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Video Game of the Week – The Sims 3: Generations

By Michael Connolly

Parents of kids who are devoted Sims fans – and there are tens of millions of them – have become used to turning a blind eye to scenes that would surely be considered inappropriate in any other game. What started out 10 years ago as a charming romp through suburban American has slowly morphed into a sometimes too detailed look at the highs – and lows – of regular family life.

Don’t get me wrong – The Sims is still one of the most brilliant video game franchises to ever have been created (and the kids love it more than ever) – but the game has matured in a way that not every parent will be pleased about.

Take the latest expansion pack for The Sims 3, which is titled The Sims 3: Generations. Here, each life phase is given an additional theme: for children, it’s imagination and make believe; for young adults, it’s relationships, getting married and having kids of their own; and for older coupes, it’s about enjoying the golden years and watching their grandchildren grow up.

And then there are the teens. For them, it’s all about having fun. Whether it’s going a little crazy at the prom, throwing eggs at an old lady’s front door, or setting a bag of poop on fire on the neighbor’s front porch (seriously!), life is one big prank-filled party.

Of course, this is hugely entertaining for the tweens and young teens that are the staple of The Sims fan base, but you can’t help feeling that, like reality TV, the developers have become more interested in the shock value of the content rather than the traditional family-based storytelling.

Other new features that come with Generations: dress-up trunks, playground equipment, tree houses, video cameras…and, oh yes, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and lots of body hair. Get the idea?

But just as you think The Sims has lost its innocence forever, along comes a feature that restores your faith. All babies now come with a toy doll in their inventory. If the child plays with the toy enough, it will turn into an imaginary friend that only the child can see. If the child develops his chemistry ability (also new in Generations) to the highest level, then he will have the power to bring his imaginary friend to life.

It’s that kind of innovation and execution that has made The Sims series what it is today: one of the most popular video game franchises in the world. As a lot of parents have come to accept, if it takes a few pranks and a little chest hair to keep these brilliant ideas flowing, then so be it!

The Sims 3: Generations is rated T for Teen (crude humor, sexual themes, violence) by the ESRB. Check out the ESRB video game ratings and content descriptors at ESRB.org

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Platform: Windows, Mac

Genre: Simulation

RRP: $39.99

Release Date: May 31, 2011

ESRB Rating: “T” for Teen

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