What I learned from The Sims: lessons from the virtual world

“A symbol always transcends the one who makes use of it and makes him say in reality more than he
is aware of expressing.”
–Albert Camus

“Evil, in this system of ethics, is that which tears apart, shuts out the other person, raises
barriers, sets people against each other.”
–Rollo May

When I was young I played a lot of video games.  I was good at them, and I ended up learning more about computers from 15 years of playing games than I did in four years at college and 3 years of graduate study.  Certainly Nintendo and the old Sierra games for PC like “King’s Quest” offer different lessons than courses in Artificial Intelligence, but if a young gamer pays attention to what he is doing, there’s a lot to be learned from games. I quit playing video games when I went off to university at age 18 — as much as I liked them, it seemed like I should probably spend more time in the real world, studying, playing football, and hanging out with real people doing real things rather than crushing people in Madden football or achieving global domination in Sid Meier’s Civilization.  16 years later, with the exception of a few Wii games and a bit of online poker, I haven’t really felt the impulse to come out of video game retirement.

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Learning to extend metaphor: taking the red pill

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.

In a recent post, I wrote about how attempting to write changes the way you view works of art.  As I continue toiling away, creating artificial worlds in which my characters come to life and try to deal with the situations in which I place them, I find myself thinking more and more about the choices that writers make in the creation of their own artificial worlds.

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