Video game experiment and the homeless

18 06 2009

No. This is not a ethically dubious research project. WordPress blog of the day for a while has been Alice and Kev.

Robin Burkinshaw is a UK Games Design student who is chronicling the adventures of characters she has created in the world simulator The Sims. The hook is that Robin has made the characters homeless (their ‘home’ resembles a park, has a single ‘room’, and has no furniture or amenities).

Robin says she is avoiding controlling the characters as much as possible, and just letting them play out their actions. The stories are simply amazing, and its not that hard to see how games like this are quite addictive.

The characters are a somewhat twisted version of the duo from Curly Sue. Kev is a mean-spirited crank with absolutely no manners, while Alice is his stressed and naive girl with the traits of kindness and misfortune.

Read the introduction, and then start from the beginning. Mostly it’s photos, so it’s easy to go through. The avatars in The Sims are quite good at not being as soulless as other cartoon sprites.

If you don’t want to trawl through all the pages, my picks of the posts so far are:

Although if you don’t want to read the entire series after previewing those, you have no soul.

Obviously, The Sims does not quite replicate a real world scenario – I do not think the homeless can quite so easily gain access random strangers ice cream, bathtubs and couches – but it’s definitely engaging and raising awareness for an important issue.

I wonder what other issues and scenarios the seems could be used to raise awarenes for?




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