Sunday, August 28, 2011

"two guys who kissed each other – often"

SimCity and The Sims are games designed by a shy skinny guy named Will Wright. He worked on SimCity on spec while at Broderbund but that company couldn’t see a way to market it. Not until Wright formed a new software company, Maxis, with business partner Jeff Braun did SimCity get its chance. Gee, it was a huge success. In his book on the history of videogames Harold Goldberg describes the trouble huge success got more than one videogame company into at the end of the 90s when the tech bubble was in full expansion. “Maxis incurred pressure from investors to … earn big money. … [A]rrogant idiots were brought in as bosses. They knew nothing about games. …[B]ean counters forced Wright and his crew to release … generally unfinished, unpolished, sometimes untested games.” One of the bits of coding that slipped through was this instance of guerrilla gay activism:

While working on SimCopter, a programmer who was secretly annoyed that there were no gays in Maxis products surreptitiously added two guys who kissed each other – often. That did not sit well with Wright and Braun, who had made certain that Maxis did not discriminate and had health care benefits for gay partners. The employee was shown the door, but the damage was done. SimCopter had to be recalled, which hit the company’s stock hard, not to mention the harm it did to its reputation.

Goldberg does not make clear whether the blow to Maxis’ reputation had more to do with the poor quality of the game(s) or the gayness of the kissing. I’ve never played any of the Sim series. So I was curious about how they treat gay folks.

According to this post by Lyle Masaki at AfterElton, The Sims “was a breath of fresh air … The Sims' idea of love included same-sex romances. It was a welcoming touch of the real world.” As in the real world, Masaki says, gays could move in together but not marry. As of The Sims 3, however, “after a week of game time, I was able to get a male couple to plan a wedding party and tie the knot.”

And if you want to see some Sims-style gay canoodling, there’s a youtube video you can watch. (It’s kind of cute.)

source: All Your Base Are Belong To Us: how fifty years of videogames conquered pop culture by Harold Goldberg


Jim Murdoch said...

The Sims is the only computer game I’ve bought (actually my wife, knowing I wanted it, bought it) and got involved in. I’ve never had any interest in any game after Pac Man although I do play Snake these days to relax or Tetris too. But for a whole summer I got totally caught up in The Sims. One of my characters looked like Gillian Anderson – I got quite creative about designing my own people and sets – and I managed to hook her up with another female (one of the regulars). I have no idea why I found it so entertaining. I think it was simply to see if I could do it and once I had I kinda lost interest and spent most of my time constructing more and more elaborate environments. There were loads of sites with great props to download – like the orgasmatron from Woody Allen’s film Sleeper which never ceased to amuse me. At one point I had five Gillian Andersons wandering around. That got confusing. And, just for the record, I’m not that big a Gillian Anderson fan. I just found a photo of her that worked and didn’t really have any interest in doing more once I’d mastered that particular skill.

The new version looks interesting but I simply don’t have the time for something like that these days. I like games that last five minutes not five weeks.

Glenn Ingersoll said...

I find myself reading books on formative influences - videogames, Godzilla, disco.

I've gotten caught up in obsessive Tetris, Bejeweled, and Luxor playing. I'm trying not get sucked gameworld.

I tried some exploration/adventure games and had fun but of the four or five I've attempted I think I only played one to completion.

Art Durkee said...

People always seem to think I'm a gamer, but I never have been. It's never interested me. RPGs in particular I have no use for. I mean, fine if you want to. But it's not for me, and never has been.

When I was working more, as a graphic designer, I spent all day on the computer. The LAST thing I wanted to do when I got home was boot up that computer and play games. Can't think of a worse waste of time and energy.

Glenn Ingersoll said...

Oh. I'm sure there are WORSE wastes of time ...

I remember some kids in grade school who would use a big pink eraser to erase the skin on an arm (a section about as long if not as wide as a Band-Aid, if I remember right). I even tried it. Just to see what it felt like. It hurt. And I decided the kid who could keep erasing all the way down to blood had a much lower pain threshold than I. And a motivation I couldn't figure.