Editorial: This is the game that never ends. Yes it goes on and on my friends….

Good day, you adorable Lusi-sprites.

Some misinformed, intellectually underdeveloped boobs have given me just a smidge of flack for my unapologetic love for The Sims games and similar-ish games (SimCity, Harvest Moon, FF: Martin Luther King, etc) because they are not games, there is no point, no ending, no successful rescue of the princess from the correct castle. This is all true. It is also true that I have recently (and less recently) had conversations with various friends about MMORPGs, and how they too seem to have no real end, no real way to beat the game. Even if I defeat the Lich King in World of Warcraft, for example, and get myself best-in-slot gear, max all of my skills, etc … guess what? Expansion time is right around the corner. The cycle repeats. All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again, as they say. So it is not just fuzzy-wuzzy sandbox sim games that have no real end, no way to beat the game.

Even he can't wrap Space Invaders
The inability to actually “beat” a game is not a new phenomenon by any means. Back in ye olde days, when we would hitch up our horse and buggy and trot down to the local arcade, there were many games there that simply had no real end. The best one could hope to do is “wrap” the game – score so many points that the score rolls from 99999999 to 00000001. Of course, the game would become so difficult, so fast-paced and insane that not even highly-trained Ninjas had sufficient reflexes to keep going long enough to wrap the score, but still, it is the principle of the matter here. Suffice to say, games that you could not finish decisively and completely are not a new thing here, and not just the hallmark of casual ” not really a game” games.

Now, before Noob gets his Australian thong in a twist, I am not trying to compare The Sims to games like Tetris or Space Invaders, or even WoW or Eve. I am not that naive. I am curious, though, whether it matters whether or not a game has a traditional ending. The obsessive compulsive in me certainly yearns to put a big old check mark in the “done” column next to a game on my list. I am prone to excessive time wasting when a game is open-ended, or impossible to complete. I almost need those ending credits to roll before I can convince myself that it is time to put that game down and move on to another.

For myself, I am trying to limit the amount of time I spend playing games like WoW, Tetris and The Sims 3. I try to only play these when I have something else to do, such as a podcast to listen to, or a Skype call to be attentive to. When I can devote my full attention to a game, I would rather focus on games that have a clear finish line that I can work towards. What about you guys? Do you prefer to play in the sandbox, or would you rather race to a finish line?

14 comments

  1. WoW at least has real, game-like goals that can be accomplished, even if there is additional content added to extend that beyond a certain point. There is a particular set of ways in which to succeed.

    The Sims, on the other hand, has goals which only exist in the user’s mind, and an arrangement in which it is impossible to lose except by deliberate intent.

  2. Not true! You could say that fulfilling your Sim’s ‘lifetime wish’ constitutes beating the game. Or you could aim to own the biggest, most expensive house in town. Or some other goal you set for yourself.

    In Tetris, you could say that you just want to get to Level 19 or whatever the last level change is, even thought he game will still go on and on until you freak out and can’t keep up anymore.

    In WoW, you can set a goal such as L80, or killing the LK, or hitting L80 AND maxing your skills, or earning 20k gold …

    Lotsa games are JUST LIKE the Sims in that there is no clear “omg this is the end of the game” moment. :P

  3. The goals you are setting are exterior to the game. You can just as well set a goal of ‘turn the game on’ and ‘not fall asleep whilst playing’ and then pat yourself on the back for being a winner.

    The point is that games have clear victory conditions, the alternatives not leading to victory.

  4. You seem to have mistaken the Sims as a game again, Ginia. My general rule of thumb is; if you can’t pay it, then it’s not a game. Try to remember that going forward should you feel yourself becoming confused. :)

  5. As much as I didn’t expect to, I’m going to have to side with Ginia on this one. The Sims has goals in-game that are no less arbitrary than those of the average MMO (Final Fantasy XI and arguably WoW excluded). If we are going to say the Sims isn’t a game, then we should also say that most MMO’s are not games for the same reason: there is no definitive ending, and though there are goals in-game, there is no final purpose, no ultimate end towards which the player moves.

  6. Deimosion has hit the nail on the head with this one. The Sims might have pre-created roles, but that doesn’t make it any less of a game. Although we seem to have descended back into the “Is The Sims a game?” argument. Back on topic, I do have to say that something like Pokemon Channel, or any one of the main games after you’ve beaten the Elite Four does become something of a sandbox, and at that point, I tend to breed and catch whilst playing a console game with the handhelds, or in the case of Pokemon Channel, just have it on in the background.

  7. Deimosion is fundamentally wrong, as much as I dislike MMOs I must nevertheless admit that they are built upon a foundation of win-or-lose objectives which one must overcome in order to advance, the Sims clearly has none of that. If you are determined to try and pull down another piece of vastly superior software in order to sully it in the foul bog that is non-gameyness so that you might somehow justify your continued support of the Sims; may I suggest to you Heavy Rain? I’m honestly still not sure that it’s a game, in fact it probably isn’t.

  8. The Sims 2 and 3 most certainly have objectives and lose conditions: aspirations are wins, dying is a lose.

  9. Woah, woah, woah … the point of the Sims isn’t to find new and creative ways to kill my people?

    Hey at least when I kill them, their game ends. :D

    Now Tetris….that shit won’t die. :(

  10. You can no more ‘win’ at Sims than you can ‘win’ at life, moreover if dying is a ‘lose’ then I think the ‘game’ is rigged against ‘players’.

  11. You can beat missions, that is what the game is designed around. The Sims is designed around watching as digital avatars perform menial every day chores. There’s a chasm of difference between these two things.

    Whether or not a game ends is quite irrelevant, and frankly makes no sense to me.

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