Simulating the Homeless with The Sims 3

In a remarkable game-based social experiment, Robin Burkinshaw is using The Sims 3 to model a two-person homeless family.

The U.K.-based game design student tracks the virtual lives of the father-daughter pair via his Alice and Kev blog:

I created two Sims, moved them in to a place made to look like an abandoned park, removed all of their remaining money, and then attempted to help them survive without taking any job promotions or easy cash routes. It’s based on the old ‘poverty challenge’ idea from The Sims 2, but it turned out to be a lot more interesting with The Sims 3’s living neighborhood features.

New American Media has more:

Kev is an insane, middle-aged man with a bad temper, who hates children. He often behaves inappropriately around others… His daughter, Alice, is a teenager who is constantly exhausted from school, the part-time job she holds, and the cold hard bench she sleeps on at night. And because she gets most of her meals at school, she becomes worried every time the weekend rolls around. You will usually find Alice desperately trying to find a bed to sleep in…

GP: It’s fantastic to see someone addressing a real issue in a meaningful way via off-the-shelf game tech…

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  1. 0
    queerassuffolk says:

    I concur with DarkSaber–there is nothing meaningful about this. And let’s be real–the Sims has no capacity to compute or offer representations of the social and economic conditions that cause homelessness–many of these individuals don’t have the opportunity to reject the upward mobility of "promotions" and "easy money". Postmodern laziness to assume the simulations can even touch on lived realities.

  2. 0
    Toxicity says:

    I simulate the grief of the families of burn victims every day by spawning Sims in closed rooms with a lot of wooden furniture and a fireplace to play with

  3. 0
    GoodRobotUs says:

    I found that strangely fascinating, but then, I always enjoyed the ‘Sims 2 – House of Evil’ experiment they did on the SA Forums as well. It’s more, I think, a testament to the excellent writing of the blogger than anything else.

  4. 0
    E. Zachary Knight says:

    While I did not have a serious pupose, I did something similar in the first Sims Game. When they released the update that gave you a completley empty neighborhood, I went through and started creating an oddball group of people living in the neighborhood.

    One of my characters was a man named Ugly Bum. He was fat, bald and wore a stained wife beater, boxer shorts and penny loafers. He lived in a barren lot with nothing but a shack in it. This shack was big enough to have a pay phone, a bail of hay to sit and sleep on and an outhouse in side.

    I put all his personality points on his out going and friendly stats. Completely if ignoring his cleanliness traits.

    He was a blast. Visiting other people in the neighborhood making messes in their houses and trying to be their friends.

    Other people in the neighborhood consisted of a family of crooks who lived in a prison style home, an incredibly rich family, a man who lived in a jungle style home with all the tiki stuff and one normal guy that I played.

    I think I might have had a house full of girls so that my guy would have some prospects for a wife, but it has been so long since I have played it.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  5. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    I’d hardly call this ‘meaningful’.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  6. 0
    SeanB says:

    for any sims 3 fan, this is very old news. After the game went live, this was one of the first ever stories linked to from the sims 3 game launcher.

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