By Margaret Lyons
Updated June 11, 2009 at 12:00 PM EDT

Now that The Sims 3 has been out for a little while, nontraditional play has emerged — as it always does — in some cool and interesting ways. For example: The Tale of Alice and Kev, “an experiment in playing a homeless family in The Sims 3.”

Game design student Robin Burkinsaw “created two Sims, moved them in to a place made to look like an abandoned park, removed all of their remaining money, and then attempted to help them survive without taking any job promotions or easy cash routes.” Burkinsaw designed Kev, the dad, to be “hot-headed, mean-spirited, and inappropriate,” and daughter Alice to be “a kind-hearted clumsy loser.” What happened next illustrates some of the potential entrenched in the fascinating emotional intelligence woven into the game.

Alice tries to sleep at neighbors’ houses, where she’s met with a variety of responses, from pity to disgust. Kev’s outlandish sexual behavior makes him the scourge of the neighborhood. As Alice matures, her frustration and desperation increase, and she and her father disagree even more than usual. Honestly, start at the beginning and read all the way through: Alice and Kev is as emotional and compelling as anything I’ve seen in a long time. The Sims 3 suddenly seems a lot more interesting.

Whaddya think, PopWatchers? Did you always know The Sims 3 had this kind of potential, or are you as gobsmacked as I am? What stories have come out of your Simulations so far?