Sim-plicity: I am a naked Hugh Hefner

Having retired from world-saving heroics, Christopher Livingston is living the simple life in video games by playing a series of down-to-earth simulations. This week he's throwing parties, taking naughty pictures, building a magazine empire, and doing it all while naked as a jaybird.

Quick history lesson for you youngsters reading this: Hugh Hefner is a wealthy publisher who made his fortune founding a men's magazine called Playboy that featured pictures of nude women. For even younger youngsters: magazines were these things made of paper that people bought when they wanted to look at pictures of nude women before the Internet was invented and filled with pictures of nude women. And, for those of you so young you haven't been born yet, the Internet was a thing we used for looking at pictures of nude women before the images were holo-beamed straight into our cranial implants from the pornography satellite orbiting Jupiter.

Okay! This week I'm playing Playboy: The Mansion, a game from 2004 that simulates the life of the world's most famous skin baron, Hugh Hefner. I'm playing in Classic Mode, which begins with Mr. Hefner trying to build his Playboy empire from scratch, though it is a little odd that Hef already has his mansion with the iconic Playboy emblem on the door when he hasn't even published a single issue. As I stroll around my luxurious home, there are a number of top-heavy women to interact with. I can even dress them up, or more specifically, order them to take most of their clothes off.

At least that's what the game wants me to do. I, however, am a forward-thinking gentleman who has grown weary of traditional gender roles. So, I decide instead to dress Hef in the smallest swimsuit he owns and paint it flesh-colored, rendering him seemingly stark naked. So now, the man is the naked one, and all the women have clothes on. See what I did? I flipped the script! The objectification of women is a thing of the past! You're welcome, society ! Enjoy your new behavioral norms!

Oh, wait, I forgot I still have to take a bunch of pictures of nude women for the magazine. So, scratch all that.

I won't lie: taking photos of naked computer women with comically large breasts is fun, though it really has more to do with that fact that taking pictures of anything in any game is fun, because I have a thing for in-game cameras. For instance, I'm still playing The Hunter ( the sim from last week ) and I took some pictures of a moose last night . And it was fun! (Also, for those wondering, I did finally bag a turkey .) And, to avoid having to spend time in Photoshop putting black CENSORED bars over all the Playmates' exposed nipples, I invented my own minigame where I try to block the nudity with objects in the mansion.

I would think the horny readers of my magazine would be dismayed to open the centerfold and see a woman's nude parts obscured by a lamp or a plant, but the magazine is selling like gangbusters and some guy keeps popping onto my screen to excitedly declare each photoshoot more successful than the last. In fact, it doesn't seem to matter in the slightest how much skin I actually show in the pages of Playboy. My readers seem to love the mental challenge of imaging breasts they can't see on women obscured by furniture.

I start hiding the women behind ever bigger objects, such as hedges or doors, but it doesn't seem to matter. I've basically turned Playboy into a home furnishings catalog and my fans can't get enough of it.

Besides watching cartoon women writhe around on a bed while I position the camera behind bookcases and walls, there are other things to do in this sim, relationship things, like make friends, form business partnerships, and acquire girlfriends. They're all accomplished by a long, involved, complex relationship interface where you click a button two or three times and someone falls in love with you. I make a joke, they laugh. I flirt, they swoon. I discuss the stock market, they fall head over heels in business with me. It's like The Sims, only you never have to go to the bathroom and no one ever rebuffs your advances, be they amorous or contractual. There are dozens of different people in this sim and their personalities can all be summed up as: Yes .

There are also other features that have to be added to magazines, such as interviews and articles, but they're boring because I can't take pictures of them, so let's get back to the racy boudoir shots I've been taking, like this one :

And this one:

And this one!

Of course, all is not well in the mansion. Surprisingly, stripping every woman naked, having sex with all of them on various pieces of furniture, and selling their pictures in my magazine results in some serious consequences.

Apart from being rewarded with furniture for cheating on my various girlfriends, Hef also has to spend a considerable amount of time soothing egos, mending relationships, and talking to staff members. There are celebrities and sports heroes to rub shoulders with and writers and musicians to woo. This is all time consuming, though not particularly challenging, and after throwing my forty-eighth party it just starts to get a bit tiresome.

Conclusion : Well, it's sort of fun being Hugh Hefner, though they shipped this sim with the difficulty level set at "We Shipped This Sim Without Including Any Difficulty". Magazine covers featuring 3% women and 97% doors sell fifty thousand copies. Within a minute of meeting someone for the first time, they are either my friend, my girlfriend, my business partner, or all three. Visiting female guests, be they models, writers, athletes, or other professionals, can be talked out of their tops and sprawled nude on a couch within moments of walking in the door. I guess the charms of naked Hugh Hefner simply cannot be denied.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.