Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Sims Social debuts and requires thin avatars

I've always enjoyed the Sims franchise, but not the point where I buy all the expansion packs. The Sims on Facebook seemed like a perfect combination to me, and I knew it would consume many hours of my day once it launched. Today, The Sims Social is now live to the public. I've played it for about an hour now, and I think it is a very well done Facebook game. It manages to combine many of the core driving social game mechanics along with the heart and soul of the original Sims games.

When I play games like the Sims, with an avatar, I like the avatar to be a representation of self. The Sims Social does fairly well in terms of skin color variation, clothing, and hair styles (for female gender anyway, I didn't look at the options for male characters). Absent, however, is the ability to adjust the weight of your avatar. I understand why this was done from a technical standpoint. In a 2D game, you would need to make assets for every single wearable item in all the different avatar sizes - which would increase the load time of the game exponentially and hurt the performance of the game. I understand that. However, it still makes me sad that I'm going about my business in the game as a close proximation to myself, however I'm much much thinner than I am in real life.

I'm not so disappointed that there isn't a slider for weight or multiple weight options. What I'm disappointed about is that skinny is always the default for avatars. No mainstream game has ever ONLY had plus size avatars. Could you imagine the backlash from all the players who are forced to be fat when they're not in real life? It would be staggering. But no one thinks twice about the fact that default avatars are thin in the majority of games. That's the norm. To deviate from that and use fat avatars would be a progressive bold move that most game companies aren't willing to chance. I'm sad that it takes this much effort to be inclusive of different body types in games.

It's a good game though, try it out.

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