long time ago, an overworked and underpaid programmer
over at SimCity-maker Maxis found his way to RTMark.com.
Becoming interested in the activities of this company
(described by some to be "commercial terrorism" and by
others as "pranks"), a mischiveous idea snuck into his
head. Using a few select dates and a bit of programming,
one person singlehandedly sent an entire company into a
hurry to release a patch for his 'prank' and brought
lots of media attention to Maxis. As a result, he was
If you don't already know, Jacques Servin
was the programmer behind the "Gay Sims" of SimCopter.
This is his story.
exactly did you do and why did you do it?
charge of creating the people in SimCopter, I added some
boys in swim trunks and had them kiss, under certain
conditions--on my birthday, my boyfriend's birthday, and
Friday the 13th (for some reason).
did you first get the idea to do so?
But I'd thought before that something like it should be
Explain the chain of events
following your actions - the game was released, then
what? Who discovered what had happened and how?
The game was sent to the distributor on a
Friday, I think it was, and then Will Wright noticed the
boys over the weekend. I think I was fired (not by Will,
who I imagine was more amused than anything) around the
How would you
describe the company/organization "RTMark"? What was
their involvement in this?
sponsoring anti-corporate activism. I got the basic idea
from their list of projects. When it worked out, they
RTMark did pay you for your
accomplishments, correct? When did they pay you or when
did they offer to pay you? How much did they pay?
Yes, they paid me $5000, which I received
about a month after the game was shipped (which was also
roughly when the press came down--it took the press
about a month to catch on and write about it).
What kind of recognition did you
Tons of it--besides the dozens of
articles and so on, lots and lots of fan letters, and
also quite a few hate letters. It was very fun. I also
got about five job offers, but they were all in goofy
places, geographically. Silicon Graphics had me come in
and interview, but one of the people there didn't like
me for some reason....
How did Maxis
initially respond? How were your relations internally
with the company? How do you feel about Maxis' response?
Was it the right thing for them to do? Why?
Maxis was very fun to work for, for the first
few months I was there (I think I started in Oct. '95).
I had no big problems with anyone the whole time I was
there, but after I was taken off development for what
eventually became The Sims [not sure that's the
title--it's the one with little people in houses],
things sort of went downhill. It became pretty
intolerable when after working there for a year with no
vacation, I decided I urgently needed to take a week or
two off (to tend to some heartsickness, metaphorical),
but was refused with no condolences, sympathy, or
kindness. We were in the final push to get SimCopter out
the door, and they were really pushing us all to the
max. Why are companies allowed to demand 60-hour weeks
from their employees? I had voluntarily put in 60-hour
weeks earlier, when working on The Sims, but the
SimCopter push was really, really horrible for me, and I
still think that sort of thing is inhumane.
What are you doing now? Did the entire
SimCopter thing lead you anywhere else?
Since then, I've worked for another game company
(Fujitsu Interactive, on a game called FinFin on Teo),
for Berkeley Laboratories (they used to be called the
Berkeley Radiation Laboratory before their makeover),
and elsewhere. It's been consistently easy to find work,
and at a higher rate than I was getting at Maxis, so I
don't think what I did hurt my career any.
After SimCopter, have you had any
relations with gay/lesbian groups or organizations? If
so, what? If no, why not? Have they tried to contact
Hm, no, not really. I guess this group
called Digital Queers wanted me to give a talk or
something for a while, but that's about it. I'm not the
organization type anyhow, I can't stand meetings and
find marches nervewracking.
you'd like to say to the community, to Maxis, to
What I did was not just about gay
pride--I mean really, I suppose video games should have
gay characters, but this issue was never very important
to me. I did it only partly because I thought it was a
good idea, and a funny thing that would amuse a lot of
The bigger reason I did it was anger at
being worked so hard with no relief. The attitude of my
manager, who has since been dismissed, was really
arrogant. He assumed it was okay to work me 60 hours /
week with no immediate reward, no apologies, no sympathy
for my particular situation. I think it's probably
illegal to demand that workers put in more than 40 hours
/ week, but it's quite routine, and not only in
If it hadn't been for that, I would
have been a lot more interested in keeping my job and
might not have put in the kissing boys. Exploitation is
bad business, at least when the exploited workers are in
control of the product and can easily find new jobs....
On the other hand, I'll bet some extra
SimCopters sold because of this, so maybe it was really
a win-win situation.