If I asked you this, would you believe me? Try doing so, because it’s the truth. And also, in this strange and perverse world, young people are busy killing each other at an alarming rate. Do we really need something like a pseudo Mafia causing the same sorts of problems? Gangsterism, in other words, on our children’s beloved video games? According to Wikipedia, the Web’s foremost online encyclopedia, ever since 9/11 the FBI hasn’t had much in time or resources to handle organized crime, and there has been a sudden resurgence in its activities. Right now, the online game “The Sims Online”-- which is labeled a “T for Teens” game -- has been overrun by several obviously Mafia named “families.” These people don’t seem to have enough imagination to be Mexican Mafia, Chinese Mafia or Japanese Mafia (yet), which also exist in real life. They are very aggressive and very obvious. Whether or not they are the real Mafia is a question which I cannot answer.
They may be a bunch of “errant” teenage boys and girls – but ones with some very eclectic adult tastes and also many violent and weird high tech tendencies. You should see the Playboy style icons they paste on top of their houses from certain views of the TSO video game. And one thing these kids, if they are kids, really do, even though it is to virtual and not real houses: they trash people’s paid-for beautiful properties. The kind of properties that people would like to build, taking a lifetime to achieve. Beautiful, sprawling mansions you can’t own in real life, the kind that are totally out of reach for the vast majority of people.
And no one could tell if it was part of the game, or something far worse. I am so tired, I don’t know. Values are very hard to gauge in life, anyway. To “green up” on The Sims Online at all, or to keep your simulated character going, you must do interactions that are similar to having sex with animals (wrestle with your dog, but you should see what it looks like if you really see it) and that’s bad enough, but rather bearable. Sigmund Freud would have told us that such behavior is relatively normal, that having an “orgy session” involving “heavy petting” with your own puppy where it loves you and licks your face and you are all over each other, is fun. Also, there is sexy dancing, heavy kissing and hugging, and so forth, which works for most people -- including twelve year old kids. This is done with your fellow “characters,” real life people in the game whom you can become acquainted with, work with, and even “marry.” The marriages are not legal of course, and tend to dissolve fairly quickly.
Meanwhile, your town is crawling with “De Corleoni Territori,” the “Italian Mafia Empire,” “The Vito Family Territory” and so forth. I am not talking Anti-Italian Defamation. I had several Italian friends on the game, whom I am now stuck missing in my daily life. I am talking about a bunch of people either acting like the Mafia, or worse yet, actually being connected with them somehow and taking over a children’s video game. Possibly, several children’s video games. Or were they involved in the first place, and is Maxis a Mafia held game company? Look at the names. Maxis, Mafia. Why doesn’t Entertainment Arts do something about the house trashing problem, for example, even though people have repeatedly complained about it? What is it exactly that they are trying to hide?
Apparently not much; you can easily find “the Mob” everywhere on that game. And their version of “the cops” does absolutely nothing at all. Meanwhile, I have talked to Maxis, and they have repeatedly claimed “we are taking care of the problem.” The game is labeled “T for Teens” and is connected with what looks like some harmless fake gambling. The money being exchanged seems to be Simoleans at first. Fake money, which you get by working at odd jobs on the game, and you may also acquire skills so you can make more of the fake money. But there are “payoffs,” and you can also buy blocks of the money on EBay, roughly $15-25 for 1 million Simoleans. I heard of one lady who blew thousands of real life dollars on this. It’s possible that the teenagers who are playing it are making money from performing vaguely illicit “sexual acts” on this game – for real money. Is this what you want your teenager to be doing? For 6-10 hours a day, five-seven days a week? Eventually, obviously, after I spent about a month on the game, it was so that the money was swiftly turning real. Okay, video addiction is bad enough, but we’re talking about Organized Crime here as well. Remember a little place called Columbine High School? What if there’s some sort of eerie connection to that sort of business? I had to join this game to find out, kind of as a lark, but I did some real exploring too. And the Mafia is in and roughly controlling every town that I’ve visited on The Sims Online, and I’ve reasonably checked them all over. Dan’s Grove, Jolly Pines, Blazing Falls, Alphaville. The Mafia is…everywhere. I have talked to these “Mafia” gentlemen and ladies, and visited their houses. They don’t have very much to do at them but the usual Sims stuff. I’m afraid they have discovered game “cheats” and, being bored, are using them to destroy other game players’ properties. And yes, I have evidence, not hard unfortunately, that they have watched people play the game from a distance. One of them knew about something he shouldn’t have known. And another friend of mine who regularly plays video games has noticed these tendencies toward having strange “game powers” that other players don’t have in yet other video games. He says it’s pretty common. Hackers, he calls it, but in the TSO case, it’s hitting a little too close to home. For example, a gay bashing was set up right in front of me. I rode it out, but I had to comfort the “gay” being bashed. Of course, it was his simulated character, not “he” who was hurt. TSO is real people playing games. I’m not gay, but it was getting a little peculiar that such stuff is allowable on a “T for Teens” video game. I was more than a little confused. A “lady” in fun fired a game Civil War cannon at me, in private, and this Mafia guy named “Riccardo” knew that it had happened. I don’t think she told him about it. How did he know? She did it just for laughs, and it was a harmless game event (I peed my pants as the game character, and it seemed okay), but it’s not very funny that he knew about it. I didn’t exactly care, and it was sort of humorous. He couldn’t have known about it unless he’d seen it happen, in all probability. And he wasn’t anywhere on the property or onscreen at the time. He had a private view of it going on. The same Mafia dude, who kept denying he was Mafia -- while dressed in an obvious game-style Mafia suit and with the name “Riccardo” -- also told me you can’t trash houses unless you’re a roommate or the home owner. This should indeed be the case; it involves “building permissions.” But one of the house trashing victims had no roommates whatsoever. And she wasn’t motivated to trash her house…no insurance money is involved. Game players on this game can be quite friendly. I made a lot of good friends doing things like making pizzas, opening up my own skills house business, doing minor gambling (legal for adults and I’m over 40) and in general -- partying. You can play high tech, beautiful looking musical instruments and feel like you’re there. It’s a great game. You should see some of the wild and crazy characters on this game! Or should you? Except that I can’t play it anymore. I quit the game solely because of the extremely heavy Mafia presence that was starting to visit my house and breathe hotly down my neck. That, and the game was cutting into my work routine as a full-time writer quite a little bit, too. First, “Riccardo” showed up. Out of nowhere, after I had used the Maxis device to screen all apparent “Mafia” members out of my “house.” He showed up at my house. The same day my friend’s house was trashed. It was the second such trashing since I had started playing there. Obvious Mafia guy, obviously scouting me. Denied everything completely. This was after two of my friends’ houses had been trashed. Want to know anything about terrorism? Now I know what it is. A little too thoroughly for my tastes. The Mob was making it obvious that I could be next. Why is that exactly? And what sort of “next” would it be—real, or simulated game activity? These people looked capable of tracking down my actual computer’s IP address, my ISP -- and finally, my real life house. And all I could do was flee. I quit playing the game for good. I don’t feel much like a serious game player after that. I feel rather like an inebriated cipher. “Yeah, they’re just a bunch of teenagers who like to trash houses…” “They’re not the real Mafia, they’re just kids.” I heard a lot of that from people both on and off the game, even my fellow writers. Harmless kids. Like the ones at Columbine? That bunch even called themselves “The Trench Coat Mafia.” What’s with this strange fascination of teenage kids with the Mob? Does gangsta rap, or something even worse, have anything to do with it? The Sims Online is conceivably the haven for a slinking beast with no better name than the Neo Mafia: “My New Family.” And for the last time, if you’re Italian, I am not picking on you. I’m worried about you instead. And do you need to be affiliated with these mysterious strangers, who maybe think all organized crime is still from Italy? Are you, like me, a parent? Ma fia? Neo ma fia… Yes, parents, that is what it means in Italian-American. My new family. Still feel comfortable with the concept? “Trust me. I’m only Italian. I’m not a Mafia member. You must be a bigot. It’s because my skin is brown. Yadayadayaday.” You can be whatever skin color you want to be on TSO, and either sex for that matter. Everybody kept going, “It’s only kids, calm down, and it’s only kids.” Yeah, pretty old kids. Maybe I was a fool for ever playing that game. I assumed it was just a game, and someone was being silly about the Mafia on it. Later, I found a very professional looking website dedicated to The Sims Mafia. “Don’t enter here if you’re under thirteen” is a quote from it. Maxis is doing nothing whatsoever to stop these people, which is getting to be sickeningly obvious. I’m sure that if this story is ever widely promoted, people will join The Sims Online (TSO) after having read it. It’s an extremely download, a free two week trial, $10 per month and bam, you’re in it. News items like the War belittle this pretty much. But that’s somebody else’s problem. The Federal Bureau of Investigation should be looking into at least our nation’s video games. You can buy money on EBay to sell on that TSO game, kids are on that game, and they are being threatened into being recruited into the, I would assume, mostly “swarthy white people Mafia”…right now…since they keep mentioning the Italian one so much… …the real one or the virtual one? Who knows?