In response to "Multiple Roleplaying Disorder" from The Escapist Forum: Sims is ambitious for many reasons, but one thing just scared the living Hell outta me a few months back. As it is said in the article, the roleplaying aspect is massive in the game, and I would imagine, at first many people try to recreate themselves, or an idealized version of themselves in Sims. With the earlier Sims games, there was only so much you could do to make your Sim resemble you, but with The Sims 3, it's the wrong end of Uncanny Valley. Of course the graphics are not photo-realistic, but you can create a surrogate character that at least people can recognize "it's you". That raises lots of interesting, fun, and utterly terrifying possibilities.
Ever since the last game, I had aging turned off via cheat, I always stayed in the Adult stage. There was just so little time to accomplish anything in the game before the character got too old and died, and I wanted to explore every nook and cranny of the game with my character in it's full glory, max out all skills, jobs etc. Then a few months back, I decided to play the game as it was intended to be played, no cheats or tricks. I turned on aging and created my character as usual, who I fine-tuned to the point he looked and behaved like me as closely as the game would allow. I played like any other Sims game, got a nice house, got a job, girl, the life of my character was on track, and was getting close to reaching his lifetime goal. Then a small tip box popped up, saying that my Sim is aging and will become Old soon. Then in a blaze of stars and whatnot, my Sim turned into the last stage of Sim life, being and elder. And that terrified me to no end. Grey hair, crooked posture, trembling voice... and that's when I realized: he will never reach his lifetime goal now, there is no time.
I looked at the character, looking almost exactly like me, turning into a grey, crooked, wrinkled old man, and then something broke inside me. My own mortality, embodied by a bunch of colored pixels on a screen. That's when I realized, there is no cheat that can make me any younger. My character never reached his lifetime goal, he died trying desperately to reach it. I decided I cannot let that happen to me, I only live once...
So The Sims can do much more than just allow roleplaying, it can even carry on to the real life, and that scares the cr*p outta me...
In response to "The Regiment" from The Escapist Forum: As someone who has both spent time with realism units (Though mine were in Call of Duty) and served a year as a conscript in an actual army, I think it is fair to say that the comparsion is somewhat flawed. What Mr. Branch is describing in his article is really what every teenager at some point learns (some learn it way later than other though).
The Army was a whole other deal. Sure, it thaught me responsibility in the quickest way possible ("Didn't pack your storm kitchen? Seems like you'll be eating cold chow the rest of the week") but the camaraderie with some of the men and women I served with can never be emulated. Being on a sports team or in a competitive clan/unit instills a certain friendship, but it is not the same sense of belonging that military service instills. If you have a really bad day, you just don't log onto ventrilo or the server. But in the military, if I have a bad day in the field, if I feel the entire world is stacked against me and I can't take anymore of the stuff the officers are making us do in the exercise I can't just decide not to show up. I will have to break down in front of these people that rely on me to do my part. Likewise, they will have to break down in front of me if they get the same feeling. In the end, we will come out as a stronger unity (hopefully) because we know each others strengths and weaknesses and we know that we can rely on each other to cover each others' backs and support each other in times of need.
Letting someone ventilate over ventrilo or teaching them how to behave like a grown up doesn't compare to that. Because online you'll never see the highest peaks of someone's personality nor will you see their deepest valleys. In a sense, realism units are more like really serious hobby-sports teams, which is rather fascinating in itself.