It’s A Hard Knock Life (for Kev and Alice)

Now here’s something you really need to see.

A blog by Robin Burkinshaw relates the poignant ongoing tale of a homeless father and daughter trying to survive in a harsh world. But the harsh world in which they live is inside a computer, and the pair exist only in that virtual realm:

This is an experiment in playing a homeless family in The Sims 3. I created two Sims, moved them in to a place made to look like an abandoned park, removed all of their remaining money, and then attempted to help them survive without taking any job promotions or easy cash routes…

I have attempted to tell my experiences with the minimum of embellishment. Everything I describe in here is something that happened in the game. What’s more, a surprising amount of the interesting things in this story were generated by just letting go and watching the Sims’ free will and personality traits take over.

Apparently The Sims has evolved to a point in which the artificial intelligence and social dynamics systems are damned near organic. The Sims have dreams, goals, and emotions and their behavior is driven by those qualities, resulting in complex relationships and interpersonal drama.

This is Kev and his daughter Alice. They’re living on a couple of park benches, surviving on free meals from work and school, and the occasional bucket of ice cream from a neighbour’s fridge.

When you create a person in The Sims 3, you can give them personality traits that determine their behaviour. Kev is mean-spirited, quick to anger, and inappropriate. He also dislikes children, and he’s insane. He’s basically the worst Dad in the world…

His daughter Alice has a kind heart, but suffers from clumsiness and low self-esteem. With those traits, that Dad, and no money, she’s going to have a hard life.

Alice’s teddy is more than her only possession in the world. It’s the only thing that’s ever hugged her.

As her father dislikes children, he hates sleeping next to her. In the morning, he’s always the first to wake, and he immediately throws a tantrum and wakes up Alice to tell her to leave the room. Alice understandably responds that they’re not in a room, and she doesn’t have anywhere to go. Then they argue, and Kev seems to blame Alice for every possible thing.

Again, you really need to see this. It’s worth reading through the whole thing, and at the time I’m writing this, the lives of Kev and Alice continue in regular updates. You can even subscribe to get the latest entries through a RSS feed.

This is human drama boiled down to its essence, people acting on simple raw emotion emerging from their primal true selves. The result is a suprisingly sophisticated, insightful, topical, and oddly moving story about people a lot more real than any reality TV participants you’ll ever see.

It’s like a novel of the id. You’ll find it here.

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2 comments on “It’s A Hard Knock Life (for Kev and Alice)

  1. i wish i owned the sims…i feel like it is pretty expensive though

  2. michellecheong says:

    Wow..I’m really behind time..It’s an eye-opener what I just read above. I’m barely finding my way on the internet. Humans are such sophisticated creatures (except for me – I can barely blog and I get my pages mixed up and it’s really no excuse that I’ve just started).

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