Funeral Director Creates Internet Buzz by Making Real Life a Reality
Article Contributed by: MySendOff.com
When most people think of funeral homes, they think of brick and mortar buildings that sit in a neighborhood to serve real families, made up of real life people. Stacey R. Lean of Fayetteville, North Carolina had a different idea however. The 24 year old mortuary student decided to use her skills in the computer game The Sims 3 to create a virtual funeral home in the popular single player life simulation game.
The Sims 3 is the latest iteration of the twelve year old series, which was designed by Will Wright of Maxis Studios and released in February 2000. It has become a worldwide phenomenon since then, giving the 150 million people who have purchased the game the ability to create custom houses and families. Sims (virtual people created in the game) can interact with each other; making friends, getting in fights, buying new couches and showering, just like in real life. Houses can be designed with hundreds of different types of wallpaper, flooring and windows, and filled with different tables, TVs, cabinets, sinks and entertainment devices; allowing players to create a realistic, or out of this world house.
Stacey started playing The Sims back when the first version was released in 2000, and hasn’t stopped since. It took her about five hours to construct the two story building and its basement. The upper level contains the director’s home, with bedrooms, a kitchen and everything else you would expect for comfortable living. The main floor is the actual public funeral home area, complete with two viewing rooms, an office, beautiful lobby, two visitation rooms and two public washrooms. Every room is loaded with details, from tissue boxes to digital picture frames to old style chairs and couches. The Sims 3 doesn’t have an option for caskets, so she made do with a simple white box at the front of the viewing rooms, however she said that somebody on Reddit let her know that a Sims 3 expansion pack called Late Night includes coffins, so she is thinking of upgrading to this edition.
The basement was the part of the home that was the most impressive. She built two embalming rooms, complete with tables, lighting above, sinks built into basic counters and even stereos so the embalmer can jam out while working. As she explained, in The Sims you have to do with what you have, so Stacey installed a fireplace as a crematorium, and several fridges to represent freezers for the bodies to be stored in.
Stacey has received plenty of positive attention on social networks Facebook and Reddit for the screenshots of her creation. Several Redditors mentioned that it reminded them of HBO series Six Feet Under and the movie My Girl, while others simply praised her unique idea and great work on it.
Stacey has some experience with funeral homes which has inspired her to build this creation and also to become a funeral director. At the young age of 13 she lost her mother, and only a few months ago she attended the funeral of her friend’s mother. At that latest funeral, she noticed that the funeral home was equipped with digital picture frames, which somewhat inspired parts of her Sims funeral home. Her SimFuneral Home home is partially based on Grandview Funeral Home in Sparta, NC and on Jernigan-Warren Funeral Home in her hometown of Fayetteville, NC, and the rest is based on her own vivid imagination.
Despite Stacey’s connection to modern day life, she personally prefers the traditional style of funeral homes, such as the one that she created here. However, she does think that there is a definite place for modern design and ideas, and she has indeed integrated a few modern twists in her Sims funeral home, such as the digital picture frames and modern style fireplace in the lobby. Like most people of Generation Y, Stacey is stuck somewhere between connection to modern technology and yearning for the days of yore. She loves all the potential of cremation, from launching ashes to the moon to making diamonds out of cremains, but also is intensely interested in Victorian post-mortem photography and mourning dresses.
A place however where she is not much of a traditionalist is in the final resting grounds of cemeteries. When asked if she is interested in someday building a SimCemetery, she informed me that there is already one built into the game, however it is dark, gothic and creepy. She prefers the modern, big bright spaces that abound in North Carolina, and laments the stereotype of cemeteries being dark and scary. She is also considering building a crematorium one day once she spends some more time in one.
She hopes that one day her future profession will be better represented in The Sims, with actual funerals being able to be held, and the ability for morticians to be added to the long list of potential jobs for Sims, alongside the current options which include police officer, chef, bookstore clerk, professional athlete, soldier and more. The closest available job in the game today is part-time Mausoleum Gravedigger.
The Sims is one of the few computer games available that lets players be so creative with their ideas, as Stacey said, “While I was playing the Sims one day the idea popped into my head. I didn’t remember ever seeing it done before, so I thought it would be cool to give it a shot.” The Sims gives users the ability to put their ideas together and just create them easily, inspiration can come from anywhere, and at the end when all is said and done you have created something new and your own… kind of like the processes for planning your own personalized funeral?