Ruth's Story - Imagined Lives

Imagined Lives

A Story by Ruth Hobbis

I’ve loved stories for as long as I can remember. My mom was a librarian when I was growing up and so my first encounter with stories was naturally through books, but I soon discovered that stories are everywhere – in movies and television, art, design, and gaming.

My official induction into the world of gaming began in 2000 when my family got our first computer. I was eight years old at the time and remember thinking that the huge, chunky monitor was the height of technology. Not long after we got our first computer, friends of mine introduced me to The Sims, which I will go on to credit for my love of simulation and role-playing games. After begging my parents to buy it for me, I would sometimes play for up to eight hours a day. Having recently bought Sims 4, I’ll admit that not much has changed! I would go through my mom’s address book and write out long lists of potential names for my Sims and, if I was away from my computer for long periods of time, I’d sometimes map out the families I wanted to make on paper.

What I love most about The Sims is that it allows me to explore and create. I have always been fascinated by people and I often find myself daydreaming about the imagined lives of strangers on the subway. As a child, I learned to absorb everything around me. People’s characteristics and the snippets of conversation I’d store away would later inspire the little stories I wrote. By playing The Sims, I can bring characters and plot lines to life.

The Sims and similar role-playing and simulation games have not only allowed me to explore different people, but also different aspects of myself. A few years after my family got our first computer, we immigrated to Canada from England. When I later read Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Less Traveled,” I connected with the lines, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – / I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference.” While I love living in Canada, I often wonder how my life would have been different had we stayed in England. As I got older I struggled to decide what to study at university and what kinds of jobs I wanted, as each choice seemed to shut as many doors as it opened. While I have chosen my path and may never become a professional chef in real life, I can explore this and many other interests through gaming. I can play a cooking game like Diner Dash or Papa’s Pizzeria and I can even perform simulation surgery if I want to! An introvert in real life, through video game characters, I can try on different hats, be outgoing and gregarious. The possibilities are endless when they aren’t limited by the practicalities of life.

All these possibilities also mean that there are limitless story lines for me to create. My Sims might meet someone, fall in love, and start a family or they might become the top in their career, be a free-spirited traveler, or even be abducted by aliens! Gaming gives me a medium to explore my creativity and expand my imagination. As I reflect now on the things I enjoyed doing most as a child – playing games and dreaming up stories – it’s no surprise that I went on to study psychology and become a writer.

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