Since the day the first Sims game was launched, virtual architects have been using its built-in construction tools to create exotic and bizarre monuments ranging from heart-shaped islands to a mansion made entirely out of stacked trailer homes. With the same tenacious ambition but with a stated purpose to do "terrible things," Reddit user BourgeoisBanana presented a project earlier this week of a more sensitive nature: the Gaudet Plantation, a lush colonial farmstead complete with slave workers and affluent white owners. But is it actually a terrible thing to explore the darker periods of history?
On a whim, BourgeoisBanana set out to see how closely he could recreate the living conditions of both slave and owner on a plantation. "I'm a large history and architecture buff, and The Sims is a great outlet for both of those, despite getting a lot of flak for being a 'casual' game," he told PC Gamer. "Being British, the colonial era is of particular interest of mine, and after seeing Django Unchained, the idea sort of came to me. I had the day off, so I thought, 'Why not?'"
A small pile of mods were used to design and model both the slave quarters and mansion. The mods set parameters for reflecting the quality of life (or lack thereof) for the slaves, locking them out from the main building and tweaking the AI to stuff in more Sims per house.
"The general layout of the plantation was of my own design, and several people pointed out that it wasn't entirely historically accurate, but given the tools I think I did the best I could," BourgeoisBanana explained. "The house was more or less of my own design too, loosely based off several colonial plantation houses of the era. My main inspiration for the exterior was the plantation house from a level in Hitman: Blood Money. Django Unchained certainly was a great reference too."
BourgeoisBanana recognizes how his creation's stark depiction of racism doesn't exactly mesh with the game's cheerful suburban innocence. He hopes for a future where more games and gamers explore all facets of history, even where doing so may make us uncomfortable. "I believe that to deny our history is to make it repeatable, and discouraging projects such as this one won't prevent racism in the least," he said. "Not only gamers, but all forms of media should definitely get over this politically correct phase we seem to be going through so we can expose the brutality of our past, rather than covering it up and pretending it never happened."
So, is it really a terrible thing? As the plantation's creator touched upon, ignoring our past mistakes with civil rights won't make them simply disappear. Thus, why shouldn't we reconstruct terrible events from history? If not for the goal of sending a message, then just as a way to satisfy curiosity? How would an in-game replication of a slave ship, for example, look like using Minecraft blocks? Let's hear your thoughts in the comments.
Gaudet Plantation mansion 1st floor
Gaudet Plantation mansion attic
Gaudet Plantation mansion ground floor
Gaudet Plantation slave quarters