According to Will Wright, The Sims Online will be a “big experiment” for EA. I’m not sure what his hypothesis may be, but mine is “gathering large groups of anonymous people with zero repercussions of action generates anger, animosity, and cruelty to one another.” Perhaps if SimsO players become divided enough, they might consider working out their large scale problems with a few rounds of World War II Online. Merge the two titles and you might just blur the line between fantasy and reality.

Navigating a single character through the Sims world, each player will be able to design a home or find other characters to interact with using a social map called the \’e2\’80\’9cWeb of Friendships.\’e2\’80\’9d

Okay. Color me uncomfortable with that particular feature.

Players can be mean to others by berating or insulting a character. But points are deducted for bad behavior, reducing a player\’e2\’80\’99s chance of winning the popularity contest.

Where I work, we have a “curse jar” where you stick a dollar anytime you want to call somebody a shithead (Granted, it wasn’t supposed to work that way, but I found the “jar system” full of exploits). Basically, if I understand this correctly, you have to “play nice” in Sims Online if you want to earn brownie points, and because NO PLAYER CAN RESIST BROWNIE POINTS, there shouldn’t be much of a problem allowing players to ruin the “pizza party” quest. I mean, surely there wouldn’t be players whose only purpose in the game is to RUIN YOUR PIZZA PARTY QUEST. Nah – even so I’m sure such players are in the VAST MINORITY.

The open-ended nature of the game and the potential for inappropriate dialogue or role-playing already have some adult players concerned. Marion Robertson, a 38-year-old who lives in Houston, runs a Web site showcasing high-fashion Sims clothing. She says many of the visitors to her site are as young as 12 or 13 years old. She worries about their privacy and the potential for strangers to strike up dysfunctional behavior when the game moves online.

Don’t worry about it, Marion. PLAN ON IT. I seem to recall a bit of “dysfunction” existing with The Sims Off-line when players opted to share themselves (themsims?) with other members of the human race. But never fear, EA shall not tolerate such tomfoolish shenanigans.There will be \’e2\’80\’9cgame masters,\’e2\’80\’9d whose duties will include moderating game play and expelling unruly players. In addition, players will be able to defend themselves with electronic slaps or other defensive maneuvers.

Defensively slapping one another? Raise your hand if you think this feature will NOT become PART OF THE PROBLEM IT SEEKS TO REMEDY.

And for sheer chuckle factor, here’s a quote from Mr. Wright:

\’e2\’80\’9cI would prefer to come out of the gate giving players the benefit of the doubt … than come out of the gate assuming that everyone has a dark side,\’e2\’80\’9d Mr. Wright says.

I would prefer to come out of the gate saying Mr. Wright is a complete TOOL…than come out of the gate assuming that he knows what he’s talking about. Perhaps Mr. Wright should be required to play a few hours of THAT OTHER EA ONLINE TITLE before commenting further on what we can and should expect from the MMOG population.