This post contains spoilers through Westworld's sixth episode, "The Adversary." Head to Westworld World, our hub for recaps, theories, interviews, and deep dives.
If you watch Westworld, you've probably had a conversation about how the show compares to video games. TV critics, fans, and the creators themselves have cited the violent, morally ambiguous narratives of BioShock, Red Dead Redemption, and Grand Theft Auto in discussing the "open-world" adventures of the button-mashing viewer surrogate the Man in Black, who has been dubbed both "a video game nerd" and a "classic bad gamer." But "The Adversary" posed a different, trickier question: What if the hosts are actually Sims?
Compared to the pampered guests, the hosts have always had it rough. Whether it's following a budding heroine like Dolores or canon fodder like Teddy, the show consistently demands you consider the inner lives of loop-repeating, quest-guiding characters who are normally cast off to the margins of most games. By focusing on the increasingly self-conscious, bird-loving Maeve, the sixth episode explored how it might feel for a video-game stooge to become self-aware. It's like a Mario game that demands you take seriously the plight of a Goomba. Or it's like really thinking about the potential humanity of a Sim.
You remember the enormously popular life-simulation game The Sims, right? You probably created a Sim at some point. Maybe had your William-like Sim work hard and earn a promotion -- or maybe, if you're more of a Logan, you placed your Sim in a pool, removed the ladders, and had it swim to its death. Either way, the classic game provides an interesting lens to look at Westworld's vision of how artificial personalities are created, codified, and maintained -- and then messed with.