I believe that one legitimate question we can ask is: who hasn’t played, even for a little bit, any of the Sims games? Whether it be through the original Sims, Sims 2, Sims 3 or Sims 4, there always are opportunities to control the lives of all those simulated people within their simulated lives.
Sometimes, understanding the popularity of this series is a bit tricky. After all, those games are about simulating real life… How could that be interesting in the first place? If you want to see real life, well… Just live your life!
This made me think a little about why the Sims series was so fun to play. To do so, I took a look at the way I played, and how many other people played, at least in my experience.
Call us impatient little brats, but as some friends and I attempted to do a complete Sims family with proper descendants, with dreams and all that, we could not help but start either cheating or put a silly “custom goal” for the family after a couple of hours, because frankly, we were booooooooooooooooooooooooored.
This (french) screenshot of The Sims 3 seems pretty normal at first. Just a casual interaction between two. Can be boring if there is no specific goal for that. But hey, little do they know that the old lady on the left was going to die within seconds after that screenshot was taken! And in front of her family! Sad, but funny at the same time. Weird.
The cheating could be more or less present. For instance, for one family, our “custom goal” was to create the largest genealogical tree we could, starting with just a couple. To do so, we initially deactivated their needs, so that they could work towards the goal of handling both their job (and improving their skills), AND finding another Sim to marry with. This would have been chaotic if it wasn’t for the deactivation of the needs, and I mean not in a fun way.
Another time, I had fun trying to make a family of 8 Sims survive in the smallest house possible with the worst jobs possible (hence low money), WITH the needs activated. I made sure that they STAYED in that condition and did not improve: all they had to do was to live and “survive”. That was a fun challenge. But could we really consider that normal play? Since I consider that a challenge (or in my own words, a silly “custom goal”), I would not say so. Sure in real life that is called poverty (which is another, completely seperate but important issue), but admittedly, it’s not so much of a problem in The Sims [insert number here] since it’s usually not THAT hard to gain money within the game.
And when I was trying to play completely normally, I usually could enjoy only for the first hours. Especially if you start with a lonely Sim. But even if you start with a couple or an entire family, sure it’s nice to see it progress, but most of the time, I just wondered “why am I not using this time to improve on real life skills?”.
Most of my enjoyment from that “normal” family came whenever something amazing happened to them. Something that you usually don’t see every other day in real life, such as one of the members of the family becoming among the top scientists of the world (which, I admit, is pretty satisfying to reach when it’s done with no cheating – though the actual process is not as fun in my opinion), or the house burning down because the teenage son doesn’t know how to use the oven (multiple times), or when it turned out that the brother of the two police officers of that family is a criminal mastermind!
It was pretty funny seeing all of them panicking at that fire, and even if I tried to make them go away from the fire to save them, they would just keep coming back… Were they asking to burn or what? Eheh, Sims can be stupid! 😛
Because in the end, why would we want to just see stuff we see every single day in our daily lives in a video game? If we come back to the question of why are the Sims games so fun, it is simply because even if it simulates life, you can do amazing stuff that won’t happen that much in daily life, witness situations that are so mind-bogglingly weird that it makes leading those Sims’ life worth it. To me, the Sims games are about living an exciting life, and lead it through your imagination, rather than being constrained to the rules of real life. This is why to me, it’s a lot more fun to play the Sims in a “non-serious” way, because it simply amplifies those factors which make those games good in the first place, in my opinion. Sure, playing by the rules of the game can be a fun to challenge to try, but I believe the full experience of the game in terms of the fun it can provide can only be accessed if we go beyond that.
That definitely was a shorter post than usual, but eh, I felt like talking about The Sims so why not? 😛
Other than that, how do you play any of the Sims games? Do you play normally or do you cheat? Do you have specific goals that you attempt to achieve or do you just follow the Sims’ life as it goes on and on and on? Say your thoughts!