Whether you're a family of one or your family tree is heavy with branches, create a virtual family to give yourself that many more relations. Unlike a regular family who may drop in to visit unannounced, offer strange birthday presents or pass on weird family characteristics, a virtual family is yours to grow, cherish and interact with on your own time. With just a computer and a little bit of time, mold yourself a new clan.
How to Create a Virtual Family
Just as is it possible to do everything from ordering groceries to finding a real-life mate on the computer, you're able to create a virtual family online through simulation games, or sims. Give yourself three baby brothers, a doting aunt and uncle, or a new mom and dad. Add two dads to the family tree or keep it small with just one new older sister. When you create family members, sites let you choose many different characteristics, such as gender, skin and eye color, personality, occupation, hobbies, style of dress, body size and ethnicity. Each sim leads you through creating your character step-by-step. There are a couple of places online where you can create your very own virtual family.
One game, The Sims, promises more than one million Sims character configuration options, along with neighborhoods and homes to build. While you can play The Sims offline, the game also offers the opportunity to interact with and actually play with other Sims family creators online. Extra extension packs are available, such as "Ambitions," where you choose your family members' career paths (such as firefighting, tattoo artist or architect) and help them make on-the-job decisions. You'll also be able to deck out your Sims family with flashy vehicles and accessories for their homes with "Fast Lane Stuff," the game's add-on package including rockabilly clothing, race cars and large garages.
Another simulation game, Virtual Families, offers thousands of character combinations and personalities you control by offering compliments or admonishment. While playing the Virtual Families game, you're able to help your family members meet significant others, build houses and get jobs. You can even control the family's time of day and weather to match your own, plus schedule "catastrophic" events such as storms and serious illnesses. While playing Virtual Families, you're able to make characters perform yard maintenance, eat, go to work, take care of children and turn on appliances.
Costs of a Virtual Family
While real families require food, shelter, healthcare and other items, the basic virtual family lives on nothing but attention from you. If you've already got an Internet connection and computer, you have everything you need to start a family. Computer games offering virtual families may be available for free through trials, online or for purchase to play offline. Extension packs in games such as The Sims (there are no extension packs for Virtual Families) are an additional expense, but may be available through game-sharing websites and DVD gaming subscription sites.
Warnings About Virtual Families
In real life, families may fight or get upset with each other. Because you control your virtual family, this won't be an issue. In some cases, opponents of virtual families have cited that creating a virtual family can take away from the seriousness of a real family and that people who create virtual families may spend more time with them than their real families. You may wish to start out setting a time limit with the number of hours you spend with your virtual family, such as one hour a day for the first week. Just enough to check in, change virtual family members' outfits or make any updates to their personalities.