This week in the year 2000 one of the best selling-video games of all time hit the shelves. It offered gamers the ultimate life-simulation experience. That game was, of course, The Sims. The legendary Sims game series is celebrating its 18th anniversary and since its debut all those years ago the game has sold nearly 200million copies worldwide. It’s also been widely recognised as a pioneer of sandbox gaming. The original PC game went on to spawn three sequels, an array of expansion packs and special editions, as well as branching out into other gaming platforms including Playstation, Xbox and mobile apps. The Sims enables players to create entire families, build their dream homes, open businesses and live out just about any other real-life experience within the fictional Sims universe. Trying to articulate to the non-converted exactly why this video game is so brilliant can be difficult due to its lack of fantasy element, but there are so many aspects of this game that truly make it the greatest of all time. Here are some of the reasons why that’s the case.
Perhaps the best part of this iconic game series are the Sims themselves. For those who aren’t familiar, the Sims are the characters you either play as or interactive with throughout the game and one of the first requirements of The Sims is to create your very own – which is awesome. Creating your Sims is arguably the most important element of the game: as a player you are responsible for deciding everything down to their physical appearance, their outfits and personality traits. One might ask why creating a customised human being or family makes for a good video game, but having the chance to create your idea of the perfect human or family gives players a sense of freedom and power that can’t be experienced on other games. Throughout the game, players get to see their Sims progress through life, which includes dealing with emotions, forging careers and even facing death. Although the game is not representative of reality, there is definitely an emotional element to The Sims that players can relate to.
One of the most rewarding elements of The Sims is having the option to build and decorate your own home. Again, players are more than aware that these dream homes are of course fictional, but that doesn’t make it any less exciting and gratifying. Throughout the game your Sims are required to earn a living, just like the rest of us, and there’s no better way to enjoy the fruits of your Sims labour than to splurge on over-the-top homes and decor for your Sims to enjoy. Much of the appeal of developing your own house is the freedom you have as a player. Want a swimming pool on the roof? You’ve go it. This can be especially fun if your Sims are bringing in a hefty pay-check or you have access to the get-rich-quick cheat codes. Expansion packs
As an avid Sims player I had always been satisfied with the original format, but it wasn’t long before players around the world were introduced to the first expansion packs. These allowed users to install and explore brand new elements of life, including career paths and relationships, which were previously not available for players to experience in the original video game. With time, the packs became more elaborate and allowed users to buy cars for the first time, adopt pets and even go to university. Players of The Sims also have the option of installing special features to their gaming experience with additional releases known as stuff packs. These optional installations give users the chance to explore updated outfits and household objects for their Sims to enjoy, as well as the chance to enjoy seasonal celebrations such as Christmas and Halloween. Character history One of the most underrated aspects of The Sims gameplay are the characters who already exist within the Sims universe. These pre-made characters can be found throughout Sim neighbourhoods such as Pleasantview and Strangetown, and many of them have incredible back stories. Players may be too focused on their own creations to even notice the juicy back stories of characters who are already in existence, but it’s important you don’t miss out. Iconic Sim characters such as Mortimer Goth, Dina and Nina Caliente and The Curious family have a history that includes adultery, gold digging and even alien abduction. It sounds like something straight out of a bad soap opera, and that’s precisely what makes it so fantastic. Life simulation
For many, the concept of living out everyday aspects of life, such as raising a family or going to work, within a video game might be hard to grasp. Many would argue that gaming should be about exploring universes that give players a more unrealistic experience in order to achieve a sense of escapism. While that is a valid point, I believe the reason The Sims has been so successful is due to the fact it aims to simulate aspects of real life. The Sims gives users the ability to form a life that they most desire and this requires players to go to work, build relationships, manage feelings and even raise children in order to fulfil their character’s needs and aspirations, which may be a reflection of the players needs and aspirations in the real world. This unique style of game play is why I believe The Sims has become such a phenomenon, because, although the game reflects a both literal and figurative animated version of life, it is ultimately a relatable experience.
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