I’m not much of a gamer. I used to play Rollercoaster Tycoon and a lot of online chess. If it wasn’t for the logos I couldn’t tell the difference between a Playstation and an N64. Do they still make the N64?
I do know enough to know that The SIMS is a pretty popular game. Or activity. Can you win it? Anyway, the latest version of this virtual reality game has its characters heading outside for a little family time around the campfire at a fictional national park. According to the trailer, you can play horseshoes with a bear, hook-up in a tent, and experience the joys of what happens when government employees are saddled with overseeing toilet maintenance.
Outside of the National Park system’s mandate to stay at least 150 yards away from all wildlife (or invite them into camp for recreational pastimes), these are all pretty realistic scenarios of a typical American camping trip.
But if The SIMS 4 Outdoor Retreat is going to shoot for realism in family camping, it better include the following:
1. Litter. Lots of litter
It’s not an easily-accessed American wilderness if there isn’t a sufficient collection of empty water bottles, Clifbar wrappers, and apple cores (They’re biodegradable!); as well as the occasional pair of socks or an abandoned XXXL tee shirt. And it has to be sweaty.
2. Loud music at night
A national park campground isn’t anything close to enjoyable without an ongoing cacophonous serenade of classic rock or inappropriate hair metal. And it can’t be by the artists who have managed to transcend those eras; it has to be the absolute most robust compendium of bands whose fans wait through an entire concert set just to hear that “one song.” Think, Lita Ford. Or Mountain.
This goes without saying that a free shuttle has to be available to be neglected. To get the simulation down pat, we’re going to need minivans stacked rocker panel to roof rack with napping toddlers, indifferent teenagers, and miles of “keep them quiet and uninterested DVDs” like “The Lego Movie” and “Frozen” and an impressive cross section of gas station snack items. Oh, and dad needs to be pissed behind the wheel and unable to understand why all these people visit on July 4 weekend. Just like he’s doing.
4. Unreasonably large campfires
Wood. We’ll need lots of firewood. And don’t think for a second that the mature timber stands are off limits or that folding furniture can’t be burned either, noxious plastics be damned. You remember Donald Sutherland’s arsonist character from “Backdraft?” Yeah, he needs to be in charge of your fire. Oh, and the fire’s height and intensity needs to correlate directly with the volume of the music referred to in Item #2.
5. Ice cream
At the very least, game players will need it as an object of bribery to keep the kids from complaining about the lack of water slides. It also has to be overpriced and come in flavors that easily stains clothing, because what better signifies American adventure tourism than week-long evidence of our love for a double scoop of mocha fudge in a waffle cone?
There you go SIMS programmers—if these items and situations haven’t made it in your game … then, there’s always SIMS 5: Let’s Feed the Squirrels.