Virtual Villagers-Mating

By Shamus
on Nov 2, 2006
Filed under:
Game Reviews

I’m thinking more about Virtual Villagers. It’s obvious that this is a cute, low-key game, with a lighthearted tone and very simple mechanics. Nevertheless, the obsessive Sim player inside of me can’t help tearing this thing apart and looking at it as an approximation of real-world behaviors. Which leads to the following observations…

One crazy aspect of the game is procreation, or (as the game puts it) breeding. You have to make them do it. If left alone, the villagers would never get busy, and would eventually die out. When you want them to reproduce, you grab one villager and drag them onto a villager of the opposite sex. They may reject the suggested union, in which case they run away from each other. This is no big deal, since it’s just based on a dice roll and you can keep trying until they click. Once they accept, they will head over to one particular hut and go inside for a few minutes. The hut is very small, but can be used by any number of couples at the same time. For some reason, they leave the door open. (Not that you can see in, it’s all black inside, but still.)

Virtual Villagers
To the left is the “research table”. On the right is the food bin. Just above that is the nookie hut, with the door that never closes.

If a pregancy ensues, the female will walk back out with a baby in her arms (if only it were that easy!) and will spend the next two years (about two hours of game time) caring for the child, unable to do any other work.

One odd thing about this is that neither gender will breed before age 18. Now, I understand why nobody would want to make a game that portrays underage teens mating, but this still bugs me when I’m playing. In a primitive society, you can’t afford to wait around that long. Life is short. You need to start having kids as soon as possible, and keep at it until menopause if you don’t want to go extinct.

As careful as the game is with underage procreation, it cares nothing at all about incest. It doesn’t keep track of who is related to whom, and any two people of opposite genders can attempt to have kids if they are over 18.

So what we have is a game that refuses to allow mating between people under 18, but has no problem with lots of immediate family members all mating in the same tiny hut at once. With the door open. Ew.

I think this is one of those aspects of the game you aren’t supposed to think about too much. I guess I just did.

Virtual Villagers – Babies!
Because I’m in a hurry, I usually pair up the villagers arbitrarilly and send them to mate en masse. Here several women emerge from the nookie hut with new babies.
I understand why, from a gameplay perspective, the game works like this. If you had to worry about family relations, then getting the population going from just six people would be quite a challenge, and if one or two of them died early it could doom the entire colony. Also, if the villagers simply had babies at a normal rate (and not at the players direction) then the women would spend a lot of time pregnant. The population would grow too fast and starve. The only way to cure that would be to introduce a realistic infant mortality rate, which would pretty much kill the fun of the game. Primitive societies had no contraception, began making babies at the onset of puberty, and yet the population was usually flat. Those numbers would make for a gruesome and bleak game if portrayed in any sort of realistic manner. Thankfully, the infant mortality rate is also unrealisticly low. (It’s nil, actually.)

Anyway, the fact that women leave the workforce for two years whenever they get pregnant has direct gameplay consequences. If you are very stupid and make your women farmers and your men do all the other stuff, then when someone gets pregnant you will suffer a drop in food production. Depending on your tech level, this can be really dangerous.

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From the Archives:

  1. -Chipper says:

    http://www.3rdworldfarmer.com/

    For a while there was a game online that showed some of the grimness of reality. Not exactly along the lines of Virtual Villagers. It seems this website is no longer up. In it, you were a 3rd world farmer. You could purchase seed for corn (cheapest), wheat, peanut, and/or cotton and sow your fields. If you get ahead enough you can buy a shed & some livestock. If you do REALLY well, you can buy a barn & cattle & put in a well. But every year there are challenges – one year guerillas raid & burn all your crops; another year the monetary system collapses; another there is illness in the family or livestock. There are also some opportunities that arise, but often with possible bad outcomes – you can get an offer of growing opium on your land that can give you a financial windfall, but that could result in an airstrike that kills a family member. You can get an offer of payment in order to host a camp for a guerilla band, but of course that can lead to an attack. Most of the time, even if you played well, after 10 – 20 years your whole family is dead. I think I’d prefer Virtual Villagers.

  2. -Chipper says:

    Here’s a version that is up.

  3. some kid says:

    Well don’t forget we all came from Adam and Eve. So in a way were all related… weird.

    • CheddarTheKnight says:

      That is only if you believe in Christianity. Even so, the relationship at this point with your potential date is something like .000000000000000000000000000001. The chance of cousins having a baby is lower than the chance of Mary being a virgin (it was the upstairs neighbor!!)

  4. Jack says:

    That would explain all the freaks…

  5. -Chipper says:

    http://www.itu.dk/people/hermund/3wf/index_content.html
    Hmmm. The link didn’t post for 3rd world farmer in my last comment.
    If you do really well, you can buy yourself an elephant, although I don’t think it helps you earn any more money – but I guess it’s a prestige thing…

  6. bob says:

    this is cool keep mating till u have like 5oo ppl then waste the food and they all die

  7. i think the whole mating thing is a little odd. i mean, on virtual villagers 2, if they dont ifx the hutm then the 2 peopel that wanna have the kid have to crawl into the hut. i bet it isnt veryclean inside. maybe the kids are gonna be born with diseases. and anyway…the coconut trees dont gorw mroe coconuts. in real life they do!!!!! wel my people are always gettin busy. if its anyhting liek the real world the hut would be shaking liek crazy!!!!!!!!!! since its a broken old run-down hut i tihnk it might fall on them one day. oops…no mroe baby. lol….no mroe parents either. my population is alredy at 37. w00t w00t.

  8. lisa says:

    Just out of curiosity, i was able to get 3-4 men and one woman in the hut at the same time .. and vice versa .. dont know if it helped them get more kids, but it was cute

  9. Julia says:

    lol to comment number 9!!! :D I have done that SO many times!
    I have a guy that likes running and if he ‘kisses’ too far away from the hut he runs in there without her (she takes a long time to get there) and many times he will come out and kiss some one else and gets to be with a few women at a time. lol

    I would also like to point out that if you set your persons skill/preference to ‘breeding,’ they will mate without you having to forcefully put them together. Just a little tip :) Personally I like arranging couples myself and I get bugged when the wrong pair get together because of the reason stated above. It just feels wrong to see a young girl running into her ‘fathers’ arms, you know what I mean?

    Well, good luck in your worlds everyone! May your villagers have many children! :D

  10. Jen in Cabo says:

    i have lost almost all my tribe. I was left with 4 kids. 1 male and 3 females… well the male died and now im left with only girls! What do i do…? there only kids right now but does this mean its pretty much the end?

    • Priya says:

      No, sometimes events occur where children arrive onto the island. Hopefully you’ll have mix genders in there. While you’re waiting for the kids to arrive, you can solve many of the island’s puzzles with just your girls. As long as you can keep them alive, they only reason you’d need to mate again is for the purpose of creating the “golden child,” and a crate with children should arrive by the time you get to that puzzle. You may not think it’s worth it, but you feel SO good if you can complete the game against ALL odds. I’m currently trying to complete the game with only one villager left (and, no, I’m not very experienced at this)!

  11. Amanda says:

    question: i only have one villager left (oopsie, but i have another question about that) and i know sometimes you get like a barrel of babies or visitors from other parts of Isola, is there a way to trigger that?

    question 2: my food sources keep running out before i can get enought tech points for food (i save them specifically for food and dont spend them on other stuff), is there a trick to getting more tech points? i put like 4 people there.

    • loveie09 says:

      the best way to get tech points fast is when a collection item pops up n the ground push space bar then drag all the kids onto the item if you have 10 kids 5 kids are likely to pic it up like mushroom and handy hint when makeing babys you dont have to wait for them to walk into the shed just while your matching adults keep and eye on your population and it will go up if makeing baby worked and then u pic them up move them away from each other and baby will pop up soon and keep using them that way u never have to wait for them to go in the shedto make the baby little not iv played all the virtual villagers and no woman has kids after 53 i dont know what it isx but they can keep mateing but she will never get a nother babyn if you need any more help contact me coolerthenu_7@hotmail.com

  12. Jack says:

    You don’t know that small scale primitive societies had no contraceptives. Those herb doctors were pretty sharp. Indian tribes had several birth control methods.

    I noticed that both men and women can start working at 14. (In small scale tribes, of course, children do simple work from the time they start running around, and I still think it’s a mistake of the game not to let them be able to, say, pick berries.)

    So, I figured that they can’t have kids until they’re 18 in order to give them some time to develop one or more skills, before the women drop out to have children. Also, when the young people had that much time to work on skills, you can see what their natural aptitudes are, and pair them up with mates with similar aptitudes so their kids (hopefully) would have them.

  13. Annity says:

    Ummm…I have one male left in a population of 13….ALL MY GIRLS KEEP HAVING GIRLS! …i need a boy soon before my last sperm bank dies. Is there a way to trigger sex gender when mating?

    • loveie09 says:

      get 1 girl and get that guy to keep going at her never let here in the hut and look at the population to see if it gose up do that with half your tribe iand i swear you should get at least 2 guys

  14. Candy Capital says:

    Just a correction: If you set a male of female preference in the detail menu to breeding the will try to mate with other villagers by theirselves. Although you want to be careful because they will continue breeding with other villagers and you’ll end up with too many villagers and not enough food.

  15. Julia says:

    I can’t seem to get my villagers to get kids and they keep saying that they are ‘too hungry to think about this’ll and I drag them tithe food bin but still doesn’t work. What do I do?

    • anya says:

      You have to collect more food – they’re too worried about the amount of food to breed so go forage from the berry bush. Alternatively, you can upgrade to Level 2 Farming technology so you can plant crops on the dark soil on the beach. Level 3 Farming technology allows your villagers to be able to fish in the ocean.

  16. xxnunezxx says:

    there is so much incest! and it bothers me. i gave them all specific spouses from childhood and I’ve narrowed it down to 2 families the Zs and the Js and like one female N cuz her man died. well yeah the all have their own spouse and the newer generations keep sleeping together willy nilly !! and it not okay! and the letters (N,Z,J) i just put a capital letter after there name, the children get there mothers last name. so if kina Z has a baby with tado N there baby will be tico Z. tados sister will have a baby and keep their letter N.

  17. Hackergirl157 says:

    So I had to restart my game I was almost finished with all the puzzles and my cousin thought it would be funny to skip my time forward 3 years I didn’t have a preference set to breeding so all my villagers died off

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