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Posts tagged ‘Peter Stearns’

Sexy Simoleans

The first Sims game released in 2010

Growing up, I enjoyed playing video games that made me feel like I was watching a movie. That is, I appreciated games with a specific plot that allowed me to participate. The Sims is an interactive computer and video game that basically allows players to simulate daily activities of people in a suburban household. It was developed by Maxis for Windows in 2000 and cost about $60. The game has since been released on MAC, PlayStation, Xbox and GameCube.

To summarize the game is relatively simple. Players, first, get to design each member of the family. You choose their name, skin color, clothes, face, ect. You then spend time in “build mode” designing every detail of the home from size to wallpaper to windows. Once the structure is complete, the player enters “buy mode” and spends money purchasing furniture for the home. Finally, you can enter “live mode” where you essentially become the Sim. You control everything your character does including going to work, going to the bathroom, eating, and interacting with others. The characters also work on building skills such as reading and creativity as well as making sure their needs are met such as satiety and sleep. As the player, it is also your duty to maintain your finances and take care of children if you choose to have them. Many people would say that this sounds like a game that could teach children life skills but there has been some controversy involved with this game over the years. When the game was first released, it was not well censored.

Sims Trailer

When players develop relationships with each other, it is possible for that connection to progress into a sexual one. In the current version, when this occurs, the act is blurred out so nothing can be seen, However, in the original version, this censorship did not exist. There was also a recent “bug” that caused this suppression to fail. The culprit was likely one of the people who have been asking Google, “How do I take the censor off?” Apparently, there is a “Nude Patch” that players can download to be able to permit their Sims to bear it all (for whatever reason). Needless to say, this is the sort of loss of innocence in the common child is exactly what Stearns describes when he says, “…parents worried deeply, if not always effectively, about their degree of control over the entertainment their children received, and about the appropriateness of the entertainment offered.” (Course Packet p. 6)

“Players can allow public nudity, fondling of partners’ buttocks while kissing (both of the same and opposite sex), characters burning to death, and even polygamy (a male can marry numerous females, but a female can marry only one man). Could this game be teaching sexism?”

Appropriateness aside, The Sims continues to maintain popularity from girls and boys of all ages. The have since released multiple Sims continuation games including House Party, Unleashed, Hot Date, Vacation, and Superstar. The franchise has sold more than 100 million copies and I’m not ashamed to admit I am the face of 3 of those!

Vulnerability of Children

In an article entitled “A Touch During Recess, and Reaction is Swift” (Scott James, The New York Times) (and also in the YouTube video), the author covers the case of a first grader, only six years old, who was suspended for alleged sexual assault. What really happened is unsure because there were no witnesses besides the two boys involved. However, during a game of tag, the first grader was accused of touching the upper thigh area of another boy. The West Contra Costa Unified School District spokesperson was not allowed to speak about the actual event, but did state that any type of assault is taken very seriously. Many believe this to be due to bullying and recent rises in suicides.

This article can be connected to the debate of how vulnerable or innocent children really are, which is a concept that Peter Stearns addresses in his “Intro” and “Bored” (pgs. 3 and 173) chapters that we read. While Stearns explains the increasing popular support behind the idea of the vulnerable child, particularly in connection with the media, the idea that children are innocent is apparent in this article. This is shown through the statements made by the mother of the accused child, who says that tag is just a game and her son had no evil intentions. Further backing for the idea of innocence in this article is that many people were shocked when “such adult criminal intent was applied to a matter involving young children.” According to the article, in the state of California, matters of sexual intent can only be applied to students in the fourth grade or older. This implies that children up to the age of 9 or 10 are innocent when it comes to sexual matters. Because of this law, the first grade boy was able to get his school records cleared.

I agree that kids are inherently innocent. As one of my classmates mentioned when we discussed this idea, she knows (as do I) kids who can sing along to rap songs with suggestive or violent lyrics, but have no idea what they are talking about. I, myself, used to do this as well, despite the fact that my parents refused to buy me certain cd’s (The Spice Girls). Most people might not entertain the same theories of childhood innocence that I do, instead choosing to believe that children are vulnerable to what they see on television and in movies. I think that there comes a time in every child’s life when he or she begins to understand. I think it’s different for each child, as well as different for each touchy subject. For example, one child might understand violence before they understand sexual matters. I suppose that the real issue here is WHEN children become vulnerable or impressionable, and how adults can really tell when this change occurs.