Saturday, February 02, 2008

SIMS-ULATION OF LIFE








Often, the nature of your week compels you to write about something. Just like in The Exorcist, “It is Christ who compels you!” In this case, it’s Phil of Playaz Ball and Cuff of Countersignature. “Cube. We compel you to write about virtual reality and whack job friends.”


Earlier in the week, I had been swapping emails with Phil about this and that, and we got on the topic of chat rooms past and the odd behaviors that can form with online relationships, and also those people who had tried for years to get me to join them in playing Second Life or World of Warcraft. I knew I’d be good. I had the chops, but why would I? I told one man obsessed with Warcraft, “I am not afraid of the game. I just don’t want to be a goth angel with purple powers,” or some such nonsense. Then last night, Cuff of Countersignature wrote of similar things as well as Dubai’s efforts to create a playground community called “Falcon City of Wonders”. I have been following Dubai’s evolution myself, and there was a wonderful article not that far back, in Vanity Fair magazine (June, 2006,) written by Nick Tosches, on the subject.

I commented on Cuff’s page last night, in typical lengthy Cube fashion; ( i.e. a chapter,) and realized, “After two discussions this week about this woman, it is finally time to write this story.” In a nutshell, this is what I told Cuff: ~~


""Well written, as ever. It's interesting you are tackling this subject, because I was talking to friends this past week about others I knew who had gotten heavily into Warcraft and SIMS and Second Life. They all wanted me to join them in their little alter worlds, telling me I'd be "great," but I've never had the slightest interest to veer off in that direction.

I'll tell you a funny story I told Phil of Playaz Ball...and no, Phil doesn't play those games. I knew a women who was part of our social set, yet in truth a very lonely little soul with not much of a social life. She discovered SIMS and went off the deep end; even to the point of cutting off her real life social ties and communications to come home from work at night and play this game.

Then things got very strange. She created this "house," in her SIMS world (she had multiple houses,) but this one was all of us...her real life friends, and she had us doing things we didn't do in real life (in terms of occupation). She more or less made the figures look like us, only more faboo, but same coloring, etc. But Cuff? Pause here. She got into controlling us. She would send out emails to our group (and trust me, we flipped) with captured screens of what was going on in her little world. She gave us fake pets, she had certain people engaging in sexual acts. One character hit a glitch and froze: she couldn't manipulate it, and rather than delete it out (as non-functioning), she feared losing the entire level of the game, she so left the jittering figure there, but constantly referring back to it, feeling thwarted by it. You still with me? It got worse. When we discovered this game of hers going on, and she stupidly spoke quite openly of it to our open-mouthed horror, I told her immediately I did not want a character created of me at all. She did it anyway. Then I insisted she have my character commit suicide. She refused to do that either because "I don't know what will happen." I persisted, and she finally killed "SIMS me" off.

Since I've never played the game, I don't know the command, but my character drowned in the group home swimming pool, while she had another character (a real life friend) sitting next to the pool watching me drown. He was so angered that she had his character just idly watching me die--as if he would ever do such a thing in real life. She also did odd things like have SIMS Paco dog peeing on his leg. As I said, it got very weird.

Here's the best part, if you haven't snorted cocoa out of your nose yet, it gets better. She killed me off, and SIMS created a little tombstone behind the group house. She didn't create it. It just popped up. That creeped her out too. But the best? A while later, she was playing her sick little game, and I reappeared: a blue ghost. And when she was relaying all of this to our group? And not knowing how mentally unstable she sounded? She expressed frustration at me because she couldn't control me as a ghost. I came and went at random and without player control. She hated my ghost.

I was talking to the leg pee guy last night about this; telling him I had told Phil, and we were wishing we had saved some of those screens from her emails, so I could show you Heather frozen in the back yard all jittering and not able to follow her commands, and me popping up out of my little R.I.P. marker and haunting people.

Cuff?

BOO!

HA ""


After I wrote this, Mr. Leg Pee himself signed on, and I asked his permission to talk to him in instant message as an interview, going back over the above, and having him add his thoughts. He readily agreed. We will call the dog lover “TM.”

Cube: TM. Welcome to Cube's blog. Glad to see you.
TM: : Thank you, Cube, for the invitation.
Cube: I had you read what Cuff wrote on his blog, and my response to it. Let's talk about this a little further.
TM: I'm good with that.
Cube: I distinctly remember Bunny pulling away from the group (her regular movie viewings, parties and social events) and her own early version of blogging, and she retreated talking from any of us, other than when she would appear online and talk solely about her SIMS worlds. Remember that?
TM: I certainly do. She became more distant from her real-life friends to become more involved with her SIMS characters. The only time she would return to the group was when she had news to tell us about her manipulations for our SIMS-selves
Cube: and she seemed to really relish the manipulation, didn't she?
TM: She did. It was as if she couldn't maintain any control over her real friends and resorted to SIMS for some god-like control. It became very disturbing.




Cube: How much do you remember (and I confess I remember very little, wanting to shut it out) about our SIMS careers? I know she had Heather walking dogs, I think Lau was a chef, and we had real life newlywed friends..and she put them in a bed with a big red heart headboard, where she would have them engaged in sex.
TM: I remember that we all had jobs of one sort or another...that we could get promoted in the household by holding particular jobs. One of our friends was a jewel thief, another may have been a band member. I recall that I worked as a housekeeper or some other domestic job. I also recall that in SIMS-world I was supposed to be romatically inclined to another friend and that I was supposed to have some opposition. That perturbed me since I was (and still am) contentedly married.
Cube: I think Drew was in the band. I may have been the jewel thief. In fact I was the thief.
I remember when Heather's character froze in the back yard, all jittery but non-moveable, she was so thwarted it drove her crazy. I told her repeatedly to just delete the character out, and she refused, because she feared losing the level she had achieved in the game. One thing she did, that was again...odd...was have SIMS pets, yet she owned no pets in real life, not ever to my knowledge. It started with "Snowball" the SIMS cat, and then she added a dog or two, but I noticed, very quickly, she would be fascinated with the actions of the cat or dog rather than SIMS us.
TM: She loved watching the antics of the pets. I believe at one time the dogs even enjoyed moments when they were in heat. She thrilled at that.
Cube: Laughing. You're right. I had forgotten that...or blocked it. The virgin watching SIMS sex. Shaking head.
TM: One thing about her SIMS world was that she could create a scale of like-ability to her characters which made the characters react to each other in different (and perhaps) in contentious ways. She knew that my household always has a cat or two or three and perhaps that's how I got the rating scale that I got which leads to how the dog was allowed to interact with my being peed on my leg many times. If she was thrilled at the doggy-sex she was GLEEFUL at the dog-peeing events.
Cube: I wrote on Cuff's blog how she had the dog pee on your leg, but you are right. It was multiple times, and she reported as you accurately said, "with glee," every time you got soiled. And yet, of all of our real life social group, you are the only pet owner with multiple pets and very understanding of the animals’ needs. And what was so bizarre? She never seemed to grasp how any of this sounded in the reporting.


Cube: I do remember discussing my SIMS career with her, and I chose "jewel thief," which she fought me on. It didn't fit into her master plan. "Maybe" I would get arrested. How could she control me from SIMS jail? I could only take a week or two of even existing on a SIMS playing field when I started demanding my SIMS self be killed off. I've never played the game, but I don't get the sense she could control "how" I died, only that I did. A delete key?
Cube: I do remember I drowned in the backyard swimming pool of our SIMS house, while you sat in a chair watching me go under. Do you remember that?
TM: The rest of our group was all left scratching our heads at the SIMS' news. When we wanted 'out' she would deny us that saying she was having too much fun with us. When we mocked her characters by inventing new options or career moves she would shut us out. I felt insulted that she would have me watch helplessly or uncaringly as you drowned in the swimming pool.
Cube: That's true. Once I had bolted she wasn't letting go of any of the rest of you. She would keep coming to the group with her latest SIMS installment, including captured photos of the screen to show us what we were doing, and if we poked fun or asked for anything else, she became quite indignant and would stop talking to real us.
TM: She didn't need us when she had SIMS-us.
Cube: Well, honey. I know you would never let me drown. But you have to admit, she had us doing all sorts of out of character things that suited her twisted needs. I remember when I died, a little gray tombstone finally appeared in the background, again...she didn't create it, it popped up a few days later..and she could never stand those uncontrolled events. But the best came when after weeks, I appeared out of a wall, or the pool, as a blue vapor ghost.
TM: True. She manipulated people to be doing things that were not normal behavior.





Cube: She could never control Cube as ghost, never say where I went, or when I showed up, and it drove her nuts. She hated me as a ghost, and she couldn't delete me because I was dead.
Cube: Any final thoughts on people who play these games?
TM: She didn't like it that the SIMS program had ideas of its own. She thought she was in control at all times. So when the Heather character froze on her and she couldn't do anything about it, it drove her nuts! Once you were dead, Cube, she lost control of you. You would pop up at different times where you were least expected. She eventually became comfortable with the idea of Cube-ghost and was amused at your showings.
Cube: One thing I want to go back to...and if I'm wrong correct me... In real life you are married, and we all know your wonderful wife...as she did...yet...and am I wrong in this? You didn't have a wife in her SIMS world?
TM: That is correct. She did not include my wife in her world. Again, she had me in situations that were quite uncomfortable because they included other friends who are dear to me. (I would add here: she had him having sex with all of our friends, then she would turn around and send out SIMS pictures of him doing it.)
Cube: And even though, in real life, you exist in a professional career capacity, she had you doing domestic work or something, didn't she? Groundskeeper or something?
TM: Yes. I believe I was a housekeeper. The only way that any of our characters could change was by earning points or something and getting promoted to a new career.
Cube: ...and you were busy clipping hedges and getting peed on so no points for YOU.




TM: AT one point I DO believe that I had a new job but I don't remember what that was.
Cube: She never focused on our careers and advancing us as much as she wanted to see people have sex or get great new outfits. It was like perverse Barbie. I remember her SIMS figure looked NOTHING like the reality her. What cons call a "tell."
TM: Yes, and when she included a new house of other friends she knew into the world it became even stranger
.
Cube: I guess in summation, and you can agree or disagree, we saw her pull away from her real life, decline invitations out, always citing she wanted to be with her SIMS people.
TM: Her beach friends.
Cube: Yes. I forgot. She created an entire city of gay people. Gay men. With her the controlling Queen. I don't even want to think about what was going on in that SIMS structure.
TM: She would be online and communicate with us but it became rare. Only to tell us of the newer antics through e-mail announcements.
Cube: I remember her telling me how much more fabulous "the boys" house was than our house; and I thought "but of course." TM? Thank you for the little walk down our twisted memory lane. Any final thoughts?
TM: Thank YOU, Cube. I'd like to say that I know many friends that game online and who have other items to "chew" on but I have never seen them withdraw into their own worlds and abandon their real friends and outside interests as she did. It was quite sad to see the withdrawal and downward slide.
Cube: Well. She's made new friends now over at Fly Ladies.

As an addendum, I should state that she did, indeed, remain withdrawn from her circle of existing friends, but in an effort to control her inner slob, she had joined an online group called The Fly Ladies. The entire purpose of this site is to keep people (mainly women) focused on keeping their domicile clean, and since she was a slob, she thought if she was told what to do in timed events and blasts of by the minute email, covering specific parts of her home, she would get it done.

She grew more and more heavily invested in this world and started going into Fly chat rooms where, if I understood her correctly, they would talk for 15 minutes, then for the next half hour go clean some specific thing, then come back and talk about what they had just cleaned. Ultimately, she joined their ranks and became a host for these chat rooms. It seemed to fit her needs of enforced cleanliness and control, and I have to admit we’ve joked over time about her barking out orders to women to go scrub their kitchen sinks, or go unclog the toilet or wipe down all glass surfaces.



SCHNELL!



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13 Comments:

Blogger Phil said...

Life imitating art?

4:48 PM  
Blogger I-66 said...

Speechless, Cube. Speechless.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Phil: OMG!!! I am laughing hysterically. I swear I had forgotten that. Please write back and explain to my readers what your photograph is. I can't stop laughing. Tears.

66: I know. When they say "truth is stranger than fiction," you never have to convince me of that adage.

5:09 PM  
Blogger JordanBaker said...

While this lady is clearly several trees short of a forest, I will admit to having made SIMS of ex-boyfriends, and then drowned them in the pool, set them on fire, or starved them. It's therapeutic.

And I'm trying to figure out what's causing your access problems--maybe an image or something, but I can't think what.

5:33 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Jordan: Phil admitted to me that he would do perverse things like that, as well...building houses with no toilets..just to see what would happen. As you wrote, she is definitely in her own wind-blown, knotted branched forest.

5:38 PM  
Blogger Loralee said...

I'm not sure where to begin (although I did check my mail for photos which might have been saved). I remember thinking it was cute at first, but when it became an all-consuming passion, not as pretty. And as has been stated,
kind of odd to control (or get frustrated with the lack thereof) your friends to that level of detail.

Lee

8:17 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

This was from two Playaz Ball's ago, and had come at the tail end of the weekend after we had purchased a mountain of cocaine, inducted Conway Twitty into our Hall of Fame, and had Kenny Rogers perform an all night rave following the ceremony.

I can't recall if I had passed out in the pool after a 36 hour cocaine/bourbon/krispy kreme binge, or if perhaps we had turned the pool into one giant "Jamaican Me Crazy" drink and I had attempted to swim/drink the enormous concoction.

2:20 PM  
Blogger Hammer said...

"building houses with no toilets..just to see what would happen."

I swear, I think that half of my blogroll would fire up a game of Sims to do just that. Personally, I take it as a sign I'm linking to the right people.

My best friend back home and his wife got sucked into WOW big time. BIG TIME. A couple months or so ago, he had an epiphany and now only rarely plays. The wife, however, is as full-bore as ever. Witnessing the psychological and physical costs of this first-hand has been a sad bit of reality TV for me. She's very defensive about it, and no one - not even family or close friends - seems to be able to get through to her.

Did you happen to see the recent articles about internet addiction boot camps in Korea? America can't be far behind.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Phil: Either seem feasible, when I hear it's "The Playaz" involved.

Hammer: I don't know what WOW is, but I will Google it, just to understand. It was the same with this woman. She had a social group. Early on, pre-blogging, she had an online journal, she would see and review movies three times a week. People would try to steer her back into doing social things, being engaged with others, and when she was with others, all she could talk about was this SIMS world. She wouldn't even speak to you unless she was holding forth on SIMS. People couldn't bear being around it.

It was a little more complex than the usual SIMS player though. She created not only an alternate universe, but had her real life friends in it, and if you listened to her, it was very obvious she got off on controlling us this way, and that she had many perverse scenarios playing out that wouldn't exist in real life...and those were just the things she confessed to us. As I reported, I was the first of an extended social group to balk, pick a twisted career, then demand to be killed off. After I had effectively departed, and she couldn't control my ghost, she wouldn't let the others loose..and that got very weird too. About a year ago, she told me in email that she had killed that house off...she had other houses and new friends (this Fly Lady group), but by then, it hardly mattered. None of us were her friend anymore.

4:46 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

This is a horrific, psychotic story.

And I don't mean the storyteller is psychotic.....makes me shiver just to think about the sims player.

1:19 AM  
Blogger Hammer said...

WoW is shorthand for World of Warcraft - it's what the players refer to it as. I've never played, but I picked up a lot of the lingo from friends anyway. And if nothing else, WoW did give us minor pop culture hero Leeroy Jenkins.

This girl though. Sheesh. Did she incorporate members of her real-life family into her SIMS play too?

11:50 PM  
Blogger cuff said...

Creepy, Cube, creepy. The longer version of the story is even creepier. I love how she seemed to delight in creating SIMS that were almost opposite their real-life counterparts. The idea that she would create a SIM of a married professional as a slutty housekeeper is twisted.

Now I can see a SIM player creating him/her self as something opposite his/her real life: e.g. accountant by day, rockstar by night, sad tv dinner loner by day, hot chick/stud magnet by night, etc. -- but doing it to people you know is very manipulative and reveals some serious issues.

3:48 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

See what you unleashed, Cuff? My friends have read this post and yours. They concur in the memory of it. Some have commented here. It went beyond weird into some whole other dysfunctional realm.

3:50 PM  

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