“O vwa vwaf sna!”

In other words, “hello” or “nice to meet you” in the gibberish language we’ve come to know and love as Simlish. Introduced to us first back in the year 2000, The Sims was one of the most innovative life simulation games around. Developed by EA Maxis, the franchise that generated endless virtual realities became one of the best-selling series of all time. I, myself, invested nine straight hours into the original Sims when I first discovered its brilliance. Somehow, ahem, my sim even wound up in a romantic affair with the infamous Mortimer Goth (sorry not sorry, Bella.)

Eventually expansions were released, introducing even more opportunities for our personalized Sims. As if we weren’t already in love with The Sims, throughout these past sixteen years, we were presented with fresh content with enhanced visuals (i.e. The Sims 2, The Sims 3, and The Sims 4) In addition, comedic interactions or retorts between sims and sometimes inanimate objects provided Simmers with a decent dosage of humor. Yet somewhere down the line, The Sims lost its flare.

the sims depressed
I hear you, Tom.

I recently decided to revisit the franchise because I was one of the many who were obsessed. Relentlessly, I’d ask for my parent’s permission to go on the Internet (dial-up, of course) and I would download a disgusting amount of custom content so my sims would be the hottest in Old Town. Fashioning my sim to be as stylish as ever, I picked a beautiful lot, ‘rosebud’ed until I was sickeningly rich, found a hot guy, and was married – all in the span of 24 sim hours. It was the reality I had always wanted.

Not to mention, The Sims allowed me to live out my wildest dreams. Sure, maybe I’m not a superstar rocking it up in Studio Town alongside Avril Lavigne, but my sim is. Maybe I’m not a magician turning my enemies into vile toads, but my sim is. Granted, with the good always comes some bad. Multiple negative aspects that shaped the original Sims game resulted in plenty of dramatic eye-rolls.

For example, every day in Simland was a work day or a school day. Days of the week did not exist whatsoever and time was an illusion. With that in mind, if children occupied your household, it was more a nuisance than a blessing. If their grades deteriorated to an “F” (which was almost effortless), they’re banished to military school for all eternity. It was nice knowin’ ya, Cassandra Goth, I hope you find what you’re looking for out there.

the sims fire
Not sure what they expect to gain from frantically screaming at the fire, but ok.

On the contrary, The Sims could mold you into a very very morbid person. Drowning other sims in your underground pool by removing the ladder emitted laughter all around. Or, lets say, “accidentally” starting a fire to rid of the pesky neighbor no one likes. We’ve all done it. Watching the infamous Grim Reaper appear was exciting somehow and added a little extra flare to our simming experience…as awful as that sounds. Ahem. Moving on…

When The Sims 2 was released in 2004, I was blown away by its 3D interface and numerous levels of customization. Not to mention, sims now aged, genetics played a factor in their features, they acquired wants and fears, and even developed personal memories. Compared to the original Sims, The Sims 2 was a considerable jump in terms of fresh content and an entirely new simming experience. I was in love.

the sims 2 seasons
I, myself, am extremely happy tending to my garden during a lightning storm.

Eventually, state-of-the-art expansion packs were released alongside The Sims 2. My heart had never been so jubilant. The bittersweet moment of sending my sim teenagers off to college while simultaneously dealing with the fluctuations of the seasons molded a realistic experience unlike any other simulation game. Granted, alien abductions and lurking vampires aren’t entirely everyday interactions, but The Sims 2 provided a considerable amount of opportunities that never left me bored. Not to mention, the downloadable content other Simmers created was out of this world. Maybe my obsession derailed off the train tracks of sanity at one point, but I swear my 800 downloads all went to good use.

In a nutshell, The Sims 2 practically held me and many others in the palm of its simming hand. Typically speaking, from this point forward expectations were high for future installments of the franchise. By means of The Sims 3 being released in 2009, most of these anticipations were met. An open-world sim game was extravagant. Having the ability to travel freely via bicycle (and later on horseback) was a wonderful addition. Not to mention the endless modifications in Create-A-Sim. Adjusting a sim’s number on the scale from string bean to pleasantly plump body sizes produced a lifelike experience, no longer leaving any body type out.

the sims 3
Absolutely stunning, Barbara.

At first I was captivated with The Sims 3 expansion packs but many seemed to mirror The Sims 2 add-ons, with maybe a little extra something. I was not as enchanted as I once was. Don’t get me wrong, flaunting my horse around town was just as enjoyable as casting spells on my next door neighbor, but something was missing. I craved change, but then again, change can be awfully scary. The Sims 4 came to prove just that.

Released in 2014, The Sims 4 was…interesting. Visually, it was astounding and introduced emotion-driven gameplay, which was a noteworthy concept. In retrospect, the neighborhood view was weird and underwhelming. An open-world was nonexistent, but rather portrayed a closed-in environment. Not to mention the realization that pools weren’t available until a month or so after its release with an update.

I was bored with The Sims 4 within the first hours of playing. Being accustomed to the original games, I was not impressed. New is not always better, folks. Close, but no cigar. After its release and my expected disappointment, I’d occasionally revert back to the original Sims. Steps were taken to create a family and move them into a lot – only to quit the game and (maybe) revisit it six months later. Presently, I am slipping into an unhealthy habit of binging on The Sims 2 while disregarding all of my other responsibilities.

the sims 4 neighborhood
Bye, bye, open world.

That’s the thing about The Sims – you either play it for two minutes or you play for two days straight. There is no inbetween. Though The Sims has lost its enchantment throughout the years, I will forever feel nostalgic listening to its melodic soundtrack and venturing through the depths of Old Town. In my heart, I will always be a superstar rocking the stage in Studio Town while simultaneously raising seven cats. Most importantly, at least I’ll always have my virtual reality when reality is a sham.

Until next time…or in other words, “Dag Dag!”

  • Never got into the Sims (sad I know) but it’s fascinating how (solely based on your article) it appears that both Sims and Civilization underwent very similar transformations. And what clearly did not work for Sims 4 did very much help both Civ V and Civ VI. I have no idea if either played off the successes of the other but it’s curious to say the least…