Vicarious enjoyment (or torture)

Young girls and women of all ages are a prime audience for The Sims, the virtual-life simulation series that is the most popular computer game of all time.

October 15, 2006 12:35
3 minute read.
sims disk 88

sims disk 88. (photo credit: )


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The Sims 2: Open for Business expansion disk; The Sims 2 Family Fun Stuff expansion disk, both produced by Maxis for Electronic Arts (EA), one CD-ROM each in English, distributed by Hed Artzi Multimedia, requires original The Sims 2 program (four CDs), for ages 12 and above, NIS 149 each. Ratings: **** for Open for Business and * for Family Fun Stuff Young girls and women of all ages are a prime audience for The Sims, the virtual-life simulation series that is the most popular computer game of all time. Nevertheless, many males of all ages - who comprise the vast majority of gamers - will also fall for The Sims 2 and its expansion sets, that is, only if they have a hands-on personality with plenty of patience and the drive to control everyone and everything. With a husband, kids, pets, a more-than-full-time job and not much free time, I myself can't stand this micromanagement genre, but I can understand how others don't find it tedious and are attracted to living vicariously inside virtual people's skins. Capitalizing on the unprecedented popularity of the original disk introduced nearly a decade ago and its Sims 2 successor, Maxis and EA have issued a wide variety of expansion sets that are installed on top of the original program and each costs about two-thirds the price of the original. They include University, Pets, Glamor Life Stuff, Making Magic, Livin' Large, Vacation, Superstar, Nightlife, Hot Date, Space Station and House Party. One can expect the developers to cover nearly every aspect of life in this unending series, except perhaps The Sims: Funeral Parlor. Although the game engine has begun to show its age, nevertheless the graphic detail remains impressive and offers the details you've come to expect from The Sims. Homes have glass walls that let you see inside and click on decision options. In the Open for Business expansion disk, you can create a company, train workers, promote them or dismiss them and do everything you need to make it profitable. Some 130 new items, including phones, workbench, signs, cash registers, computers, display cases and even a robot (recharged with solar energy) are included. But beyond the paraphernalia, this expansion set adds a whole new occupation to fans, whose sims used to disappear after breakfast and return before dinner. Now they can have serious workplaces for spending their days. If you get tired of one career, you can easily dump it and establish another, which is a good learning experience for real life. But be forewarned that you have to devote many hours to their work hours (almost as many as you are expected to invest in your own), so don't even attempt the program unless you have time for it, as it will not operate on automatic pilot. Try not to overspend yourself, and keep an eye on the "simoleon" currency in your bank account. Starting from scratch, you have the freedom to choose your working hours and vacation days, ways of attracting customers, honing your marketing skills and keeping good employees. Newcomers probably would have wanted a tutorial, as the user's manual is thin indeed; they should begin by launching a home business before finding expensive premises outside, but with a home business, customers will make themselves comfortable on your living room sofa. Strangely, running a home business is kept completely separate from a business career path outside, and you can't do both simultaneously. If you have a factory, restaurant, gym, beauty salon, florist shop or other business, you must be there, as it opens when you arrive and shuts down when you lock the door. But Family Fun Stuff, which costs the same as Open for Business, is a real disappointment and cannot legitimately be called an "expansion set." It merely serves as a collection of hairstyles, clothes, knick-knacks, wallpaper designs, carpets and theme-type furniture. This is perfect for people who spend all their time amassing goods for the sake of collecting and decorating but not really for putting them to good use. What really can you do with a kid's bed that looks like it belongs underwater or a replica of a cruise ship, which are among the 60 items available on the disk?

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