I am a closet sim horse game player. There, I said it. The weight of years of hiding behind my fake cyber ponies has been unlifted! Really I should say I’m a former sim horse game player, because I don’t exactly have time for such things at the moment but I will tell you one thing: I owe my career to these games.
That may sound drastic, but it’s true. I went to college for English Education (high school teaching), and I work in design, UI and web marketing right now. Those are all skills I picked up myself through various jobs but originally they all came from sim.
What is this “Sim” which you speak of?
In its broadest term, sim is simulation and in this case – simulation horse games. The deal is you have virtual horses to breed, train and show. You may think of fancy 3d computer graphics, but I can assure you that its roots started much, much simpler.
Part 1: Sim Horse Chat
I basically grew up in the dawn of the internet. We got AOL in my house when I was 12, and almost immediately after I stumbled upon these AOL sponsored “Sim horse Chat” rooms. What what?
Turns out they were for either showing your sim race horses, or showing your sim hunter/jumpers. How do you show a fake horse in a chat room you ask? Why, through lots of creativity!
The race horses were judged on description. Each horse/rider combination would have a different color/font to differentiate themselves and a person would “judge” the race and call out the turns. It went something like this…
And the horse’s have left the gate!
Simon breaks clean and gallops across the dirt track, his hooves churning the footing beneath him and muscles stretched out underneath me as I lightly perch in my position and look between his ears for a spot on the rail.
The “judge” picked the eventual winner usually by who typed the most and who had the best description of galloping their horse in the race. A pretty font color and a good sim horse name never hurt either!
Racing was my favorite and also the most popular kind of competition in the sim horse chat rooms, but jumping was another that was run much, much differently. This time the “rider” would enter the “ring” and type a word for the gait their horse was performing. Like so:
And the gait would be typed at least once a second – you would be penalized if you went slower. The “Judge” would then insert a “Jump” in the middle of the “Course” so it looked like this…
And the “rider” would type “Jump” and “Land” and then “Canter” as soon as they saw the jump. You “pulled a rail” if you typed “Canter” after you saw the jump emoticon. It was actually a really, really tedious thing to do correctly.
From these sim horse chat competitions, I would write notebooks with all my horse’s results and placings. When that got boring, I discovered the world of geocities free websites and started making my own pages. At first I just did the WYSIWYG builder, but eventually I wanted to do more complicated stuff (like that java script that makes a picture look like water!) and began to learn rudimentary HTML.
This was my hobby after school if I wasn’t at the barn, which at that point in time I only got to ride a few days a week. Sim horse chat was a treat, and it taught me…
- How to type really, really quickly (I clip along at about 125 words a minute)
- Using descriptive language with writing, which helped my creative writing, content writing at my job and I’d like to think blogging too!
- The beginning of my love for HTML and CSS
Stay tuned for part 2, where I delve deep into the world of Photoshop and graphics with Sim! Did any of y’all ever participate in AOL sim horse chat or something similar?