Playing The Sims 4

I have never really played much attention to The Sims games, even though I enjoyed plays the demo for The Sims 2 many years ago and liked concept very much. For whatever reason, it never caught caught my interest enough to inspire m to play it. That is, until EA Games expanded gender customization in The Sims 4 last month.

As an androgynous, genderqueer man, I really appreciate this. I have heard people speak dismissively of this update, arguing that it is nothing special because the same versatility could have been accomplished through modding. I don’ t know if that is true, although I do understand that modding can be tricky and complicated, but the fact that EA Games chose to standardize this versatility is a clear and wonderful acknowledgement of gender-fluid people.

With that said, I was surprised to find that some full-body clothing (such as the female lingerie and bathing suits) are still female only.

Depsite this, however, the expansion is a major reason why I got the game, although the sale price I paid–which was dropped by 60%–made it all the more worthwhile.

After about a month of playing The Sims 4, I find myself really enjoying the game-play overall but most all the architectural design. In some ways, the possibilities are limited. There are no conical roofs, landings for stairs, or enough size variety of windows styles. Nevertheless, I have been capable of creating some lovely houses, mostly in the styles of popular early twentieth-century movements, with what the game gives me and a little modding.

Here are a few of the houses I have created so far and I have made all three available the community gallery, along with a few others as well. My username is dgahl.

A Fragment

The fine box, all gilt and varnished redwood, defies my pleasure
by instantaneously turning to stone;
weighing heavily in my hands, it pulls me ever deeper into the ocean.
In panic, I try to remove my hands
and save myself from certain death
but I cannot resist its magnetic pull
as it compels me inextricably into unfathomable depth.

Cause and Consequence

A relationship never ends on formal terms alone.

With false fortitude, I listened politely as he eagerly recited
the various praises and fine attributes of his new lover
and secretly felt an intense, sickening sensation,
in the pit of my stomach,
far worse than any other pain I incurred on his behalf.
For fear of exciting his resentment, I forbore all protestations
and suffered the final injury he would ever inflict upon me.

In a moment of jealous rage!,
I drove the knife as deeply as its short length could allow
and brought forth from the wound a steady stream of warmest blood.
Despite the horror of my actions, I felt neither pain nor distress,
and was gladdened to be sequestered within the sacred confines
of a psychiatric ward—
though it hardly felt like a home, the absence of my former lover
and his dominating presence brought great, unparalleled relief.

Old lovers simply do not make good friends.

An Ordinary Terror and the Cost of Curiosity

Superstition becomes, of its own source,
a conviction of the greatest import,
impelling us to forbearance and caution
but, with little reason to restrain the extent of its effects,
it fully prohibits those inclinations so necessary
for the fulfillment of a happy life.
The world and its many tragedies,
portrayed with even greater intensity by the all-pervading media,
justified my seclusion, and was only further reinforced
by my lack of means,
by which entertainment is so commonly sought.
As dearly as I have desired to remove myself
to the world without these walls,
to enjoy its pleasures and see its wonders,
anxiety disinclined me from idly neglecting my fears.
They held onto me as surely as gravity maintains the planets
in their orbit
but they, like these fears, are not eternal
and only seem, by those unseen forces kept,
preserved in their usual course for all futurity.

Alas, for all the world is in decay
and the sun burns more brightly every day.

Time leaves its inevitable mark upon the languorous mind,
extending and contracting itself to the inconvenience of the
suffering kind,
and compels to frenzied activity the spirit of foolish spontaneity,
such that one gladly undertakes ventures one would have once
declined.

Into the world I ventured fast, never fretting
what course I was setting,
and found myself, without wit
to guide me safely through it.
Not before long, as the sun’s dissipating light
dispelled and obscured my sight,
I came to a wood surrounded clearing
well without any person’s hearing
and stood awhile in silence, gazing ’round with awe
at everything I saw.

Then, as I looked at the scenery around
I heard a most disquieting sound,
like the rapturous gnawing of some beast
upon its victim feast.
From where I stood
among the many trees of the wood
I could not determine with certainty
the location of this entity
and remained for a while petrified;
yet, just as the sound feverishly intensified,
it then came to an ominous, abrupt end,
and I then saw that which such sounds portend—
bearing its teeth, colored with crimson,
the wolf revealed its maw most fearsome!

Quickly, I ran off into the wood, hoping to lose the wolf
amongst the labyrinth of trees,
but alas!, as I soon realized, it followed without faltering,
guided perhaps by those acute senses,
well-attuned by their nature,
to hunt their prey unto their victim’s unfortunate fate.
In a mere moment’s time I saw a crevice dug into the ground,
and hid myself below the rim, hoping that I had done so in time
to secure myself from its detection.

Dreading that the wolf might venture nearer to my hiding place,
I pushed my body more tightly into the crevice
and away from the outer rim.
It drew nearer yet did not seem to suspect my presence there,
for it neither growled menacingly nor discovered me,
and eventually, though not swiftly, departed from that spot
to the surrounding woods.
When all was quiet and I recovered my senses,
I warily raised my head just slightly above the rim
to determine its whereabouts
but whatever way I looked there appeared no frightful beast
to excite my fears,
so I left that place, fleeing back in the direction of my home,
and never again dared to venture out
on the whim of some desperate curiosity.

The Counsel of Despair

It’s easy enough to be alive, for it takes little effort on my part
to pump the bellows full of air and keep Life’s fire alight,
but whatever purpose this process might ultimately serve
is, as far as I know, impossible to justify.
In moments of despair all the world does seem to shrink,
any power over my life feels
as though it has been robbed from me,
and I no longer feel the pull of meaningful pursuits.

The world beyond these walls does not interest me,
for I see nothing in it but an agonizing enterprise.
As I move towards the object of my interest
my movements become slow,
as though the air were as thick as water,
and the terrible monster,
whose voracious appetite compels it to pursue me,
comes ever nearer
yet neither succeeds nor abates.
It is impossible for me to stop and give up to the powers that be,
for there is nothing there but death and decay,
yet I am not entirely unaware that my path
has become stereotyped;
like all nightmares the fiercest monster
is merely monotony.

The dogma of doubt dictates uncertain regulations
while despair certifies the uselessness of action
and negates the significance of life.
In fits of rage I shrug off the outside world
and defy the promises it offers,
denying the notion of ever being well again.
It’s hard enough to move when both desire and necessity
fail to motivate me, yet for every reason I have to live
I have an equally compelling reason to die.
I stand before the altar of Life, prepared to revive my resolve
through its resources,
but just as I place my offering bowl on the counter top
my limbs cease to obey my will.
I stand like a statue with a death-like paralysis,
unable to perform even the most basic task of feeding myself.

The very mechanisms of my defense monopolize my actions,
culling conscious control in favor of fear and dread
of things that may or may not come to be.
In compulsive fretting I feel “It” constricting,
pulling me inward towards myself
and away from the dangerous world
but within me there are only self-inflicting wounds,
familiarly striped and applied with feverish vigor.

In life I fear that which I have often seen in my sleep—
the expedient decay of my body.
Teeth rot and fall out; baldness spreads swiftly and inextricably
across my scalp;
and, with terror and morbid curiosity,
I open up my abdominal cavity
as though the skin were as soft as clay,
and watch my vital organs slip out.
There must be more to this entity, my intuition says,
than mere organismic order and instinctual instruction—
but as in dreams, so too in life,
I fearfully find nothing but flesh and bone.

Without our sacred values we crumble to our knees:
Eating is reduced to a mere routine
to stave off the ache of hunger,
beauty becomes a vacant facade to hide the structures of decay,
and life itself, despite all the good it purportedly entails,
becomes a purposeless passing from one day to the next.

The Assessor of Ma’at

Days come and go like the mortals who like to count them,
seemingly devoid of meaning and yet so potentially full of it.
Twenty years, a quarter of what we expect we have,
have passed …
but I fear the rapid beating of my heart
that fills me with the dread
of a sickness which lessens my own expectation
to an average of forty.

Specialists agree that there are no irregularities in my heart
but once it was suspected
I can’t entirely, nor easily, forget the possibility…

Last night I fearfully awaited the arrival of a Jackal-headed man,
entrusted with the task of taking me away to die,
but at the door—with a singularly unnerving knock! —
there stood a messenger of his office in his stead,
assigned to the task of informing his clients
of the Jackal’s whereabouts
and the likely time of his eventual arrival.

“He’s well on his way,” the messenger said
and quickly departed without delay.
He could not tell me any more than this
and left the time of his master’s visit, as it always was
and always will be, uncertain but certain.

We work hard to save time and spend what little of it we have
yet when we have too much of it on our hands we kill it.
I would like the promise of a long and happy life,
free from the consequences I fear,
but it is in lacking this that makes me afraid …
afraid of my own heartbeat.

The Skeptic’s Faith

Behold the door which has, for a thousand years,
been neglected
and the tomb beyond in which its inhabitants
have been protected;

hearken well, for naught but silence
disturbs this forgotten cell
and take heed of the warning
their esoteric names foretell.

Upon the face of each sarcophagus appears
a once honored name;
each in their own time and in their own way
had earn their acclaim

but all such honors, however significant,
fade into infinite obscurity
as easily as their mortal harbingers
bring them into notoriety.

The gorgon Medusa, who mortifies the body
with a stare,
animates life and annihilates it too
with the selfsame snare,

for it is fear that excites volition
in the performance of every task
and fear that freezes the enlivened face
into Death’s frightful mask.

Even now the cracks in the walls of the vault
begin to spread
and threaten what little glory is left
to the dejected dead

yet even merciless Time,
which neglects and forgets all things,
cannot negate a moment of happiness
and the peace it brings.