There is no discernible reason why the recreation of mundane daily chores would be good entertainment, but for some reason The Sims is one of the most popular video games of all time. In it, you do nothing more than micro-manage the lives of your alter-ego by ordering him to sleep, eat, talk and shower. You organize social gatherings, dinner, and budget your time between work and play. You choose a career where you struggle not only to get promoted, but to be on time for the bus every morning.
In other words, for about $49 you’re buying the chance to be ‘entertained’ by recreating what you’re already doing in real life. The real life where you’re a loser for spending $49 on such a game.
I had understood computer games up until this point. It’s nice to escape for a few hours and become a general or a pirate or pretend that you would try and kill monsters, rather than run from them. I can understand wanting to simulate flying a plane, managing a business or even being a surgeon. But I simply have no idea why The Sims is the hit that it is.
Just like in real life, there seems to be no obvious reason for your existence. The game never really ends. Your raison d’etre seems to be little more than the acquisition of better furniture and bigger salaries. Your lifestyle is shallow and self-centered. You call on friends only if you have to, because social interaction is one of many meters you must maintain above a certain level. In that respect, it’s like Los Angeles.
If you don’t need to up your social meter, you forget your Sim friends and concentrate on the other meters: food, bladder, entertainment and hygiene are a few. Order your Sim to run to the bathroom, fix dinner, improve his charisma by talking to a mirror, watch TV and pay bills. Finally, you send him off to bed so he gets a good night’s sleep before catching the bus to work. If you’re forced to get up early to address other issues, you piss and moan and curse. They have captured the very essence of life.
As my real-life wife mocked me relentlessly, I created my Sim family. Having no imagination, I chose to recreate myself and my wife. I created a Sim version of me, a guy who had the same safe taste in clothing: blue jeans and a black shirt. My Sim-wife, like my real one, had long blonde hair. My real wife would never wear a Black Watch plaid mini-skirt and halter top, but this is a game and I am allowed a few liberties.
We moved in to a modest one-bedroom house and I immediately set about re-decorating with the 20,000 simulated dollars I had been given. Better furniture and appliances have more rewarding effects on your overall happiness and productivity, just as in real life. I shelled out good money for a quality bed (to make the most out of our sleep-time) and a decent stove.
We sought jobs. I chose the ‘Swindler’ career track and became a car salesman. My Sim-wife signed up as a Rock & Roll groupie. Unlike real life, I had no qualms with her associating with rock stars and coming home at 10am.
In short order we were both promoted. This meant extra cash, and I invested in a nice TV, desktop computer and a bookshelf. I devoted time and energy to making the Sim-wife content; talking with her and hugging her so as to get the relationship meter up into safe territory. Ironically, I worked hard to make my Sim-wife happy while at the same time making my real one question her judgment in marrying me.
It wasn’t long before we ran into simulated trouble. My Sim-wife failed to get up for work in time; three days in a row. She was fired. As the sole breadwinner, I continued to work my way up the ladder during the day while she milled about the house doing next to nothing. She’d eat, watch TV and play computer games. She left her plates all over the house and I was forced to hire a Sim-maid to come clean up after her every day. I was dog-tired, returning home from work daily with all my meters in the danger zone. No amount of task-juggling was helping to get my meters back in order. There simply weren’t enough hours in the simulated day. I was hungry, sleepy, lonely, bored, uncomfortable, and I had to go to the bathroom.
As a result of my low-meter readings, my mood was consistently on the verge of unhappiness. Having a bad mood is bad for the career; you won’t get promoted. Trying to correct the imbalances forces you to organize your time well – not my strong point in either life. I would invite a friend over for conversation, cook dinner, then take a shower. The friend would come by, ring the doorbell, wait, then leave. I’d invite the friend again, then watch cartoons to up my entertainment meter. The friend would arrive again, but I’d be so exhausted I’d go to bed, only to wake up and discover the dinner I had cooked earlier was now covered in flies. It was a cycle of misery, and if it were possible I would have become a Sim-alcoholic to escape from it all.
Losing the extra income from my Sim-wife’s job had hurt the household finances. At this point, my Sim-marriage was in danger. My wife only slept during the day. At night she’d watch TV, dance to the stereo, or invite friends over. I was becoming concerned, in a simulated way.
Late one night, Sim-wife was in the kitchen cooking. The stove caught fire. I woke up, pissed and moaned about waking up early, panicked, and then called the Fire Department. As the fire raged and my Sim-wife ran around the house shrieking, I decided to put out the blaze myself. I approached the burning stove with an extinguisher, caught fire, and burned to death right there in the kitchen. While my Sim-Wife burst into hysterics, my real one was amused to no end.
If you’re looking to escape from your life for a while by creating a miserable alternate one, I highly recommend this game. Look for a used version on eBay, quite soon.