Making Choices

When we’re creating families and living out their lives through our games, it’s sometimes a difficult thing to see them unhappy. I know from reading the discussion boards at EA’s Forum that a lot of players go out of their way to make life easy for their sims.

I’m not one of them.

It’s possible to use cheats to improve a sim’s skills, get job promotions, and add hefty sums of simoleons to the family account. There are also “in-game” tricks — like taking a thoughtful shower for inspiration before a sim sits down to write a novel. Of course, as the all-knowing, all-seeing, everywhere-present creator of our own sim world, we can easily step in at any time to intervene when things aren’t going well. I’ll admit to occasionally slipping over to CAS to create a “potentially perfect” mate for a lonely sim, but beyond that, I try — as much as possible — to take a “hands off” approach. I want my sims to have their own lives, to make their own choices, and to accept the consequences of their own behavior. In keeping with that style of play, I mostly sit back, watch my sims, and follow their whims and aspirations as guides.

The result is that I often have unhappy sims. Some, in fact, are utterly miserable. Am I heartless? There are certainly times when I feel sorry for a sim in my game, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to jump right in and fix things for him or her. Instead, I’ll shake my head a bit and lament the poor choices and bad decisions that have caused so much misery.

One such miserable sim is Dalton Vaile. I briefly shared a bit of his story before when he and his girlfriend, Janis Melanson, went out on the first “dinner date” in my game. Now, for me, the first word that comes to mind when I think of Dalton is degenerate. As an artist, he’s lived a wild, reckless lifestyle, carousing┬álong into the night with his other degenerate artist friends. Think Bohemian lifestyle…to the max.

At one such drunken soiree, he met Eva, a townie whose last name I don’t recall. Somehow I neglected to even note it in my records. I never liked Eva, you see. She had nothing to offer. When she got pregnant and claimed that Dalton was the father, I wasn’t sure what would happen. Dalton was not the marrying kind and neither was Eva. So, I stepped back and let them live their own lives.

At the time the baby was born, Dalton was living with Beatrice Oakes. She was an older woman who’d lost her husband, and she rented a room of her house out to help struggling students. She believed in Dalton and his art, felt sorry for him, and took him in. Of course, when she learned that Dalton had a newborn son, she persuaded him to at least see the child. He did, and with a bit of gentle persuasion from Beatrice, he decided to “do the right thing” and marry Eva. Maybe, in time, they’d come to love one another.

It was a miserable marriage from the start. Eva and little Coleman moved into Beatrice’s home, and for the most part, Eva took full advantage of having a built-in babysitter. Although she was unemployed and did nothing more than sit around, Eva left the care of her son almost entirely up to Beatrice.

More unhappy than ever, Dalton resumed his reckless ways. He flunked out of art school, spent most of the time in a stupor, and fought with Eva every moment they were together. Finally, he divorced her, kept custody of Coleman, and made a desperate attempt to get his life back together. Oh, this man was so miserable.

ColemanHe sunk lower and lower, and finally even the kind-hearted Beatrice could bear no more. She tossed the fellow out on his ear, and little Coleman along with him. Forced now to fend for himself, he rented an inexpensive little house, but couldn’t afford to furnish it beyond the bare necessities.

For several years, he and Coleman struggled. As much as Dalton loved his son, he still couldn’t break free from his old habits, and the little boy spent a lot of time alone, staring at the walls, wondering just where his father might be.

I think the turning point came when Coleman asked for an art table. No way could Dalton afford to buy one, but he sold a few old paintings to scrape together a bit of cash, and even though it meant not paying the rent that month, he bought his son the table he wanted.

Seeing the joy on his son’s face changed Dalton, I think. He started spending more time with Coleman. He started painting again, too. Soon Coleman was making friends and becoming a little more outgoing. Dalton stopped throwing money away on parties, started being a more responsible parent, and even saved enough to fix up the house a bit so that Coleman’s friends could come to visit.

SelfieEventually he met Janis. It was at Magnolia Blossom Park. He was painting there one afternoon when a “Singles Club” came out for a gathering. He and Janis began chatting, exchanged phone numbers, and even took “selfies” together.

Afterward, he nearly missed out, though. He was hesitant to call Janis. Why would she want to go out with a loser like him?

Fortunately, he took the chance and called her.

The relationship has worked out well, and they’re both very happy. Dalton’s ex-wife, Eva, by the way, finally landed in jail for shoplifting, so she’s out of the picture — not that she ever came around that much.

Coleman and Janis get along well, and now, Janis is expecting. Will Dalton propose? I’m hoping he will, but it’s up to him. He’s made many bad choices and wrong decisions over the years, but I think he’s learned a lot about life now. For the first time ever, Dalton Vaile is a happy man. His son is happy, too.

I wish them well.

 

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