Sims and Social Space

Obviously, video games’ diegetic space influences the way we interact with the game world, but author Charles Paulk argues that game space also alters the way we interact with the real world.  After extensive description of The Sims, Paulk links current interior design trends with the game’s popularity.  He argues that the game heightens the player’s awareness of their surroundings since it requires the player to pay close attention to the how small aesthetic details alter their Sims’ moods.

In addition, the game’s structure assumes that “modern objects comprise a sign system, and like linguistic signs, they only acquire meaning in relation to one another.”  Thus, “the project of “man the interior designer” is to assert his place in the social order via strategic manipulation of these signs.”  The game subtlely, constantly reinforces the idea that the “skillful arrangement of objects” as well as “owning the right objects” not only creates happiness but also increases social status.  As the parallel trends between The Sim’s popularity and home improvement stores’ profits suggest, this value system has trickled into real life, resulting in an incredibly design-conscious culture.  As Jean Baudrillard notices, “we are beginning to see what the new model of the home-dweller looks like: ‘man the interior designer’ is neither an owner nor a mere user-rather, he is an active engineer of atmosphere.”

However, Paulk also realizes that several factors, including the popular TV show Trading Spaces, have worked together to bring about this cultural shift.  As a frequent blogger, I would add that the huge spike in design blogs as well as websites (tumblr, pinterest) devoted to efficiently re-blogging have encouraged people to develop personal taste and to see their “life spaces” as extensions and reflections of their personalities.

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