Virtual debates about homelessness in Sim City hold up a mirror to real life

Back in 2009, the story of Alice and Kev, a blog about two homeless Sims characters, drew a lot of attention. (At the end of the story, the blogger asked for readers to help fight homelessness in the real world.) Here’s another interesting collision of the world of games and the world of social action. An artist-activist has made a book that uses complaints that Sim City gamers post about how to get rid of homeless people in their simulated cities.

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 11.18.13 PMBut once the game was released – with its depiction of homelessness included – the questions become more sinister, especially when taken out of the context of the EA Games forums. “How do you get rid of these people,” asked 1ButtonDash, a year later. “They gather in parks and then people don’t go to parks.”

“I mean as you level-up your residential to medium I think it’s almost impossible for some people to not become homeless. I read that buses are supposed to take them out of the city but it doesn’t seem to be working … If anyone has gotten rid of em plz let me know what you did.”

One player asks: “How do homeless people come to be? Does anyone know? I’m pretty sure it has to do with residential running out of money and becoming abandoned, but I haven’t been able to confirm this.” A second replies “a better question would be, how do you kill homeless Sims?”

And in a post titled “the upside to disasters” another points out that every storm has a silver lining: “Tornadoes kill homeless sims. I don’t know how to get rid of them otherwise.” —The Guardian.