I don't know how it happened, really, but this week I've found myself playing The Sims 2. I'd tried part 3 a while back, and it just didn't do it for me. It wasn't enough "Sims 1-ish" for me, I guess. A friend at work recently clued me in to www.gog.com, a site that carries a lot of older (i.e., from the 90s, cripes, are we calling that "older" now?) PC game titles like Sacrifice, Fallout, and Arcanum. It's really pretty neat, you should check it out.
Anyway, so I was playing Creatures 2 via that, and my 5 year old son was watching. I noticed he was really digging it, but sadly the UI of Creatures is really not that intuitive, and I was having a tough time getting back into it. I think that's what reminded me of the Sims, that and anticipation for the next SimCity game coming in 2013. And so I chose The Sims 2.
This turned out to be a really fun family activity. Naturally I duplicated our family, but both kids were just fascinated to watch our family go through their daily routines, and figure out what the little speech bubbles over their heads meant. And of course they delighted in seeing their sim-selves get into arguments, and steal seating from each other, and get naked to take a shower. They also thought it was hilarious that I had to sell my son's bed to order pizza the first night, because I'd spent all our money and everyone was yelling about being hungry.
It was an interesting moment when the sim-social worker came. All the family happened to be watching when she took our kids away. I had a sense of dread for a moment there, figuring they'd both be reduced to tears. They asked a lot of questions about where they'd gone, and when they were coming back. I explained it as best I could. I certainly hope they don't develop a phobia of being taken away out of this, but they seem fine. I don't know if I CAN get them back, but I started a new family in a new town the next night ("very Simpsonesque move" a friend remarked). This time we're much more focused on getting homework done every night and making sure there's food in the fridge.
I'm not sure how long this will be interesting to them (and me) but right now it's fun. And once we get tired of it, The Sims Medieval is waiting...