Sims and Narrative

I admit, I was surprised to find mention of The Sims in Avatars of Story. As a constant player myself, I’d found a very large difference between playing The Sims and playing just about every other game out there. Rarely does one come across a game that has no objective, no point to it. The reason people play The Sims is to manage these little people and do whatever they feel like doing. Some players kill their sims mercilessly in terrible fires. Others, grow them, breed them, and eventually the sims die.

How does a game like this have a narrative structure? Sure, the sims themselves have ‘memories,’ which add some emotions to the game, but in all of my time playing the game, I’ve never found these to actually affect my gameplay. There’s nothing too ‘bad’ that could happen, or nothing too ‘good’ either.

And that got me thinking. What is narrative, really? How does a game like The Sims have narrative itself? Does the narrative correspond completely to the player of the game, or does it have to do with the limited choices the game creators gave to every object in the little world? Is playing The Sims just playing a more elaborate form of a Choose Your Own Adventure?

Just a few thoughts as I did the reading and then immersed myself into my own little Sims family for a few hours. I’d love to hear what other people think.

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