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Friday, January 16, 2004

Have you heard much about Sims Online? I hadn't. Well, Sims Online, as I'm sure you're aware, is an online version of "the world's most successful virtual-reality game, the Sims." Alphaville, the online game's fictional city could have morphed into any number of things, depending on decisions made by the game's players.

As it was, Alphaville quickly turned into a hellhole of scam-artists, crime syndicates, mafia extortion artists and teenage girls turning tricks to make ends meet. It became a breeding ground for the very worst in human nature - a benign-sounding granny, for example, who specialised in taking new players into her confidence, then showered them in abuse. Then there was the scam-artist known as Evangeline, who started out equally friendly and then stole new players' money.

I guess that's what you get when a bunch of teenage computer geeks are put in charge of things. Anyway, the story of this article is that one of the players, who was editor of the Alphaville newspaper, and who had been reporting on the illicit goings-on, has been booted from the game by its creators, Electronic Arts.

I just find this interesting for a lot of reasons. The most intriguing: Why would Alphaville, starting with a clean slate, become the hellhole that it seems to be? I know that human nature is depraved, and yet my city doesn't sound as bad as Alphaville. We've never had "mobs [turn] up on [our] doorsteps, demanding protection money." I could go on and on ... but I won't.

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