Deus ex machina

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Few of us, it would seem, can resist the temptation to play God, even if it is only one a computer. The Sims has become the best selling PC game ever, shipping 6.3 million copies only two years after its release.

Few of us, it would seem, can resist the temptation to play God, even if it is only one a computer. The Sims has become the best selling PC game ever, shipping 6.3 million copies only two years after its release.

For Sims addicts, nurturing families of Sims is more important than building relationships with their own families, and, shocking to think, can even takes precedence over favourite soap stars. They cannot, it appears, get enough of artificial life.

It is easy to see the attraction. Unless we're Peter Mandelson or Jo Moore, we cannot manipulate real people's emotions and actions; the Sims, of course, are much more pliable. Except that, as in the forerunner game SimCity, the assumptions built into the programming are distinctly free-market, indeed materialist. SimCity, as players soon discover, rarely thrives on income-tax rates in excess of 5 per cent; the Sims like to have big televisions, new mobile phones and plenty of other gadgets.

The gap in the market, then, is clear; socialist SimCity and the Third Way Sims with programmed communitarian tendencies, a civilisation of people like Mr Blair. Our mice can't wait.

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