6 Things Only Sims Players Will Understand
By Eva Castleton
From the release of The Sims in 2000 to the most recent Sims 4 expansion, My First Pet Stuff, in March of 2018, millions of us have poured our hearts, souls, and countless hours into our digital counter parts. From the makers of Space Cadet Pinball (no, really) and what started as Will Wright’s 3D architectural simulator, The Sims has evolved into our favorite digital dollhouse. A place where players are rewarded for living out our romantic, capitalist, (and sometimes sociopathic) fantasies.
- “You do you”
It’s up to you, the player, to decide what kind of story to tell. Maybe you’re living out your wildest career fantasies as an interstellar smuggler in the Astronaut track. Or befriending neighborhood ghosts, or concocting the most creative ways to set your ex-boss on fire. Illuminating.
In fact, it’s even possible to sink hours into a totally sim-less game of The Sims. Do you want to build an unrivaled topiary labyrinth? Go crazy. What about a swank houseboat? There’s a mod for that. Maybe you want to practice your urban planning skills by changing residential lot types into a gym or a bar and letting the NPCs interact with your public works masterpiece.
The Sims has no primary objective. And that’s just fine with us. Give us the sandbox, we’ll see you on a bio break.
- “There’s no way to fast-forward reality”
When the real world finally rips us away from our monitors, we just can’t help but compare our realities to “live mode”. But alas, real life insists on existing in real time. The work day can feel glacial without the ability to press “3” and have the hours fly by. And imagine how many dramatic situations we could make right if reality had a pause button and “build mode”.
Out here in cruel, cold reality, our careers, personalities, and aspirations aren’t nearly as linear as the ones in EA Maxis’ world. In The Sims, reading a skill book is just as helpful tinkering with your toilet if you want to increase your handiness.
For instance, take the Charisma skill. Want to get better at talking to people? Our sims can Hermione Granger their way through three volumes of skill books to turn those skills up to 10. Take that, experiential learning!
- “We’re here for the quirk”
But sometimes The Sims is exactly the escapism we’re looking for. A perfect break from the IRL in which we can imply that our enemy’s mother is a llama. While carrying the alien baby we got as a…souvenir…that time we were abducted.
Or we can follow the ever-entertaining family saga of the Goths. Seriously. What happened to Bella Goth? And yes, the narrative of The Sims 4 is considered an alternate universe from the earlier releases…but I still don’t trust that creep, Mortimer.
Living in Willow Creek or Strangetown can be a comforting distraction from the mundane, or the political. Our sims are untouched by the outside world. They’re generated in a bubble of our making. With each additional generation, expansion, stuff pack, and spinoff, the world of The Sims grows in complexity, variety, and weird.
- “You Can Set Your Own Difficulty Level”
Hard work is character building! Rewarding! For everyone else there’s Motherlode.
Want to begin your simulated life with less than 20,000 simoleons? Good for you! There’s a few just-big-enough homes that will get you started. And, as this is the 21st century, your sim appears fully formed, smartphone in hand. With the opportunity to “Find a Job” that pairs perfectly with your Fortune Aspiration. As your wealth amasses, your sim will be able to afford more, and that user-uploaded mansion that you’ve been eyeing on Origin can be yours to download!
Twitch and YouTube are peppered with streamers and personalities who guide us through their Rags to Riches Challenges–busking with found violins or earning cash by selling fish found in public parks. Or the ever classic Legacy Challenge where players start with a founder sim and play through ten generations on the same lot.
But as we function as the puppet-masters of our Sims, our true overlords–the developers at EA and Maxis have given those of us who crave instant gratification, the greatest gift of all: encouraged cheating.
- “Cheaters are winners”
As if four generations of The Sims games, a plethora of expansions, and several themed standalones isn’t enough content, cheating provides an even greater depth of experience. Ctrl + Shift + C for PC users, or Command + Shift + C for those on Macs, with a quick “testingcheats true” thrown in, is the window to our creator approved next level of enjoyment. And oh boy, do we enjoy it.
On the official The Sims 4 website, the developers have this to say on the matter:
“Cheating is a big part of the game. Not only is it easy to access, but it’s even something we kinda, sorta, actually encourage.” So maybe cheating is a misnomer. By removing challenges and obstacles, we get to unlock hidden codes and features. These cheats can (and have) been used to drop random sims into the universe, to make all houses free, or to resize a toilet so that it fills an entire lot. For reasons. Many a giggling player has used Moveobjects to remove a pool ladder to lethal effect or to watch what’s happening under the woo-hoo sheets.
- “The girl next door might just be your soulmate”
Or the pizza delivery guy.
Romance can be a huge part of The Sims, with no barriers of sexual orientation. Perhaps you’ve used The Sims as an exercise in genetics to fantasize about what your future offspring could look like. In a blemishless cyber alternate reality. It’s ok, we’re not judging.