30 Days of Video Games: Day 4
And on the fourth day, Khinjarsi brought her answers to the most embarrassing of questions.
Day 4: Your Guilty Pleasure game
I’m at an age now where I embrace most things in my life. I still have toys from my childhood, I still listen to cheesy tunes from the 90’s and I still play the games I played as a kid. Some of those games have evolved into cult classics; Theme Hospital, Dungeon Keeper and Sim City to name a few. There are games I have played that haven’t grabbed the attention of vast numbers of gamers, but still hold up well, like Vib-Ribbon, Phoenix Wright and Monster Hunter. Then there are games that I play when I need a mental pick up, or something to dull the mind (and the demons within). The guilty pleasure. That game, ladies and gentlemen and anyone in between, with or without, is The Sims. The whole franchise.
I started young with this one, way back when with The Sims, and its hundreds (not literally) of expansions. Despite the limitations, The Sims provided hours of entertainment, allowing me to create “living” dolls houses, complete with jobs, relationships and eventually pets and magic. The music still brings a nice haze of rose across my mind.
In 2004, Maxis and EA improved on The Sims with, predictably, The Sims 2. It kept the base ideas of creating and guiding a family through their lives, but upgraded the tech, added huge amounts of changes and made what I still think is the best version of the game. Now your families could watch their children grow, experience the joys of puberty, and ideally die of old age, and not of drowning in the pool. Everything was upgraded and made fancy, and even the music got an upgrade with actual, well known real life performers translating their songs into Simlish.
After another hundred million expansions and “Stuff packs”, The Sims 3 came along. I feel this version took a step back in terms of what could be done, but I don’t think it’s a terrible game. It is more open world than the previous incarnations; your Sim can now roam the world without loading screens, and you can watch them go to the park or to the stores nearby without having to call a taxi every time.
I can’t say much about The Sims 4, as I haven’t played it. Judging by the reports and article about the game at and around release, it wasn’t the best received by the critics.
So why do I consider The Sims a guilty pleasure? Is it the joy of drowning Sims? Is it watching the children in the first game get shipped off to miltary school if they missed school or didn’t do their homework? Is it for the genetics system that was in play from The Sims 2 onwards? Partly. The genetics were fun to play with, especially The Sims 2 Pets. Yes it’s all those things, and more.
It’s the chance to create new lives, however simulated. It’s a chance to play God and do things your human IRL self couldn’t or wouldn’t do. Want a super fit Sim who is a bit of a gold digger? Go ahead. Want to be a crazy cat lady? You can. Feel the need to murder someone, but society generally frowns upon it? That’s what the Build tool is for! The Sims allows me to live the mundane but toy with the fantasical. It allows me to create houses and civil buildings to my heart’s content. It allows me to be someone else.
It is also a guilty pleasure because in the gaming community, The Sims is considered by some to be a game for teenage girls (see Zero Punctuation by Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw). And teenage girls are apparently not a welcome addition to the gaming community? It is a ‘girl game’, and girls (unfortunately) still get a hard time from some people in the gaming community.
My final reason is more personal. Not in a traumatic experience way, but I feel sometimes that time spent mindlessly playing/watching The Sims could be better spent. I do other things whilst playing, particuarlly if I’m playing The Sims 3, but Sims still need supervision, and to that end, I’m still spending time and energy at the computer.
I guess like all guilty pleasures, I can’t fully explain my love for The Sims. I am proud to say I’ve grown up playing it, and it’s actually a fun outlet for the architect in me. I enjoy it, and it brings me fun and some relaxation. It makes me happy, and that’s all I ask.
Tomorrow, I get to take a deep look inside myself and ask “What Game character you feel you are most like (or wish you were).”
Thinking caps on.