I don’t know how many of you have played The Sims Medieval, but for the first time yesterday, I couldn’t believe what I saw in the game! (No, it wasn’t the Woo Hoo. Perverts…) It was the parallel between the Blacksmith and American society today. You see, there’s a quest where you set out to master the seven mechanical arts. I saw it and figured I’d be learning new swords, armors, and who knew what else! I was so wrong.
You start out with your smith remembering that he’d bet he could complete a complicated task from each of seven arts, and forge a badge proving he was the master of all of them. He puts some seeds in his pocket for the agricultural task later and then right away he says to himself, “I’m already a smith. Guess I just need to make the badge.” I shrug. Alright, I’ll buy it. You’re level one but sure.
So now I have a master blacksmith. Sure he hasn’t worked very hard for his badge of proof, but I can’t complain. Next he has to get to work. I approve. I get him forging and working his ass off, going without food or sleep for as long as possible and forge weapons and armor like it was nobody’s business but my own. (Technically it was.) I finish. A small pile of armor and weapons now sit in my inventory. I earned that first badge after all, I think to myself. My smith wants money. Understandable. So he takes his newly forged gear to the village shop (as per the quest) and sells it.
On leaving he laughs to himself. “That was merchant’s work! I sold stuff. Guess that makes me a Merchant too.” Okay. Yes, you double as a merchant, though just selling stuff doesn’t make you one. Another thing I’ll let slide. Alright. Then, I can’t believe my eyes!
He gets home to forge his badge and found the seeds had sprouted. He is so filthy that plants can grow in his pocket. Without sunlight. Or water. *shudder* Now I have two badges to forge. I’m calling bullshit right there. That was dumb luck. You don’t get a medal for doing nothing! Wait. This is America. Never mind, you entitled ass.
Okay, so that’s three arts down, and I’m not liking this guy’s attitude towards accomplishment. What’s next? Apparently architecture. Well, I admit I got lazy with this one myself, but you go to the king, and offer to help build something. The king, in all of his Sim wisdom just shakes his head. “You can donate tools or gold,” he says.
My smith knows he can forge tools, but I’m lazy and give him the 250 gold instead. The king smiles. “It’s as though you built it yourself!”
Well, that’s good enough for my smith. “I built a building. This certificate says so!” So now he’s a master Architect. I think to myself, I can make a certificate too! Why not make myself a master of lots of things? I’m not going to get another job otherwise. (Sorry about that. I digress.)
Okay. This next task can’t be that bad. I was wrong. Tailoring consisted of forging iron masks and giving them to people. I was willing to accept it at first until I gave one to a noble who simply said, “I have no idea what this is good for, but I’ll take it.” *sigh* Damn you American consumerism!
Master tailor: Check.
Round Six begins! This time it’s warfare. Am I going to master strategy by beating someone at chess? Checkers? Nope. I get to hunt a bear. Apparently, fighting a bear is the equivalent to fighting in a war. Now, to anyone who has actually fought in a war – not that I have – I can’t begin to tell you how wrong that is. Still, I forge the sixth badge.
Finally we get to cooking. Any sim can make soups and stews, and the more ingredients the bigger and fancier it can get. Alright. This should be easy. I stocked up on ingredients earlier, so it’s time to cook away, you lousy smith. I’ll be honest, my money was on throwing salt into gruel. (Gruel is the bare minimum they can eat to survive. No ingredients, just…gruel) Oh, how wrong I was.
Instead, I forged bear meat. *sigh* There are no words for how I felt heating up and hammering bear meat into submission. It might have been the most tender bear steak around, but still…
So there we had it. Seven accomplishments, and my smith thinks he has mastered seven arts. Honestly, there weren’t enough words for it. On completing his task, I got the option to forge them badges into a super badge, or a hammer. What I chose doesn’t really matter to be honest. What matters is what I realized from the experience.
The lack of effort and rewards for basically participating that this smith gave himself. It reminded me of kids who get participation trophies. Yes, it’s a nice gesture, but that doesn’t make them want to play harder. What about politicians who donate money to have a building (or part of one) named after themselves. They didn’t build it. It should named after a construction worker. (Or a real architect!) Unfortunately it’s something you don’t see much these days. We’re shielding ourselves from effort. School requirements for graduating high school are sloppier almost every year. Budget cuts and the fact that we’d rather be doing something else with our lives have given us just enough drive to be just enough. Like my smith, there are many students happy with a C. The only time I was ever happy with a low grade was when I knew I wasn’t doing well in a class. I earned that D+ in Calculus! Then I decided to do something I enjoyed instead of burying myself in math. Sure I decided to do something else, but I got that D+ my second time. I failed originally, but I didn’t give up until I realized I just wasn’t going to get it.
I think the words of a friend of mine exemplify American education the best. Here’s to you. “D stands for Diploma.”
Keep up the effort.