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My, how SimTime does fly (or not fly)

By Wren Weburg
1/7/99

A clockHave you ever noticed how time seems to disappear whenever you get near anything related to SimCity? For example, you may find that all of the sudden, it's 1:00 am, and you're still surfing the Web for the latest SimCity gossip. Or here's a classic case: remember back when you were playing SimCity and SimCity 2000, how the hours just seemed to disappear faster than your city's funds? Where did those hours go?

If any of this applies to you, you're a victim of SimTime Syndrome (STS), a condition in which time rapidly accelerates when your mind is focused on anything SimCity. The symptoms of SimTime Syndrome include loss of sleep, hunger, lack of productivity at work (SimCity always shows up on work machines), and hallucinations of llamas. Long-term effects, which show up in the most severe cases, include divorce, loss of one's job, and lower grades at school.

The very proof that SimTime Syndrome exists can be found by looking at any SimCity suggestion list, in which SimCity players make suggestions for the next big version of the game. In virtually every suggestion list, you will find the suggestion that a clock be built into SimCity's interface. This is, of course, so that SimMayors can keep track of the time that they spend playing SimCity. Some suggestions have even gone so far as to suggest an alarm, so that the player knows when to stop playing. This would tell the player when to go to bed (or to wake up in severe cases), make dinner, or perform other routine functions--tasks that would otherwise be neglected. Alas, Maxis, the makers of SimCity, never listens to those suggestions. They are content to just let SimTime fly by for the player, with little regard for the player's social or professional life.

Fortunately, there is a cure. However, it is very painful: you must abstain from anything related to SimCity. This means no surfing SimCity Web sites, no playing SimCity games, and no thinking about SimCity. Indeed these are drastic measures, but it's the only way to slow time down so that you can actually get some productive work done, such as homework, meeting a work deadline, or filing your taxes.

There is one period of time where the aforementioned effects of SimTime syndrome are actually reversed. This is the time period that occurs before the release of the next anticipated installment of a SimCity game. Time actually slows down in this situation, causing the player just as much--if not more--distress. The symptoms during this period include anxiety, helplessness, and even mild depression. To the dismay of sufferers, there really is no thoroughly tested treatment for these symptoms, although doctors advise to get plenty of rest and exercise.

SimCity Classic LiveRecently, however, doctors have found that playing older SimCity games can help relieve the symptoms, at least temporarily. A new, experimental treatment has shown that patients can partially relieve their pre-release anxieties by playing SimCity Classic right from their Web browsers over at a site called simcity.com.

Unfortunately, this new treatment brings us to the same problem we had in the first place.


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