the sims – and custom content

Recently, I picked up playing Sims 2 again.

It amazes me how, though the game in itself is fun, it is the custom content and the mod community that truly makes it worthwhile. The designers that worked on the game produced mismatched sets of furniture, dull skin tones and blank eyes – the mod community has given us new furniture, new skins and adorable, gleaming, glittering, wonderful eyes. The community is huge, I can’t even count the number of sites. My bookmark list is filled to the brim and overflowing with links to sites that I regularly check for updated content.

Every week, I, and my fellow addicts, search the web for the best, newest, neatest additions – everything from a new kind of lamp with a different type of light, to a pair of high heeled shoes where the game creators originally gave us only flats. I can’t even say for sure what my obsession with it is. I’m not even using half the stuff. It’s like shopping, except it doesn’t cost me any money, and I can’t actually wear, or use any of the stuff in real life. You get the shopping high with very few of the perks and none of the bad stuff – ‘cept the obsession.

Did I say it doesn’t cost anything?

That’s not entirely true, anymore. Re-joining the Sims community, I was shocked to find that some creators force you to ‘donate’ to their sites, in order to download their files. A new bedroom set might cost, say, $3 – though for copyright reasons, they claim it’s donation to keep their sites running… not actual pay. People are actually making money, making pretend clothes, furniture and hairstyles for pretend people. So now I need to pay for a new, pretty shirt for my Sim as well as that pair of shoes I want to buy downtown? What the hell?

So I said to myself, no way, I’m not doing that.

A week later, I found an awesome bedroom on a site somewhere, and I donated money to get it. I’m still ashamed. I can’t believe I actually paid for this pretend bedroom. Done is done, though, and knowing the shop-o-holic in me, I might well do it again.

What is it with these new games that involve you to such a level? MMORPGs where people buy weapons on ebay and then fight over their items – in real life! Sims 2, where you can go shopping online – for things that don’t really exist. Games, where you pay first for the actual game… then for the expansions… and then, like an idiot, you actually go ahead and pay other players for the niftiest, coolest stuff to use in your game.

One reason to why I always loved the Sims games was the open, wonderful community around them. I’m hoping that this new element of greed (that’s what this essentially is, isn’t it?) won’t eat away at that warmth.