The Sims had a demo for Windows 98 that I found as a teenager. My sister and I both were absolutely enthralled with it. I made a Japanese shoji house with a lawn made of swimming pools and carpeted sidewalks between the rooms. I made a bachelor pad with a dance club in the attic. I made my sims drink juice and blow bubbles for days. Oh yeah, it’s The Sims!
The Game, The Myth, The Legend
Okay, so when I said this is a life simulator, I was describing the complete nature of this game. With one caveat, in our own, agreed upon, mutually respected smorgasbord of consensus reality, this game is actually more of a domestic social simulator. I wouldn’t expect you to enter in with a neural implant and go on living your life in an existential simulacra. But it has a social framework for all of life and society’s quirks and story arches. The necessity of innovation, careers, personal goals, personalities, families, social networks, technology, materialism, shopping, nature, mythology and stories. It’s all there!
One couldn’t sum this whole game up in a paragraph there, but yes, it is a life simulator. You start off creating a sim with a chunk of change to start off with, buy a house, and take it from there. Ever since the first one there’s been so many developments with this game. It has had so many expansions, bonus packs, DLC, and mods you can do a lot with it. If all you want to do is buy the game and get on with your simulated life, you can do that, or you can do more.
There is so much to customize. This game is the customizing wonder machine. Clothes, genetics, size, personality, goals, voice, quirks, family or roommates. There is no shame in taking ages on your first sims. You can really get detailed, or you can bump the dice icon and it will randomize it all for you, usually with pretty aesthetic results. Some might say that The Sims creators were the pioneers in character customization. Even the originals were very customizable.
Yeah, you can adjust just about everything. And if you want to, you can even download versions that other people have made themselves from the gallery. Back when I was into The Sims nearly every waking moment I would download lots of custom content, a lot of it was representing of pop culture in various ways whether celebrities or locations. People were always being creative and making neat stuff though.
On a social note, one thing The Sims has really tried to do is make the game inclusive for whoever you are. Really, they have to have that in a way, with how much the social identity has transformed, or was it always there? I don’t know, but they know that people play their game to flesh out their creativity and own expressions of identity.
I’m not trying to be cliché or anything in my saying that, but you can basically make whoever you want. Life isn’t always livable on our turns, so it truly is a blessing to be able to express the sentiments of our own activities. And I probably don’t have to say it, but if you’re home-bound or in quarantine, this opportunity is amazing right now.
After you’ve created your Sim and moved into a home, next comes the most important task: do whatever you want! Yep. There is so much response and acceptance of your choices, that you can do whatever you want (so long as it actually is actually programmed into the game.)
This is a nonviolent game. If you are looking for one, you’re probably going to be hilariously rejected by your attempts to experience that in this game. There are however the usual realities of life such as loss or frustration, but the game does not focus on those, and there will be options, sort of like real life.
So, what can you do? Well, you can eat, sleep, talk to people (the socializing system is pretty advanced, you can end up having generations of family with somebody who you randomly met through a friend of a friend of a friend.)
Any action between yourself and another can generally be achieved by controlling your character and clicking on another that you want to interact with. Everything is completely animated and has consequences for both parties whether marginal or life changing. I have found that you can get away with almost anything though.
The psychology of this game is such in a way that most people will really care what happens to their sim to an extent. They are your creation and you have invested time enough to wish them to complete what you created them for. I know that’s some borderline epistemological analysis, but it is an element. It’s there.
Some Thoughts on This Game’s Evolution
I noticed when I was writing this that there have been so many updates to the game that it’s almost a new experience. Games like this that are usually so reliant on expansion packs and bonuses are all moving into a direction I think is okay. Series modularization.
This is kind of how things work for Smart Phones now. You have new hardware or you have old hardware but you have new software with old software wherever you go (mostly.) This is just some speculation I’ve heard on the gaming front in regards to some of the new consoles, particularly the Switch. Oh, did I say that this is game is mostly PC/Mac only? There are some mobile versions, but the massive game the I have been reviewing here is on PC. Maybe not forever though.
If you want to explore this game, I recommend getting some new content or tryin the new content that is in it. I just learned today that there are odd jobs like fast food and barista in the career menu. They used to be under a category called “Slacker Career Path.” They sort of are, but many people do work those jobs and they are NOT slackers. That’s just a mini digression, but yeah, things like that actually bring a smile to my face because time changes and so does its art. This is no exception.
Loading Final Thoughts: Watch Out For Plumb Bobs
This game is a wonderful game in its beneficial mental health effects I have mentioned above. When I was about midway through Sims 3 seasons I wondered if this game needed to go further. Creative dedication to these ideas is where we are headed. Information literally is the most profitable commodity.
Many people use The Sims to create or escape, and I think that’s fine. If this game could be merged or paralleled with some of the virtual universe frameworks out there, you really could create something very much like a simulated life reality. James Halliday, the fictional Oasis’s creator from Ready Player One, wanted there to never be rules for his creation, which is why it had changed the world.
I don’t know where The Sims is headed or if it could turn into something like that. But the ideas are there, and as Halliday said, virtual reality is great but reality is still the best place to get a meal.