Disclaimer: I obtained the photos from a variety of sources. I do not claim ownership over any of them.
My very first exposure to Shakespeare was probably around 2005, when I was a clueless 2nd grader who started obsessing over The Sims 2. Back then, I had no idea that the very first family I played with, and the entire neighborhood of Veronaville, was inspired by Shakespeare’s most famous and recognized play.
Looking back at the entire neighborhood now, after almost 10 years, it’s quite surprising to see and realize just how many allusions there are to Shakespeare that I missed or paid no attention to at all despite having played the game for more than half of my life. Here are some of them:
A. The Neighborhood
The fictional neighborhood of Veronaville is one of the three pre-made neighborhoods in The Sims 2 base game. Its name is derived from the City of Verona, where Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers meet, fall in love and eventually perish. As seen in the photo above, the neighborhood is divided into two areas by a narrow body of water. These two areas have very distinct looks and architectural styles; the area on the right is the “Italian” side, with Mediterranean-style houses reminiscent of the architecture in Verona while the area on the left is the “English” side, inspired by Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon.
On the left: A pre-made house in the “English” side of Veronaville; On the right: Stratford-upon-Avon
On the left: A pre-made house in the “Italian” side of Veronaville; On the right: Verona
Even the names of the streets and houses in the neighborhood are references to Shakespeare and his plays. Some examples are: 267 Avon Avenue, 28 Bard Boulevard, 5 Pentameter Parkway and 50 Poet Place.
B. The People
The divide in the neighborhood is fitting of the divide between the two prominent families in Veronaville: The Capps and the Montys.
The Capp Family (left-right): Hermia Capp, Tybalt Capp, Consort Capp and Juliette Capp
The Capp family, representing the Capulets, has 13 living members who are all inspired by a variety of Shakespearean elements. It is an extended family that is divided into 3 smaller families, the most important being the one pictured above. The family is composed of Hermia (the main character from A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Tybalt (Juliet’s cousin in Romeo and Juliet), Consort (meaning the spouse of a reigning monarch) and Juliette (Juliet from Romeo and Juliet).
The Monty Family (left-right): Romeo Monty, Mercutio Monty, Patrizio Monty and Isabella Monty.
The rival family of the Capps are the Montys, representing the Montague family. The Monty family, like the Capp family, is an extended family that is slightly smaller than the Capps. They have 8 living members divided into 3 smaller, nuclear families. The one pictured above is composed of Patrizio (a spoof of the Montague patriarch), Isabella (main character from Measure for Measure), Romeo (Romeo from Romeo and Juliet) and Mercutio (Romeo’s friend from Romeo and Juliet).
The Summerdream family (left-right): Oberon Summerdream, Bottom Summerdream, Puck Summerdream and Titania Summerdream.
The third main family in Veronaville is the Summerdream family, whose members are all derived from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The family is composed of Titania (Titania, Queen of Fairies), Oberon (Oberon, King of Fairies), Bottom (Nick Bottom) and Puck (Puck/Robin Goodfellow). The Summerdreams, except for Bottom, are all dressed in outrageous clothing and makeup, perhaps an allusion to the fantastic and comedic elements of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
C. The Story
As in Romeo and Juliet, the history of Veronaville is rooted in the conflict of the two feuding families. As the player enters the neighborhood, the game presents the following narrative:
“Patrizio Monty never forgot Consort Capp’s broken promise. But now his grandson Romeo has fallen for the Capp heiress. Will the Elders live to see the two families united?”
“Juliette Capp has fallen for Romeo, golden child of the rival Monty clan. Can the Capps set aside their grudge and put Juliette’s happiness first?”
Despite changes in some names, relationships and the addition of characters from Shakespeare’s other works, the conflict that is at the heart of Romeo and Juliet is almost exactly transposed in the game.
“The Capps and Montys have been feuding for years, but that hasn’t stopped the younger generation from crossing boundaries and falling in love. Will their actions lead to ruin or bring the families together?”
I’m a self-proclaimed superfan of The Sims 2. Like I said, It’s a game that I’ve loved for more than half of my life. Despite all the changes I’ve gone through in the past 10 years from when I started playing it, to this day, it’s still my most favorite game of all time.
What most people don’t realize and appreciate about this game is that it’s one of the few games that allows its players to be as creative as possible. It has no predestined ending; the game can literally go on forever. That’s why after taking this class and hearing about the many literary incarnations of Shakespeare, transposing the story of Romeo and Juliet to a game like The Sims 2 is perhaps one of the most inventive transformations of Shakespeare because it frees the players and readers from the finality of a play, novel or movie. It will allow the millions of Romeo and Juliet fans to finally control their narrative; to concoct a happier or perhaps an even more gruesome ending to the star-crossed lovers.
“Capp Family.” The Sims 2 Wiki. n.p., n.d. Web. 15 November 2015.
“Monty Family.” The Sims 2 Wiki. n.p., n.d. Web. 15 November 2015.
“Summerdream Family.” The Sims 2 Wiki. n.p., n.d. Web. 15 November 2015.
“Veronaville.” The Sims 2 Wiki. n.p., n.d. Web. 15 November 2015.
I apologize for citing only wikipedia pages but it is the most The Sims 2 Wikia is the comprehensive source when looking for anything Sims related.