What is massive in size and scope, ever expanding, thrives off of community engagement, fosters seemingly limitless boundaries, and is truly the definition of freedom within the gaming world? None other than The Sims 3 for PC and Mac. Originally released in 2000, the franchise has since produced two sequels (Sims 1 and Sims 2), dozens of expansion packs, and has evolved into a household name.
The Sims is quite possibly one of the weirdest ideas to hit the video game industry since its foundation. Gaming typically revolves around stepping into another person’s shoes and embracing the things that you cannot in the real world. Of course it’s fun to play Grand Theft Auto and reduce a city to utter carnage, because there is absolutely no way to experience such unhindered “fun” without consequences in reality. We love to play as military badasses much as Big Boss or a CoD lieutenant because most of us just aren’t that cool in our everyday lives.
The Sims, which focuses on controlling everyday characters throughout their ordinary lives, seems to contradict the point of escapism that video games often provide. Everyday tasks such as going to the bathroom, cooking dinner, and looking for a job are major components to the experience in the Sims universe. I always used to wonder, “Why would ANYONE want to play this game!” And after a chance encounter as a kid, I not only received my answer but I became hooked on the series, and I have been ever since.
I’ve been playing The Sims for about 10 years now, since the original game on PC. I can remember shrugging off the commercials and constant assertion that the original Sims would revolutionize gaming. At that time, I couldn’t imagine playing anything beyond the scope of The Legend of Zelda, Goldeneye, and Final Fantasy. Action, adventure, and RPG was my mantra until I was forced to “try” The Sims by an insistent friend while I was still a youngin’ in middle school.
What I experienced was an unusual desire to keep playing despite the mundane nature of what I was accomplishing. I wasn’t saving the world with a hero protagonist, or fighting bad guys with super powers, I was just controlling someone as he embarked on his regular day. I was use to action-packed moments, epic-boss fights, and memorable sequences from late N64 titles and the next generation PS2, yet The Sims was somehow able to captivate and retain my sporadic childhood attention span, and the rest is history.
Every so often in between lulls in my Gamefly queue or an insufferable lack of games to play, I often depart to my PC and play The Sims 3. The beauty is, within the grandiose scale of The Sims 3, it is virtually impossible to run out of things to. Every few months EA releases new expansion packs and additions that enhance gameplay by adding new options, locations to visit, objects to buy, and choices for your Sims. Even without the monetary additions, any hint of boredom during play can easily be cured with a little creativity.
With a little preparation and a few mouse clicks, players can easily transform their Sims’ happy, healthy lives, into absolute chaos. Have your Sims overstayed their welcome? Instruct them to go for a dip in the swimming pool and delete the ladder. A gruesome and comical struggle to stay afloat will ensue resulting in a visit from the Grim Reaper.
Options are endless and new content is always being added by official sources and also from other players around the world. Everything from objects to decorate your home, outfits and hairstyle’s for your Sims, and even new neighborhoods and families to explore are available for free at thesims3.com which elevates replayability to unparalleled levels. Each time you play, you can choose to continue with the same family, or create an entirely new one in a different location of your choosing. I for one like to continue family legacies, playing from parent to child, over generations.
My current Sim’s name is Sanguine Dremora. He is inspired by the Daedric Prince of debauchery from the Elder Scrolls series. I knew that any character who has domain over the darker natures of man, such as lust, sin, sloth, gluttony, and greed would serve as a very interesting character to play as. My Sanguine is a world traveler, a martial arts expert, and a leader of the political world. I forgot to mention, he has about 7 children in 3 different countries from several different women. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.
I’ve downloaded representations of a ton of video game characters from Solid Snake and Dante, to Faith Connors from Mirror’s Edge and Jill Valentine. Sometimes boredom gets the best of me and I make Sims just to see what their children will end up looking like.
I know that the Sims isn’t for everyone. Hardcore shooter fans might want to look the other way for example, but don’t count the series out. I once viewed the franchise with great disdain, but I am now a fully-fledged-fan. From vampires and alien abductions, to time machines, human-eating plants, and ancient curses; the hilarity and amusement that embodies The Sims series is truly immense.
The games aren’t just about experiencing life in a video game, but about how seemingly routine activities can become larger-than-life with the aid of humor, exaggeration, and most of all creativity. If it appeals to tens of millions of players worldwide, it might just catch your eye too.