The Demoman: Virtual Families

With over a million people buying The Sims 3 in its first week in release, I'm feeling a little left out. Is there no free demo in which The Demoman can take control of computerized people and ruin their lives? The demo of Virtual Families, a casual family simulator by Last Day of Work, may be just the ticket, as its first words promise, or perhaps warn: "There are so many needy little people living in your computer."

The demo offers me a selection of needy, randomly generated characters, and I finally settle on a tiny woman who seems suitable for having her life destroyed. I name her Bambi and move her into a house, where I learn to "train" her, a fairly simple procedure involving two colored gloves. If she's doing something I don't approve of, I can whack her with a red glove as punishment. If I'm satisfied with what she's doing, I can hit her with a green glove as a reward. Either way, it's a slap-based interface, same as all healthy households.

Bambi, my itty bitty professional. She should really raise her rates.

I can also pick Bambi up and drag her around the house to make her perform various menial tasks. I instruct her to pick up some trash on the floor, some sort of colorful "wrappers" that are lying in the hallways and bedroom for some reason. As she's slowly throwing away these mysterious wrappers, one at a time, she's interrupted by a couple e-mails, one from some guy proposing marriage, which seems strange, and another from something called the "Professional Association" which pays her money without explicitly stating why. Which seems even stranger. I take a moment to check out the demo's store menu, where you can buy stuff for your characters in the full version of the game, and notice that antibiotics and penicillin are a few of the items for sale.

Waaaait a minute. Penicillin. Amorous requests from strange men. Floor littered with colorful "wrappers". Payments from the suspiciously named "Professional Association." Open-hand slapping. This is no family simulator. This is a prostitution simulator. My tiny character is a tiny hooker.

Well, I suppose if Bambi is a hooker, that makes me her pimp. Guess I'd better get down to business. I accept a "marriage proposal" from a male Sim... er, Virt, named Fargico, who shows up at the front door moments later, wearing no shoes. I know Bambi is a hooker and it's a sure thing you're going to score, but still, put in a little effort, willya? I change his name to "John" for perhaps obvious reasons, and watch as he wanders around into the laundry room and starts exercising. Since he's paying by the hour, I help him get the show on the road. Demonstrating my business-first pimp attitude, I pick him up by his neck, and drop him directly onto Bambi.

As Bambi's pimp, half of that eight dollars is mine.

They get the idea. Bambi and John walk into the bedroom, where Bambi sprinkles rose petals on the bed in what I assume is her signature move. The following fornication is politely described as "Trying to make a baby", and I'm horrified to discover that's exactly what it is when an infant suddenly appears in Bambi's arms. This is a terrible career move for Bambi, and it doesn't help that she won't put the baby down no matter what she's doing, be that tinkling noisily in the bathroom or putting food into the oven. That kid, if he survives, is gonna have issues.

John, to his credit, is trying to do right by Bambi: he won't leave her to raise this kid on her own. He hangs around the house, watching TV, repeatedly washing his hair in the bathroom sink, and doing exercises in the laundry room. As Bambi's pimp, I'm pretty unhappy about this: the baby is gonna drive away business but having this clingy dude hanging around obsessing over his hair isn't gonna help either. Maybe I can get rid of him.

The game is content to play itself, so here I'm watching TV and checking the sports page.

To remind John that his wife is a hooker, I make him clean up all those colorful "wrappers" lying around, hoping he'll get the message. No dice -- while he does start getting depressed, the demo gives me an achievement for picking up the garbage and John is shortly back in the bathroom working on his hair again. I drag him out to the driveway and slap the shit out of him with the red glove. While he runs away from my vicious pimp-slapping, he does eventually return to the house. I give up.

Apart from the watching little people putter aimlessly around a house for hours, there's not much else going on in this demo. You don't even need to watch, in fact: walk away, turn it off, play something that's actually fun, and the game will continue playing without you. Good to know, because I turned it off and never turned it back on.

Download the Virtual Families demo on FileShack.