When I play video games, I sometimes come across dilemmas and decisions that can sometimes conflict with my morals. Practical examples can be “Should I sacrifice myself to save others?” or “What will happen if I lock pick this chest and steal this man’s belongings?”. I really like making decisions to see what the outcome will be if I choose one path over the other. But I never really thought, that the decisions that I have made affect me and everyone else after what I have done. I have been a PC player for a long time, growing up playing games like Doom and Grim Fandango. I still periodically play these games on and off; I can say that their magic is still alive after all these years. Although, my copy of The Sims still remains sealed tightly in a box under my bed. It would seem strange that this would be my only game that I haven’t touched recently, but there is good reason behind it.

It was October of 2000, my 8th birthday was around the corner, I had been fascinated with the new game from Electronic Arts. I frequently came over to my older cousin house to watch him play it, after trying his copy out, I thought it was very fun and creative, it was something different from I would usually play. I eventually asked my parents if I could receive this as a birthday gift. Eventually my birthday arrived and I saw the neatly packaged box with the nostalgic panel cover, I finally owned my very own copy of The Sims. I haven’t been that happy in a long time. Like everyone who played The Sims the first time, I recreated my friends and family. I was pretty good at replicating them very well, in fact I even created my own Sims avatar of myself. Surprisingly no Sims really died on any of my saves; I wanted to somewhat prolong the experience. By slowing down the time of the game I could just enjoy what the free will of these Sims did.

It was about a few months after owning the game. I had now created new Sims in different saves. I deleted the older saves of the ones that were my family and friends, because I wanted to be really creative on making with these new Sims. I can’t really recall the names of the Sims I created, but I remember making a couple... lets call them “Bob” and “Mary”. Bob and Mary would move into a older house that was already in the neighborhood. Bob was a young man that worked as a law enforcement officer and moved in with Mary who was working in medicine. After purchasing and moving the furniture around I was content with their new home and life. I on occasion would have them go out with friends and attend movies, go out to dinner, just like real life.

After a few weeks my neighbors down the street moved out of their home and move I think somewhere off the west coast. So I was generally excited to see who the new neighbors were going to be. We finally were able to meet them, I was astonished of who these new neighbors were. The couple look very identical to Bob and Mary in my Sims game. I don’t recall the names, but I do remember that the man was a police officer and the woman was a nurse at the hospital near by. They got together literally a few weeks ago, and were already thinking about being together seriously. I got really excited to meet them, it was like they were my characters that came to life. As young and naive as I may have been, I still wanted to kept this a secret to everyone. I made sure that if this was real, I wanted to keep it from the wrong hands. I remember looking at the disc to see if there was anything strange or similar to my cousin’s The Sims CD-ROM. Strangely enough, there was nothing different about them. Looked the same, the menu screen was the same and gameplay was the same. So not seeing anything wrong with it, I went along and played it with joy.

Soon enough, just for fun I had Bob romantically woo Mary to the point where I got them to get married. As odd as this may sound, they also got married together the following month. I remember attending the reception just in pure amazement that these two people may have gotten together indirectly because of me, they looked very happy to be together. I got even more curious and got them to “Woo-hoo” and eventually Mary was pregnant. I patiently waited every now and then to see if my decision caused this to happen in real life. For weeks I would glance outside to see her watering the flowers. But I would not see evidence of her expecting, I got really disappointed and I assumed that maybe this was really all just a coincidence. Just after loosing hope, I find my Mother receiving a call on the telephone. From the conversation, she sounded like it was great news; I asked my Mother what was going on? “Our neighbors are going to have a baby” she replied. I recalled that my expression must have been priceless, I jumped around shouting in joy; not the fact that they were having a baby, but my CD-ROM actually has this ability to control reality. However it seemed that there was a bit of a delay with each decision I make in the game, whether it was a few days or a few months, but still the decision would be made.

As the months went by, my neighbors were patiently awaiting the arrival of their new child, and I was kind of curious to see what he or she looked like too. But I went away to my game and see when the baby would arrive. I remember in the game that Mary was close to having the child, she would often cook, clean and go to work like usual. But one day I decided to have Bob cook the meal, just for the fun of it. Bob was not very skilled in culinary like Mary was but I still got him to cook on the oven. Then out of nowhere, the oven caught on fire, spreading throughout the kitchen and hallway, Mary, Bob and the unborn Sim were all trapped in the kitchen, I tried to move them desperately, but they wouldn’t budge, I perhaps could have done it a different way maybe. The phone was too far away to call the Fire Department. The house was still burning rapidly, and my Sims collapsed to the floor and remain motionless......I,...I killed them. While just sitting there watching the two lifeless avatars, I was in deep thought. I didn’t realize I had the power to also end their lives as well. Then, I immediately rose up and realize that this will happen in real life.

I ran towards my neighbors house as fast as I could. Not a moment too soon, he opened the door and welcomed me in. They were both relaxing in the living room, with some baby furniture recently bought for their child. I knew I couldn’t tell them the truth fully, they wouldn’t believe me. So I told them that oven they were using was malfunctioned, our old neighbors almost caught their house on fire. As I went on, they actually agreed that this probably wasn’t the best idea to keep the oven. They thanked me and I left with a deep relief knowing that I prevented their deaths, including the baby, perhaps the Sims would live on through these people.

Then a week later, I see the my neighbors dropping off what seemed to be a new oven to replace for their kitchen. As I continue to see them live, grow and love I genuinely felt really good, and slept knowing that I had power over this CD-ROM. But I woke up to a red flashing light beaming from my bedroom window. Down the street I looked upon horror to see my neighbor’s house was blazing with fire. I saw none of them outside the house or any firemen, I called 911 to plead the fire department to come as fast as they could. Six minutes later they come watering down the flames; it went on for hours. The whole neighborhood was standing in shock, and then I see two firemen carrying two corpses out of the home. It was them, everyone wept knowing that they had their whole future ahead of them. Even in my desperate attempt to avoid their deaths, I still failed. The decision was already made in the game, no matter how long I would prolong it or avoiding the path, it would still be made.

After the fire incident, I knew I couldn’t ever play that game again. Knowing that no matter what I would do, it would affect somebody out there in our world. So I grabbed the CD-ROM and placed it in a small case and put in the basement deep where I couldn’t find it easily. I thought this would solve everything, no one would ever be harmed by my hands again.

Years went by, I grew up normally like any other teenager; even started back playing video games. I looked back on that incident and realize that it wasn’t ever going to happen in any other game, it was just a one-time ordeal. As it goes with every other teenager, I had some real issues, like bullying. There was this one kid named Brandon, and he never stopped abusing me every day of the week. It came to the point where the authorities were involved due to the physical abuse he would often give me each day. Every day it was the same, I got so tired of it; I just wanted to end it. Then I remembered, I do have the ability to end this. I still owned The Sims, I remembered the capabilities it was able to do, I could do “anything” to end the abuse from Brandon. After hours of searching through the basement, I reclaimed my old CD-ROM of The Sims. I gazed upon the case, I thought for awhile if I should carry on with this. Knowing that I was able to create good from this game, I was also to create evil as well. I concluded that this was a necessary evil, I needed to stop the abuse somehow, if the authorities couldn’t stop this, then I am the one to do it.

I loaded the disc, and created the new save titled “Brandon”. I wanted to make sure that this was authentic as possible, I had Brandon, his parents and brother; similar hairstyles, clothes and house. Then I proceeded on with the game, I turned off the free-will to make sure everything that I do will be occurred outside the game. I had his parents ridicule him and continually bring him down with negative comments, shouting and abuse. I felt kind of sorry for this Sim, but then I remembered that this was for a far more sinister monster. I had the parents starve Brandon, they fed themselves and his brother, but not Brandon. The starvation went on for a few days, and then he collapsed. The lifeless body just stood there like Bob and Mary. Once Brandon was dead, I closed the game. Now all I had to do was patiently wait.

Everyday, he seemed a bit slower in his abuse, I could tell that it was working. Soon enough, he didn’t even approach me anymore, he didn’t even show up to school anymore. I feel that his parents may have stowed him away to prevent him from getting any food. Then a few weeks later, the school announced that Brandon passed away, even the news covered the story. Saying that Brandon’s parents kept him secluded in his room, and starving him for no apparent reason. It seemed kind of shocking at first when I first heard the news. But I knew that this can’t occur anymore, it was only for this one time. I placed the game in a black deposit box and locked it with a key. Then I hid it under the bed so that I could be reminded of this terrible omen. I don’t remember where I hid the key, but I know its still lays dormant in this house.

Now, that I am looking back on this years from now, I’m afraid that somehow I will get corrupted again and play this game once more. I fear for the safety of everyone, my family, friends and even strangers. But, as fearful as I am for the game, I sort of miss the power and impact I had over people. It felt good to make the decisions and to hold the life of someone in my own hands. Who knows, I could be tempted to play the game again, just for fun. I could create a whole new random character and it could be you. Let’s just hope that you die of old age, and not by my hand.

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