Simulacrumception Life #1

"This isn't brilliance, it's narcissism." I thought, as I embarked upon my first foray into Tomodachi Life, a Nintendo 3DS  game with a summer 2014 release for the Western world.  But I was not condemning the game, though maybe I should have considering it is basically a video vignette game of socialization on the most banal level.  No, I was actually referring to the premise of my particular island, Simulacrum Island.
The idea behind Simulacrum Island is inherited from the one discussed in the above video: historical figures differ from the reality because history does not want or need the real individual, but rather an abstract idea of these individuals that serve some sort of ideal: a simulacrum of the individual.  The definition of that word:
1. a slight, unreal, or superficial likeness or semblance.
2. an effigy, image, or representation
Here's where the narcissism enters the picture: why would I ever populate my Tomodachi Life island with Miis of my friends and family when I could go into far better established simulacrum forged by Western society?  The simulacrums in this game will be based on the simulacrums of life!
http://membean.com/exemplars/simulacrum
To these ends, I started with the Business Insider's list of the most important people in history, and interleaved this with an about.com most important women in history list in the name of gender equality.   I decided to institute a few more rules:
  • If I have a similar concept behind the person's fame as one that was already added, skip them.  Sorry, the first U.S. president is the only one that gets added.  The same goes for first philosopher, first classical musician, and so on.  I only have the space for so many Miis here, I need a greater variety of archetypes.
  • If a historical figure has not reverberated strongly with me, personally, I skip them.  Individual mileage will vary, but this is my copy of the game, and I have to be able to feel a sense of identify with the characters included it.  Emily Dickinson, I'm sure your work was fantastic, but I would not be able to pick you out from the other Miis wandering around my island.  SKIP!
  • Because the game insists I put in a birthdate of the 1900s onwards, if the person has died, then I take their age of death and subtract it from the preceding year (since it is still relatively early into 2015).  They will literally live on in this game... as simulacrums of simulacrums, of course.  Birthdates are actually pretty important in this game and, ironically, I will have a much easier time finding the birth dates of these total strangers than you likely would for most of the people you know.
Of course, because the game insists, character number one is a look-alike of me.  So Simulacrum Island is a simulation of me hanging out with the most influential people in human history: narcissistic enough for you?!
 But how does Tomodachi Life actually play?  Honestly, it has so little substance to it that words
give it injustice instead of justice.  Here, watch Martyn from Yogscast play it if you're curious.

But again, the point is not that I have that high of an opinion of myself.  The point is that this is all about the simulacrum, the slight, unreal, superficial likeness or semblance of individuals that is centric to the concept of Miis and this whole Tomodachi Life drive.  So there's a sliver of brilliance to it... it is just hard to tell if that or the narcissism is the greater influence here.

Who made the list so far?  I started on the top of those lists and went down.
  • Madonna - A singer and sex object, I am actually kind of disappointed she's number one on the about.com list of most influential women.  Was this list written by men?  Actually, it was probably based on most popular Google hits.  Anyway, her simulacrum has mostly acted like she is on vacation, engaging in a great deal of hobnobbing, and I made sure to provide her with the most glamorous of clothing and accommodations because she's a star, baby!
  • Jesus Christ - Founder of the Christian faith, and number one on Business Insider's list.  Unsurprisingly, he's the most popular guy on the island!  Madonna asked if I thought it would be a good idea to start dating him... I don't think that's how Jesus works.
  • Cleopatra - Egypt's most infamous ruler.  She's a pretty chill Mii, despite her snappy, serious demeanor.  I like her.
  • Napoleon - France's greatest conqueror ended up with pretty warped voice modulation.  I gave him a bit of kid-o-matic spray and he sure enjoyed his second youth, splashing in puddles, building couch forts... it sure beats dying exiled of stomach cancer!
  • Anne Frank - Judging by her thinkexist quote page, this simulacrum is an adorable Pollyanna whose bright personality really brings a touch of happiness to the island.  Goodness, whatever did this delightful girl do by the age of 15 to earn her place as the number 4 on the top 100 women of history in the about.com list?  Lets look it up... oh... oh.  I have to say, this is my favorite Mii on the island, as she's adorable and  nearly everything she does carries an element of tragedy.  For example, as an easygoing dreamer personality, she goes on and on about how much she looks forward to the future.  (Jesus once asked me if he should upgrade his friendly relationship with Anne Frank to become best friends.  Sorry, Jesus, I think she's waiting for somebody else.)
  • William Shakespeare - This being a Japanese game, there was simply no room to fit Shakespeare in the nickname field, but "The Bard" fit.  So far, he's doing a remarkably good job staying to himself, avoiding this madness that is Tomodachi Life.  I stuffed him in a lion suit because it was the closest thing I could to simulate his capacity to evoke fantastic imagery on stage.  Whatever you do, don't give him steak, oh god, The Bard HATES steak so badly it causes him to melt into a pool of black viscous fluid.  He would probably have something pretty flowery to say about the horror of steak, but I can't enter phrases of longer than 16 characters, good luck finding even the most rudimentary of Shakespearian quotes that will fit into that!
  • Diana, Princess of Wales - Her British beauty translates surprisingly well to the blocky parts of Nintendo Miis.  She seems content, there's no paparazzi on Stimulacrum island... unless you count me.  Honestly, the player in Tomodachi Life is like some kind of voyeur that all the Miis are alright with because he's also the one that lavishes everyone with food, clothing, and other gifts.  Anyway, Diana is about as chill as Cleopatra, and they're already besties.
  • Abraham Lincoln - The first U.S. president to make it to into the game means he's the last one as well.  The great emancipator is enjoying forescore and seven kinds of food and other creature comforts.  I got a really good look at his photo when making his Mii... was everybody so clearly just evolved apes in the 1800s?
  • Joan Of Arc - Sadly, without a without a suit of platemail, crusade, or a stake to burn at, Joan D'Arc's Mii is just ambiguously French.  I don't have access to a suit of platemail, I gave her a football uniform, and shortly afterward she asked for a hair accessory, which she enjoyed.  Oh well, I guess that goes to show that anything is an improvement over involvement in the Hundred Year War.
  • Adolf Hitler - Hey, don't blame me for putting him on the island, he's number seven on that list of the most important people of human history.  So far, Hitler seems to be doing alright on the island, he has not even acknowledged Anne Frank's existence, which is probably historically accurate.  Oddly enough, it seems Nintendo Mii parts include a comb over and mustache that are just perfect for simulating your very own Hitler!
  • Oprah Winfrey - In game and out, Oprah oozes charisma.  Of course, I was unable to find a Mii part that got anywhere close to simulating that hair.
Again, the point here is not that I think I can take these great figures and jam their souls into the game.  That's arrogance to an extreme.  Instead, the idea is more along the lines if these being simulacrums of simulacrums.  As such craven images, I probably treat them with more respect than they deserve, including many accessories I hope suit their character and even reassuring head rubs!

Originally I was planning on doing 23 of these figures which, including myself, was the apparent limit of Miis that the island's central apartment size has: 24.  But then I learned the apartment expands and, by the time I am done with this experiment, I will be looking at 100 Miis.  Ugh, I honestly don't know if I can endure that much Tomodachi Life, the gameplay is just so rudimentary, there's barely a sliver of depth to the formula here, even with the sum of human achievement crammed into 99 of 100 data banks.  This is a game that exists purely as a spectacle.  Yet, endure it I must, if only because it is a suitable punishment for my hubris.

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