The Dark Side of Sims Online

And we're not referring to the gameplay here. The Salon put up a nice article ('ad-powered' for non-subscribers) on Professor Peter Ludlow, who has been playing The Sims Online until recently. Ludlow's TSO character Urizenus used to work as some kind of reporter who investigated various incidents and persons in the city he lived in and even ran a news paper/blog called Alphaville Herald. Naturally not only covering the shiny spots of the game he also talked to people who earn money through 'in-game prostitution'.

What bothered Ludlow and Bolter about this was that Evangeline asserted that, in real life, he was a minor and that many of the "girls" he hired to talk dirty in his brothel were also underage. Bolter wondered whether the characters were breaking any laws or doing anything else immoral or unethical. She says she acknowledges that, because the characters weren't having real sex, it's hard to say they were involved in "prostitution."

An interesting point especially since the in-game currency "Simoleans" can be turned into real cash through Ebay. And since hardly anyone of us plays the game I recommend reading the Salon tidbit as it is a fascinating tale of Ludlow, who ended up getting his character deleted by EA due to a chain of incidents and complaints, the way The Sims Online is being played by a number of subscribers and the 'Sims Shadow Government' among other things.


It's an interesting article, but I'd hardly call anything in it "shocking." From EA axing his account to kids acting like virtual-tranny-sluts, it's nothing new.

Here's my favorite line though:

"I do know it's a maxim in the game industry that when a game is boring and there's nothing else to do people turn to sex," noted Edward Castronova, an economist at Cal State Fullerton who studies (and plays in) online worlds.

It's pretty obvious that he is feeling the pulse of the game industry with statements like that.

*snort* and the real world.

From the first moment I heard of this game I thought: What are people gonna do in this game besides cybersex? They cancelled Simsville for this?

when a game is boring and there's nothing else to do people turn to sex,

There's sex in Black and White?