I was raised by The Sims, much like a feral child raised by wolves, but with less dirt, raw meat and howling. A bold statement to make, but I did eat, breathe and live The Sims. The hardest days of my youth were those waiting for my brother to finish his Sims City on our old PC so I could check on the progress of my virtual family, a pain I can presume only imaginable to mother’s torn from their children, waiting to be reunited after months of being forced apart. And what an emotional reunion it was; seeing Sim David getting his promotion so he could go to work in a Limousine as opposed to the broken down Cadillac, oh the shame when my friends would come round and see what a terrible Sims God I’d been! Life became easier when I was bestowed with my own Sims playing machine, day or night, rain or shine, I would be there for my Sims; they needed me. God forbid if I did not notice that their bladder bar was entering the red zone, I did not care if I should wet myself for fear of leaving them, but I would not bequeath the same fate to them, what would the Maid think!? My life became a series of red to green bars and diamonds, ‘Rosebud’ money cheats, and conversation bubbles. Unfortunately real life called, I had a real university to go to as opposed to The Sims 2 University, and Sims 3 was subsequently invented; I do not want to follow my Sims to work or see them in 3D, this is meant to be a virtual world, nothing like my real life; a line was crossed that day. When you realise that in the amount of time you have sat watching your Sims read a cook book you could have read one yourself, you know it is time to end a good thing.
I am not sure whether The Sims captured my undivided attention because I had Asperger’s, or whether it actually made me more Aspergian, if that’s at all possible. I do know that to this day I still enter conversations with new people with a planned series of ‘serious talk’, ‘joke’, ‘talk about hobbies’, ‘flirt’, oh no too far ‘serious talk’, ‘serious talk’, ‘serious talk’. Likewise I still feel the need to ‘touch base’ and call friends who are slipping off my friendship scale. In some ways I believe it helped prepare me for adult social life, in many other ways I feel it totally gave me unrealistic expectations of how to move on up in the world; turns out playing chess on your own does not gain you qualifications in logic, nor does looking in a mirror increase your charisma, you can still get out of a swimming pool even if the steps have been removed or obstructed, and your partner will do more than just flap her arms around when she finds you having ‘Woohoo’ with the next door neighbour. One important life lesson I did take away was that other people’s Sims are not to be messed with, this was discovered after sneaking onto my housemates computer and ordering her 3 sets of twins from the adoption agency. A lesson which I feel has been invaluable and applicable to many situations I have encountered.
It did not take long before I realised ‘Real Life’ actually sucks, and my head was yearning for its next escape. This is when The West came along, and I almost failed my degree skipping lectures and staying up all night to ‘duel’ other players and lead my town folk, with quality names like “Jaguar Paw”, into fort battles. I do not regret a minute of it. The summer after this I spent managing my own hospital, Theme Hospital, followed by Theme Park. Unfortunately such pursuits are somewhat isolating, if only I could combine computer games with socialising? Guitar Hero, Monkey Hero and Singstar you are the answer to life, the universe and everything, but also the reason I had to retake my 2nd year of university.
Now I solemnly click away at my Candy Crush Saga pieces in between working and doing ‘adult’ things like cooking non-microwaveable dinners and applying for tax rebates. The reason I have taken you through all my sordid gaming addictions? Because a new paper has revealed that children with Autism or ADHD spend twice as long playing video games and are more likely to become addicted to them. I think I’ve answered that query pretty succinctly without having to make any further points; It is not an addiction, just a very ill-informed life choice.