Meeting My Daughter For The First Time (In The Sims)

"I'm not sure if I want to have children.

"Maybe we won't have enough money for a new house, or that extension you were talking about. What if I want a TV?

"Didn't you want to buy all that furniture?"

My wife and I are playing The SimsThe Sims 2 to be precise. Technically I'm not playing, I'm just watching, but my wife is playing. I'm bored and I've come to bother her.

My features don't really gel with character creators. It's almost impossible to make a video game character look like me. I have big features, but not too big. My eyes are a bit googly; my mouth has a strange shape. My hair is kind of ginger, but also a bit blonde. Actually, it kinda looks brown some days. I always end up looking far more handsome in video games than I do in real life, like a car crash version of Robert Redford (note: I don't look like Robert Redford. I look more like Simon Pegg.)

Recreating my wife is incredibly easy. She's conventionally pretty. Children smile at her in supermarkets. My wife looks like an exotic Disney princess. She has the kind of features the human race has spent centuries trying to stylise.

But no one has ever really given a shit about stylising Simon Pegg.

Some people play The Sims 2 in strange ways. They concoct Fritzel-esque suburban dungeons and watch people dissolve into madness; I don't play at all, but my wife does, and she plays quite conventionally. She creates herself, she tries her level best to create me, and then we live out our lives in perfect digital bliss. Conventionally.

We build a house. We live together. We fall in love. We have children. We grow old. We die.

"But I want to see what they look like!"

Some people want to see what our babies will look like, not just my wife. To be honest, I'm a little curious myself. My wife is South American, dark-haired, pretty. I'm pale, white, overwhelmingly Scottish. God knows what ungodly manifestation will come of that. It could be a beautiful thing. It could be truly horrific. It seems a little cruel to have children just for that reason, but then I wonder — why do people have children?

"Alright let's do it," I say, as if my decision means anything in the scheme of things. My wife gets to the 'woo hoo', I chuckle for a second and then leave, watch TV, eat chocolate. I come back a few hours later.

I notice 'it' immediately. A toddler, rapidly torpedoing around our comically massive house (my wife uses the money cheat). Clearly the kid has had too much red cordial. It's a she — her name is Ayane. Ayane Serrels.

Hello Ayane, nice to meet you.

Thankfully, Ayane looks like her mother. She has a shock of short, jet black hair and the tiniest button nose. Her eyes are blue, like mine, but sharper. She smiles a lot.

So strange that Ayane feels like she belongs to me — a character, in a game I'm not playing, a scattered collection of baseless information — a jigsaw puzzle put together with pieces I had no part in creating. A clumsy representation based on a random collation of... what? Something that is recognisable as a stylised version of my wife and a pale broken down Robert Redford?

Still, I wish I could hug this little thing. And I don't usually do hugs.

What does it feel like to have children? I might never know. When I watch parents lumbering their children around all I see is the rings around their eyes, a comprehensive list of the things they'll no longer be able to do and the money it costs.

The loss of intimacy. The loss of time. The loss of freedom. What is there to gain?

Little Ayane. You're so tiny.

My friend told me that it's almost too easy to list the reasons why you shouldn't have children, but it's almost impossible to describe the overwhelming reasons why you should. It's something that can't really be described. It can only be experienced.

Why do people have children? I don't know, but maybe I want to find out. In The Sims it’s so easy, to watch this life I might never have played out — the life I’m not sure I even want.

I'm not sure if I want to have children.

What if I want to buy a new television? What if I want to travel or buy a house by the ocean?

What about all that furniture my wife wants to buy?

What about the rings around our eyes? What about the comprehensive list of things we can no longer do? Is it easier to simply replay that life, over and over in digital form?

But I want to see what you look like, little Ayane. For real. I hope you look like your mother. You'll be so cute, with your little button nose, and your shock of black hair. Will you have blue eyes or brown?

What kind of person will you be?

Little Ayane — I can't wait to meet you.

The was written for Critical Distance's 'Blogs of the Round Table', a collection of blogs written around a single topic. Head here to read more!


Comments

    Great article.

    PS: Your friend is right. On paper, having children seems like a crazy idea. But the actual reality of the experience goes to show that there are still some things capable of transcending the written word and rational thought.

    Out of interest, is it on the cards in the nearish future, Mark, or still undecided, or...?

    what did i just read :L oh well interesting article

    If you have a daughter called Ayane, you must die her hair purple and raise her as a ninja.

      My son will be called Naruto.

        Just be careful of anyone he meets named Sasuke, it could lead to a future of semi homo erotic co dependance.

          LOL, i dont watch Naturo, still funny!

          It'd be just like being a regular commenter on Kotaku!

        Just as long as you don't name him Itachi.

    Mark, you're not so much Simon Pegg these days. More CGI TinTin, I think.

    Beautiful read. Can't express how well it touched me on a personal level.

    p.s. it's okay to admit you play the Sims

    Great read, Simon.. I mean Robert... I mean Simon.

    I tried to float the name Billiam and as a result, Carly and I are not having children. Seriously, how cool is that name though?

    "How are you today, Bill?"

    "Great, I feel like a Billiam dollars.

    DID YOU GET IT???!!!

    I really enjoy stories about how games affect people emotionally.

    My girlfriend and I are having discussions on the topic of children at the moment. It's an intimidating prospect and makes me nervous as hell.

    This article made me broody.

    Great stuff, really well written.

    Off topic, but I hate character creators. I can never get myself right due to the hair options. I've never seen one that has proper male pattern baldness, its always female pattern which is bewildering given which of the two is (far more) common.

    Now I always just make myself look like that guy in "Empire of the Sun". Yeah, they always have plenty of purple tribal face tattoo options. Bastards.

      I'm in the same boat. I have a lot of curly hair, the closest I usually get is a comically oversized afro.

        I found your hair to be frickin' awesome.

          haha thanks, Serrels.

          I have also been forced to make do with a brown halo by character creators as it was the closest option to my hair.

          I have no place on the slider. :(

            I too love Lobo's hair - If I were him I'd play guitar. I'm sure the hair = the real skill anyways.

    Serrels, is this you?

    http://vimeo.com/19209502

      AHAHAHAHAHA!

      Yeah -- how did you find that?!

      Also -- this was edited and shot by Ben White, my bro in-law and the guy behind all of our redesigns.

        Oh man, I found this on Friday night while a few of us talked (on TeamSpeak) about some kind of Serrels love pillow (not my idea!).

          Loops made an awesome photoshop like that right when I first started at Kotaku!

        Just googled Mark Serrels and up it came! :)

    Oh Serrells.

    You know it's okay to admit you play the Sims? It's a video game too ;)

    And you're a giant softie. This was really touching to read.

    I once played a game (sadly, I forget what game) with a character creator, and it had a Randomise Appearance button. I clicked it a few times, laughing at the results, and then it spawned an avatar that looked exactly like me, as if I was looking at my video-game doppelganger. I did what any reasonable person would have; screamed, unplugged my computer from the wall, and never went back to that game again. Just got wayyyy too real :P

    As a Sims 2 player for four years, your article gave me some good laughs (in a good way). I also built some comically large houses, used money cheats, and had some terrifying children born to otherwise beautiful Sims (it takes some experience to consistently produce beautiful offspring from customized Sims).

    More seriously, though, this game has also stirred some strange emotions and feelings within me that I didn't know I was capable of. It can be so much more than just a silly digital doll-house game that some hardcore gamers like to dismiss.

    As someone who is going to have his first child, and daughter, tomorrow or the day after..... well, I don't know how to feel, but creepy article timing all the same.

    Here's what Ayane will look like: http://www.raising-redheads.com/images/Karen-Gillan.jpg

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