Games This Decade That Were Better Than The Others – Part II

Twelfth Night is nearly here, and it’s almost time for us all to slip entirely back to our mince pie free everyday lives. How I shall miss these days of greasy indulgence. But there’s nothing to be done. Nothing that is except to pour a glass of port, flare up a thick cigar and delve once more into the EDR List of Games That Were Better Than The Other Games Last Decade. What could be number two?

Well, of course it’s…

Super wild fun times!

THE SIMS!

Had to be here somewhere, surely, you thought – and blow me down if you weren’t spot on. Nice work, you.

Yes, The Sims – released nine years and eleven months ago into what was really a different climate for games and gamers. Games were looser, less defined. Games were also much more restricted – this was pre-Wii and, of course, pre-The Sims. As far as we knew, games were just for excitable schoolboys. The Sims demonstrated that actually, they were for your sister too. And maybe your Mum. Maybe even your girlfriend, if you had been blessed enough to encounter one of the mythical creatures.

It’s very easy these days to be snobbily dismissive of The Sims. It was massively successful, amongst people from all walks of life, not all of them angry teenage boys? Then fear the rage of the internet dweller! Tremble before the wrath of geeks! You know how it goes. As the years went by, The Sims was perverted by successive expansions into being something rather negative in gaming with a concrete stranglehold on the sales charts, but based on the original game standing alone (or the sequel, for that matter), the greatness of The Sims is obvious.

Because people are interesting. Even if you don’t really like people, watching them going about their business is fascinating. Add to that omnipresence and near limitless power to torment and you end up with one of the masterpieces of the form. We’ve all played The Sims, and we’ve all had a bit of a chuckle, at the very least. Some of us have spent days building massively exotic houses, and then making people wee on the floor in their kitchens.

The magic of The Sims was in creating unnaturally glamorous couples and then subjecting them to the most inhumane experiences possible, of course. But it was also in improving their lives, in guiding them to happiness. Or maybe it was in sowing as much infidelity and marital disharmony around computer suburbia as you could manufacture. Or more probably, it was in making Sims of your mates and getting them all to snog in their pants.

Emergent gameplay. That’s what it’s about. Maxis gave us a set of tools, a set of rules, and massive possibilities. It gave us potential for fun in all sorts of ways, and then let us decide which fun we wanted. Fun, enabled by Will Wright et al, but encountered and enjoyed on our terms. Which, most of the time, just involved people in their underwear getting frightened of ghosts. Or aliens.

Welcome to EDR’s Games of the Decade, The Sims.

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