I still think about: Alice and Kev

Alice and Kev was a blog project by Robin Burkinshaw in 2009 to use the Sims 3, a game primarily about obtaining happiness through success and materialism, to portray a homeless family.  The father (Kev) and the daughter (Alice) both started in a “home” built to be an abandoned lot with none of the basic amenities.

The blog took a while to find its voice, but ultimately it turned into a captivating tale built from a gameplay challenge combined with empathy for a group of people that society generally ignores.  It in turn, spawned a challenge of it’s own – but that’s not why I keep thinking about it.

Ultimately there’s two ways to play an Alice and Kev game, there’s the game like approach of trying to “succeed” in the Sims 3 Challenge – which can easily be derailed by the game itself with mods, knowledge of the game mechanics or random chance.

(The playthrough is btw, adorable and I really recommend checking out the chaos that occurs in ModdestSimmer‘s game)

The other way, which is how Robin played, is to use the game which was designed for vicariously living out success and/or drama, to explore what sort of decisions the homeless might find themselves such as stealing apples out of a yard to avoid starving, trying to talk strangers into providing much needed assistance and Kev’s never ending quest for validation from anyone he happens to come across – be they Alice, strangers or ghosts.

This, juxtaposed against the Sims general background of unlimited conventional “success” created a sort of contrast that isn’t really seen outside of games, with the exception of Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor.  It’s something that was and still is sorely needed in games as the medium grows (and hopefully matures).

Most games in most genres allow for you to go to a path of incredible success, or if they’re not intended to people will find a way to spin it (often in record time), there’s very little focus on ever considering engaging with the opposite.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *