Monday, August 22, 2011

Sexual Networking

...or why you should not friend your students on facebook.

I have a rule: no current students as friends on facebook. Yesterday I realised one of the more practical reasons why that should remain so. That reason was a game called The Sims Social.

This is a Facebook game based on the ridiculously popular game, The Sims. Personally, I hate the standard Sims game with a passion because all I have seen when playing it is confirmation that life sucks. You have to sleep, eat, wash, tidy, play, work and socialise ... but you can only do four or five of them. Which one are you going to sacrifice? Yeah, it sucks. Sims Social removes some of that (at the moment) and rotates around the standard FB game tropes of skills, quests and home building. However, it has another nuance and thats the hotwiring of relationships into the game.

When you visit your neighbours, one of the parts of the game is changing your relationships with them. You start as acquaintances, and then become friends and then best friends and beyond. To do this you undertake social interactions with their avatar. Some of them are purely social - chit chat, shoot the breeze, gossip, tell a story etc. However, you can also flirt with them - compliment their appearance, give them flowers and offer them a romantic kiss. Do these things enough and you get to 'the next level'. Eventually you can start dating them and consummate your love with whoopee in the shower. Together.

OK, thats fine you think ... after all, your neighbours cannot tell which actions you have been doing. Oh really? Well, to progress to the next level of 'friendliness' you have to ask the permission of your neighbour. Look at your friends list? Who do YOU feel comfortable sending the message 'Hey, I'd like my avatar in a computer game to start dating your avatar in a computer game and possibly get shagged in the shower?'. Add to that, that every person I know in the game has made a character that looks like them (well, mine is Sims-Skinny rather than RL-Fat) and you are doing the hootchie-hootchie purposefully with someone who represents someone in real life. What will be the reaction of your RL SO when they discover that you have an in-game girlfriend ... or boyfriend!

If find that quite strange. Creepy even. And definitely something that you shouldn't be doing with say, your ex-girlfriend, an ex-student or your teenage daughter's best friend....!

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