Friday, June 26, 2009

Real feelings for virtual people

One of the oddest, yet most compelling, blogs I've found is the Alice and Kev blog by Robin Burkinshaw. It is a daily illustrated story of two homeless people, a father and daughter, but the story is being played by Burkinshaw in the Sims 3 game. Some clever editing and a feel for pathos makes the story seem far more than two game characters. I find myself actually feeling for these virtual creations.

Burkinshaw is a student of games design, and has a history of trying to subvert the intentions of games and push their limits. There's a very funny related blog about the game Space Rangers 2. The aim of the game is to become the best Space Ranger in the galaxy ... but Robin's method was a little unorthodox, and very funny in the telling. There's also a downloadable collection of Spore creatures that push the limits of reality.

Alice and Kev have a large online following, and my wife and I are addicted enough to check for the daily update every day. Because Burkinshaw lets the game decide much of what happens there is a real degree of not knowing what will happen next. Will Alice escape the clutches of her abusive father? Can she form meaningful relationships with the other Sims when she seems incapable of trust? Will Kev go too far in his outlandish behaviour? Are there consequences in the game for actions we would find abhorrent in real life?

It's a geek soap opera for the post-modern age. Check it out and get hooked.

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