At the start of the coronavirus lockdown, I decided against my better nature to download the game that had once taken over my entire life – The Sims (or specifically, The Sims 2).
And yes, I’m fully aware there are now two newer versions of this game (The Sims 3 and The Sims 4) – I have tried both and neither live up to The Sims 2 in my eyes… plus The Sims 2 is way cheaper nowadays!
Anyway, around March time for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to download this game to give me a hobby to do in the evenings. Even though I had a seriously bad addition to it when I was between the ages of 9 to 13.
It sounds silly, but I’m sure some of you can relate. I was addicted to the point of spending my entire school holidays and weekends stuck to my computer playing this game from morning ’til night. I didn’t go outside, I didn’t see my friends – I was lost in my own little simulation world.
I won’t lie, I was therefore a little apprehensive about downloading it again.
What if I got so absorbed into it that I neglected my current friendships, relationship, and my work? I am self employed and work from home, and am therefore at higher risk of sacking in a full day of work to play a computer game instead. What if my addiction came back??
And I’ll admit, for a few days, while I was reliving my childhood nostalgia, I did spend a good few hours each day building houses, businesses and community lots (the only thing I care about in The Sims, to be honest) and creating a family to play for all of 5 minutes before going back to building more lots.
But it just didn’t feel the same as when I was younger, with an imagination to run wild and get truly absorbed in the game. (Sadly) I am an adult now, with responsibilities and a to do list, and a conscience that tells me I have to stop or else I will not get clients and will not make money 🙈.
So thankfully I didn’t get sucked in and addicted, and actually I ended up getting bored of it after a couple of weeks and haven’t played it since early April! But, re-discovering The Sims and all its quirks made me reflect over some lessons, questions and weird insights to be learned from this game…
1. Are people really driven by one core aspiration/’life purpose’?
In The Sims 2, when you’re creating a Sim, you get to have some input into their personality traits – one of the main things being their Aspirations. The options are:
When you think about it, these core aspirations are a lot like Enneagram Types (this is a personality that sets out what people are motivated by in their life – for example ‘perfection’ or ‘wisdom’), but obviously more condensed down and fitting within the possible narratives of Sim lives.
I’ve often wondered what my Aspiration would be if I was a Sim, but it’s actually really hard to choose one. If you’ve ever played the game, you’ll know it’s also really hard to choose these for your Sims, as ideally you want them to want a mix of elements from each!
I definitely feel this is similar in life, where when you take one of these personality tests (such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator test I’ve spoken about lots before) you’re shown your core personality, but the goal is really to be as balanced as possible so you have the good elements from each personality type.
2. Cheating will give you a cool house and nice stuff, but will take all the fun out of life
Unless you have literally months worth of time on your hands, playing The Sims without using cheat codes to get more money could get very tedious and offer you very little room for creativity. As I say, building houses was my favourite part of the game and so I needed a decent budget to get creative.
But I always found that once I’d created the fancy houses for my Sims and played them for a bit, I got bored because I had nothing to really work towards. Also once I found out there were cheat codes for literally everything in their lives (eg. choosing what career level they were at, deciding who they were attracted to, and maxing out their ‘needs’) it felt like there was literally no point in playing anymore and it took all the fun away.
3. Don’t mess with electrics if you don’t know what you’re doing (or murphy beds, apparently)
God forbid a TV would malfunction and break down and an unqualified Sim with no ‘mechanical’ skills try and fix it… I swear 9 out of 10 times this would result in death by electrocution and the Grim Reaper appearing 😫.
In Sims 4 if you have a murphy bed, they die all the time from the bed falling on top of them too.
A good life lesson to be had right there.
4. Lighting is the most tedious part of houses and decor
Does anybody actually enjoy adding lights to every damn room in the house? It’s so boring and it’s equally boring in real life too. Fact.
5. It’s literally not possible to run a profitable business, get enough sleep, and have a social life
Typically, my favourite Sims 2 expansion pack (ie. an add on that gets you more feature) was the Open for Business pack, which allowed your sims to set up their own business (such as a restaurant, clothes boutique, florist etc.). It allowed you to hire staff, set profit margins, use sales tactics and more and I loved doing all this as a kid.
However playing this as an adult (who runs their own business) is actually hilarious.
Because it is genuinely impossible to run a successful business on Sims 2 while also keeping your Sims needs (particularly their need for sleep and social interaction) fulfilled. I was honestly just laughing to myself because if that isn’t just the most realistic part of the whole game I don’t know what is…
6. It seems really really easy and fun to be an architect and design Grand-Designs-Worthy house, right?
I truly believe that my generation have been given seriously unrealistic expectations when it comes to home ownership and general real estate dreams thanks to Sims 2.
Because of this game, since age 9 I was dead-set that my ultimate life goal was to design and build my own house due to how easy and fun it felt in this game. That combined with nightly episodes of Grand Designs and bloody Kevin McCloud, I’ve really been set up for disappointment.
It’s not that I don’t believe it’s something I could ever achieve; I’m not one for limiting beliefs. BUT, somehow I don’t think it’s as easy as I’ve been tricked into thinking…
7. Never get a haircut because it looks good on The Sims
For some strange reason, I decided age 11 that I wanted to look like a Sim, and became obsessed with this particular short haircut on the game. At the time I had really long hair and I begged my mum to take me to the hairdresser to get this exact style.
For reference, my mum’s style of parenting has always been very much: go and do what you want so that you learn from your own mistakes. Honestly some of the outfits she used to let me wear outside growing up would make you burst out laughing; think platform boots and fluffy pink berets and that’s all I need to say…
Anyway, she let me make a mistake and all I can tell you is that human hair does not behave like Sim hair which is made out of pixels!
Also I was only 11; I didn’t own straighteners, and I didn’t know how to style my hair. This should never have been allowed but it happened and basically I ended up with a hair cut I hated for at least 2 years 😭.