have gotten it.  

Exhausted by the constant requirements and demands of needy, neurotic Sims,  many players experimented with the God mode in what might seem devilish ways.  Most notable was the death experiment:  could you kill off your sims?  The answer was: yes. Constructing an Abu Graib of a cell, providing no food or water, no toilet, only a bed and a trash can, this player posted his result-- a Sim collapsed on the floor next to a pool of her urine, the Grim Reaper about to take her away. This might seem a bizarre perversion, but Google "kill off Sims" and you'll find numerous sites detailing how you can do so;  walling off is only the most Extraordinary Rendition of techniques.  A Yahoo Answers site offered nine different ways, in response to numerous requests for ideas-- fire, drowning, electrocution, etc. And there are, according to Google, over four million YouTube uploads showing the deliberate murder of Sims by their Gods.

Ah, The Sims!  If the city's a dystopian, crime-infested nightmare peopled by dangerously anarchic, PTSD-suffering sociopaths from the former Soviet Republics;  if the countryside is aglow with residual radiation and swarming with radiologically mutated giant scorpions and bloflies, there's always the pleasant suburbs to which to retreat, where happy boys and girls make snowmen in front of the recycling bin of the pleasant Sears Craftsman bungalow.

But oh!  the constancy of need!  The fallibility of Sims!  The never-ending litany of instructions and corrections a God must proffer!  Toilets clog and overflow; stress builds up and your Sim needs to go to the movies or play some video games; hunger; boredom; loneliness:  hell.  It's just like everyday life. I need to escape the stress.  I need to play some... no. wait.  I already am playing.