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Shakespearean Sims

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

 Veronaville

Veronaville

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.


TudorAvon

 

 

 

      On the left: A pre-made house in the “English” side of Veronaville; On the right: Stratford-upon-Avon

VeronaItalian

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.

Capp

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).

Monty 01

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).

Summerdream

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:

MontyFamily

“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?”

TheCapps

“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.

Veronaville_story

“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.

References:

“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.

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  1. anjolimos15
    December 2, 2015 at 12:24 am

    I also was surprised by how much allusions and references to Shakespeare there was in The Sims 2’s Veronaville. I didn’t understand how clever the creators were until recently. I like that you pointed out how the game’s mechanics (which are also its strengths), mainly architecture and interior design (The Place) and controlling the Sims themselves (The People) contributes to a Shakespearean experience. It’s awesome that you also mention how the video game offers this creative possibility of changing the narrative or “ending” for Romeo and Juliet. This creative possibility is a strong trait found in video games and I think The Sims 2 does a good job of utilizing it. Cheers!

  2. mlleange1105
    December 3, 2015 at 5:57 am

    Actually, I have also noticed this when I played SIMS 2 before. I still miss it. Although I must say, I have never really appreciated the depth of Shakespearean influence in the game. I remember choosing Veronaville then because I liked how the houses looked. Also, I didn’t really notice the Summerdreams, that would have been cute. It is fascinating how Shakespeare’s stories transcend media, cultures and generations. Like this SIM 2 game, we could say that the life of Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream is passed on through this creative and interactive reincarnation, but it has also taken a life of its own, especially in how each player would have played or handled the storylines of the Montys and the Capps.

  3. kwinterfell
    December 4, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    I actually had this Sims 2, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to try out this feature of the game. I was too invested in creating a graveyard of other sims in the backyard of my sim’s house, and ghost hunting (Yes I was that type of Sims player). Though I would have to say that this is an interesting concept, though I wouldn’t be sure how this mechanic would be any different from regular gameplay, as the beauty of Sims is the player’s ability to control all the events that happen in the game. Though I get you’re point about having that initial story arch built in already, and actually reconstructing the narrative as you like it. Imagine Romeo and Juliet with a Ghost character, or Romeo and Juliet where they all die in a fire caused by a burned meal inside an over. Now those will be interesting turn of events, and something to add to the many adaptations of the Romeo and Juliet, all made by a player’s click of a button.

  4. December 13, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    I love this game. I actually played it one time and tried to re enact the events as closely to Romeo and Juliet as possible. This is actually my youngest brother’s first encounter with Shakespeare back when he was in elementary school. I had to explain the whole story to him and it was notable how he even tried to read the original and researched about Shakespeare when he was introduced to the game.
    It could be a testament how Shakespeare can reach a younger range of audience from things such as this. It was not just educational for my brother, but it was also very entertaining for us because it was a game. I also like how you can change the story and just make your own deconstructions in the game and just let Romeo and Juliet happily ever after.

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