This week marks the 20th anniversary of Maxis’ beloved people simulator, The Sims, and we’re celebrating with this AVQ&A:
What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in The Sims?
I didn’t personally do this, but the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen in The Sims is completely turning off any capacity for self-sufficiency that the poor little people were capable of. The Sim had to pee? Walk to the bathroom and click on the toilet. Hungry? Walk to the fridge. It’s like playing on hard mode, which makes sense, but the horrible twist is when the Sims look up at the camera, bawling or waving their arms for attention as they complain about being unable to go to the bathroom. Just imagine starving to death because someone forgot to drag you to the fridge two feet away. That’s dark.
When I used to play The Sims fairly (without any cheat codes), I’d skimp on every last thing I could to save money. This meant buying a cheap plot of land and having all their cheap furniture placed outside. Everything was without walls except for the bathroom because Sims apparently have a complex about that sort of stuff. Once I saved up enough to build the house I wanted, I left the old furniture outside. Why? Because, for whatever reason, my Sims would get confused if I removed it and would still go outside and use the old furniture, even with the new expensive stuff inside their brand-new house.
We were sick puppies, my pals and I, and found innumerable ways to torture our Sims. Our favorite was to build a shed out back and lock in a Sim with nothing but a bed, some snacks, and some art supplies. All they had was time, so they rather quickly began to produce works of art, which we promptly sold for as much money as possible. After a while, though, our incarcerated Sim got bored and depressed, leaving the easel unattended. So, after a little trial and error, we discovered that a fully stocked bar was all the cure they needed. From there on out, our poor Sim spent his days painting while obliterated on whiskey sodas. And we made a fortune!
Instead of trying to accomplish something grand via my Sims creation, I preferred to watch as my characters struggled to figure out the most basic things. The first time I played, I set my Sim’s intelligence level so low that her big goal was simply leaving the house. Actually, I think it was just some kind of ambition or determination characteristic that she was lacking. Whatever the case, I watched for roughly 15 minutes as the Sim shook her head at me and refused to make her way to a door. I eventually reconfigured it so she was less of a slacker; she even tried to figure out how to get money from her mom for her college textbooks.
Infidelity. Snark. Poolside brawls. Is this the latest iteration of Real Housewives? No, it’s just my needlessly chaotic Sims house. I promise that when I first played, my intent was to guide my makeshift family through life with intelligence, kindness, and hard work. But that quickly became monotonous, and before I knew it, I was creating couples just to orchestrate breakups, taking every opportunity to lob a shady comment, and allowing affairs to just... happen. Did it make their career advancement difficult? Yes, it made it damn-near impossible, in fact. But I was never bored. And I like to think that they found love once I stopped playing Andy Cohen.
On my first few plays, I was perfectly content with going through the motions of first Sims game. I would recreate my childhood home as closely as possible, find a career and a partner my Sim loved, and watch as they started a life together. It was all kind of boring. So, I started murdering them. The easiest method was to convince my Sim to jump in the swimming pool, and then remove the ladder so they could no longer escape. For whatever reason, Maxis failed to program Sims with the ability to hoist themselves out of a pool without a ladder, so eventually, they would tire themselves out and drown.