Media Viruses and My Addiction to Sims Social.
October 26, 2011
If anyone who reads this is on friends with me on Facebook, I apologize. I’ve been bitten by the Sims Social bug, and I don’t have any plans to stop anytime soon. I went through the trouble of learning the new Facebook interface enough to create a group just for my Sims updates, but every once in a while, they slip through. So for that I apologize.
I ask myself how in the world I would get so drawn into something like that. I played Farmville once, but it was a short lived affair. I ignore all the other game requests. I don’t have time to play these games, and yet somehow Sims has become something that invades my psyche when I’m sitting alone and bored, and anytime I’m on Facebook.
In Media Virus, Douglas Rushkoff argues about the viral nature of the media object: rather than being a metaphor, media events are viruses. He argues:
“We live in an age when the value of data, images, and ideologies has surpassed that of material acquisitions and physical territory…the only place left for our civilization to expand – our only real frontier – is the ether itself: the media (4).”
Once, many eons ago, I used to play the “real” Sims on a PC. I would recreate my own world with all of my childhood friends in their own houses. I made hypothetical children with my hypothetical husband. I went shopping with my hypothetical girlfriends. I took care of my hypothetical pets after getting home from my hypothetical job. When in a particularly bad mood, or just feeling silly, I hypothetically killed my Sims off in horrendous ways, like drowning in a pool with no ladder, or catching the kitchen on fire.
I say these with a sense of macabre humor because I know I’m not the only one that did these things. But eventually, the majority of us grew out of it. We went onto more productive things like Myspace, and then Facebook, and now Google Plus. If you were a gamer, you leveled up to more violent endeavors like Street Fighter and Halo (of course, speaking from experience).
So why are so many of us guilty of jumping so readily into Sims Social? It is, in Rushkoff’s own words, the Trojan horse (7). We adopt it quickly because of it’s familiarity, it is a gameplay that we understand well, both from pervious experience with the brand, and it’s reflection of our own lives. Once we are inside, we see the symbols of commercialism: how they entice you to buy points, the quests that keep you more and more, and those nagging reminders that you have not paid enough attention to Friend A, who in this instance is played by the actual Friend A.
Sims Social plays on our desire for more human interaction on the web. The datasphere according to Rushkoff is “the new territory for human interaction, economic expansion, and especially social and political machination” (4).
Human interaction. Check. Economic expansion, you bet (my currency may be low, but my house value is great!). Social and political machination? You bet (Sorry friend J. I constantly put spiders in your toilet.)
Now back to me gaining skills on my Haunted Typing Machine-Thing.