Electronic Arts. The Sims 3 (video game). $29.99. DVD-ROM (PC). ASIN: B00166N6SA
Plot: A character-based game, The Sims is a simulation of real life in which characters need certain activities in order to survive and thrive. Players create the characters, families, friends, and situations. Each character requires taking care of – a child character may need food while the father may require sleep. The dog might want to go to the bathroom. Another character may require social interaction. The goal of the game is to balance the needs of the people and not allow any of them slip into exhaustion, hunger, or loneliness. As the game gets more complex, the people can strive for higher levels of satisfaction. Two characters may not get along, so the player would need to extricate one from the pairing before a big argument gets out of hand and loses the player points. Each version of this game has gotten more complex, giving the player the ability to create more elaborate and far-reaching settings and to put limitations on the characters to make things more challenging for the players.
Critical Evaluation: The Sims 3 game introduces character wishes and goals and offers up smaller goals so that the game is not just a large hodgepodge. This creates some focus to the game play. Creative players can modify the game in very interesting ways, customizing it to create very specific situations. The School Library Journal describes a version of the game that players have called “Nickel and Dimed,” modifying it to replicate the adversity of the people in Barbara Ehrenreich’s book. The Sims can also be used to understand characterization. It mirrors life in a way, by showing that there must be balance and that basic needs must be met before a character can pursue higher needs, echoing some of Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” (a psychology teacher could use this as a great example of what Maslow describes). The game is fun and engaging, but it also offers some of the elements of fiction, like setting and characterization. A creative teacher could find many engaging ways to use it to illustrate his or her teaching.
Reader’s Annotation: You create your own humans, but then you have to take care of them. Soon enough, you discover that people are a lot of work.
Author: Maxis, then The Sims Studio
Genre: Video game.
Curriculum Ties: History, English, Psychology, Health
Reading Level/Interest Age: 14 and up
Challenge Issues: N/A
Why Included: This is a fun game that also provides challenges that exercise mental muscles and stir the imagination. It was recommended in School Library Journal.