ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Are You Really Alive? A Sims 3 Existential Crisis

Updated on March 27, 2010

Here's a bit of a caveat, if you're sort of prone to depression when you contemplate the idea that we humans might not be anything at all, give this article a miss. It isn't going to help much. Unless you want to dismiss it out of hand, which might work.

Here's the hypothesis: We are meat sims, no more or less real than any computer animation. We are perhaps, more advanced, more complex, but we have no eternal nature, indeed, like any helpless computer sim, we are but temporary products of code, destined for mandatory deletion.

Here's how I came to form that hypothesis.

A sim appears to live, to love, to have a career, to build a home, to interact with the world, but ultimately, a sim has no real existence or individuality, it is merely the product of the program. When it is deleted, it just disappears into the ether. Sure, it hangs around in the ghostly memory of the hard drive for a while, but it is eventually overwritten. You can create a thousand copies of exactly the same sim and they are, for all intents and purposes, the same. Put them in a game though, and they assume a veneer of individuality, enough of a veneer that it almost seems like they have some kind of personality, some kind of soul.

Did playing The Sims really trigger an existential crisis? Why yes, yes it did, because at the heart of it, one can make the argument that we are not that different from sims. Sims appear because code dictates their make up, just as our own bodies are coded by DNA. The 'material' we are made of, the meat, if you will, falls away from our bodies and eventually our bodies are absorbed back into the system, just as the resources the sim uses to appear on the screen return to the system when the sim is gone.

I know we like to think that we have souls, identities, but do we really? The only difference that seems to truly exist between a sim and a human being is that, unlike a sim, a human being is able to contemplate the program and wonder why she is in it.

These themes (themes of potential non existence, not the Sims 3), have been visited by countless philosophers over thousands of years, a fact, which in itself lends some credence to the theory that we all may be permutations of the same code, no more special than the snowflakes that fall and melt away to become the rivers, the oceans, the rain. You could say that there is no such thing as a human soul or even a human being in the sense that we experience it. We are often lead to believe that we have some solid metaphysical existence. But what evidence is there for such a thing? Is it not simply wishful thinking? Is it not simply the self defense of a mind that perceives the banal horror of existing in the simulation?

Perhaps, perhaps not. But it is certainly an interesting thought experiment. What is it that makes us, us? From whence comes the sense of eternity that comforts the human in her or his darkest hours? Is it a reflection of some reality beyond the simulation, or is it merely the hope of the slowly decaying semi-electronic meat puppet?


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)