I’ve been playing a lot of the Sims 3 lately. Since Patch 5.4 recently hit World of Warcraft you’d think I’d be spending every night in Azeroth attempting to put together a flex team to bring Garrosh down. But since Syndrome’s computer broke just days before the patch…well, there was no way I was going to experience the Timeless Isle and the final raid without him. Hence, my current Sims obsession. While it’s a game that I really love due to its interactivity and epic storytelling tools, there are times where I find myself sighing with disappointment. I had one such moment when I realized my teen couple couldn’t WooHoo or, if I wanted, get pregnant. And to me, this seemed like a cowardly cop out.
I know what you and EA will say to this: But, we don’t want to condone teenage pregnancy! A high demographic of Sims players are young people, particularly girls. If we put TEENAGE PREGNANCY in the GAME obviously that will mean we support such actions!
That’s like saying every game that features violence as its core mechanic condones murder. That’s like saying the Thieves Guild in the Elder Scrolls promotes thievery and generally frowned upon activities.
And come on. Don’t give me that bullshit about not wanting to support teens having sex. What century are we living in? The fact is teens who want to have sex are going to. End of story. It doesn’t matter if you tell them not to, it doesn’t matter if you say it will ruin their life, they are going to do it. It’s asinine to think otherwise. Teens are at a time in their life where their bodies are ready to go. Hormones are raging, they’ve completed puberty, and their bodies are designed to be making babies. Just because society frowns upon teens having babies doesn’t mean that biologically they shouldn’t. Plus, as we all know, as soon as you tell a teenager they absolutely cannot under any circumstances do a certain thing they will do it just to spite you. And that’s when things get dangerous.
Before we continue let me make something clear: I do not in any way support teenage pregnancy. Our world is not built for it. While it may have been viable a few hundred years ago when lives were shorter and times were tougher, that is not true of today’s world. Getting pregnant as a teen is a surefire way to make life exceptionally difficult for you.
But that’s exactly why I feel it should be part of the Sims. Games can be more, as I keep saying, than just silly past times. They have the ability to teach in ways other mediums can’t. You know how in some high schools there’s a class in which you have to spend a week “caring” for a fake baby? The whole point of which is to show how difficult having a baby is in order to hopefully discourage people from having them at young ages? A game like the Sims has the perfect opportunity to teach in the same capacity. The game shouldn’t glorify teenage pregnancies–that would defeat the entire purpose. But the game should make it exceptionally difficult to raise a child while going to high school. I’m talking so hard that if you’re not dedicated to it you’ll probably restart from your last save. There should be long term ramifications for what happens.
I understand that the Sims likes to be a silly game. And that’s great about it, but it could be so much more powerful if there were times when it took itself a bit more seriously. I have faith that they can balance the humor and goofiness of their world with moving, emotional moments as well.
Avoiding the subject of sex with teens is never a good idea. By pretending that it doesn’t happen and not educating teens you set them up for failure. But we can use games like the Sims to help them.
Sex is not mature content. It should never be mature content. Sex and nudity are both very natural, very healthy parts of life. To say that we can’t have teen pregnancy in video games while simultaneously packing games, television shows and movies full of excessive gore and violence is to me one of the most absurd aspects of our culture and media. Instead of teaching people that violence is the only answer and something that makes them “badass” and “hardcore”, why aren’t we teaching them how to cope with difficult situations in life? Why aren’t we teaching them how to be responsible individuals who take accountability for their own lives? And why aren’t we showing them that when terrible things do happen, with hard work, sacrifice, and strong will, they can make it through?
It’s sad and pathetic to me that one of the few good story-telling games out there refuses to allow for powerful, important stories to be told. Putting homosexual relationships in the game was a big move in the right direction, but there needs to be more of that.
Teen pregnancy will never be a part of the Sims because our society fails to approach it in the right light. And while I can’t blame the devs entirely for this (can you imagine the outcry from parents if they found out their children could make teens have babies? Because obviously violence is okay but damn, we gotta draw the line at that sex stuff…) it still makes me slightly resentful towards them. Take a risk, guys! Show the world the powerful storytelling and teaching medium that games can be! And when the outcry comes, have the balls to stand up to the legion of foam mouthed parents who are out for your blood for “corrupting” their children. Maybe then a very important dialogue can begin in this country. Perhaps then we can put out in the open how absurd it is that we tolerate violence more easily than we tolerate sex.
Usually I say that for games to change the community needs to first. But this is a rare occasion where change within a game could spark a much needed change within our society as a whole.