Sims 4 Allows You to Play God with Avatars' Emotions
The Sims has always been a slightly existential experience, considering that you are essentially creating little people who conform to your every whim and serve as a higher power in a little artificial world. Now, there's even more fodder for existential ennui, as the upcoming Sims 4 will allow you to manipulate the avatars' emotions for the very first time, with incredibly unsettling results:
Here's a list of emotions experienced by the unsuspecting avatars in the trailer:
And, of course, angry:
[Credit: Sims Studio]
"Smarter Sims. Weirder stories." Won't argue with weirder, that's for sure.
Most disturbingly, the trailer features a truly bleak image of a naked man crying in a bathtub. It flies by, especially since it's callously set to pump-up music, but it's there.
There's no shortage of creepiness in this new version; in honor of their "New Emotions" theme, they've added a new way to kill off your little counterparts. They can now die of laughter. Speaking of existentialism, what kind of people are we that there was a demand for this?
A comment on the new method of demise from Kotaku commenter Gagutz: "That seems super dumb though. I don't want some character I put a ton of time into to just up and die for some stupid reason like laughter. I want my character to die from something I can actually control."
Gagutz can rest easy, for the record, as supposedly a Sims 4 player would need to actively choose for their character to die of laughter.
Although these avatars presumably do not actually have feelings, just a wider range of facial expressions and weird bathing habits, this game brings up an interesting question about artificial intelligence: is it ethical to give robots feelings, particularly negative ones? We already have a robot who can supposedly read human emotions; building robots that have feelings is a much taller order, but not completely outside the realm of possibility. Since emotions are often considered the defining characteristic of humanity, giving robots feelings would give robots a comparable moral status to humans, which would create a whole host of ethical problems. For example, artificial intelligence researchers believe that the greatest obstacle to building a human-like artificial intelligence is the difficulty of mathematizing creativity, or building a robot that is capable of original thought. If we were able to build robots that had emotions, but were still incapable of disobeying our programming, then we would have built ourselves a race of sentient slaves.
In the spirit of morbidity, watch INC Gamers' Tim McDonald do his damnedest to create a "horrific abomination that Should Not Be" using a Sims 4 demo:
[Credit: INC Gamers Vidcast]