‘So, games can tell you all sorts of things,’ said Austin, pulling up the The Sims window. The Sims was really an archaic game, 21 years old by then, but Alaska knew that Austin always had a thing for old things.
‘So, the furniture catalog. All of your Sims have a panel of needs and life satisfaction that you have to take care of. You can send them to work to earn Simoleons for your household. With those Simoleons you can buy whatever’s in the catalog, if you have enough money.’ The little sticky people on the screen froze and a catalog of chairs, beds, and toilets appeared at the bottom of the screen. ‘You can buy a cheap toilet or an expensive toilet, or both, but the expensive toilet will satisfy your Sim’s bladder need better. So it’ll make your Sim happier overall. Same if you buy a more expensive bed or a more expensive painting for your wall. Get it?’ Austin said as he moved around the digital domestic environment of his imaginary Sim-family. ‘The game insists that the objects that cost more money will satisfy you better, thus pushing you into the cycle of labour and consumption, which promises you happiness and fulfillment.’
‘That’s very interesting,’ said Alaska. ‘So that’s what you’re doing in that game studies module?’
‘Yes, and I have to tell you, it’s been really enlightening,’ Austin answered.
‘Have you spoken to Nevada about it at all?’ Alaska asked.
‘No, I haven’t spoken to her in a while. She seems pretty busy with making that cosplay thing for her competition at GeekCon in San Myshuno.’
Austin was in his third year of college. Ever since he entered Britechester University, he could not be happier. He was finally fulfilling his lifetime aspiration of becoming a real academic – nothing made him feel more himself than spending hours in the library, expanding his horizons. Besides, everything was going well with his high school best friend Morgan. At that point they were long more than friends.
Alaska just started college. She went to Britechester University, just like Austin. Their older sister Sydney was going to graduate that year from Foxbury College; she was a biology major and her dream was to move as close to the ocean as possible and carry out environmental work. Alaska had no doubt Sydney would do that as soon as she was free from the responsibilities of college.
Alaska herself really enjoyed painting, reading, and doing other creative and literate activities. She picked a few courses in Simlish literature, but she was also very close to nature, just as she always had been. So Austin and her always got along well, and once they were in the same town again, they could go on hiking or fishing excursions into the lakes and forests, which were abundant in and around the Britechester area. Their parents, Summer and Travis, lived back in their Willow Creek house, together with Nevada, Alaska’s twin sister, who was doing classes online alongside developing her career as a professional gamer. In that aspect, Nevada and Alaska were complete opposites – Alaska couldn’t stay indoors for too long, while Nevada could stay in her basement bedroom for however long, just playing video games.