Blast From The Past
Blast From The Past: The Sims

For Blast from the Past this week, we’re going back to the turn of the millennium, and the release of The SimsThe Sims was a game designed and created by Will Wright, Co-founder of Maxis. Owned by EA at the time, it was shunned by the Maxis board of directors, and EA decided it would be a good way to slot them further into the gaming market. Wright had had the idea of a virtual dollhouse in his head for a while, but due to the unorthodox nature of the idea he was worried it would be difficult to sell.However, it was created, and the series eventually went on to earn EA over $1Billion dollars. It was an astounding success.

Now, let’s go over some of the gameplay. The idea behind The Sims is that you control a character on his or her way through life. You create a character in the image you desire, changing the hair colour, clothing and personality, and then you move them in. You have complete freedom as to what to do with your character, and, unlike many other games, you can’t lose.

The game has a few key features to give you information about your character. There’s the happiness bar, that lets you know how happy your character is and what they need to work on, the friends list, the skills list and the job list. The Happiness bar is a summary bar, made up of varying levels of green and red. The more green in your happiness bar, the happier your character is. Your happiness is based on hygiene, hunger, comfort, socialising, having fun and sleeping. If your character is severely deprived of something, they will become unhappy very quickly. The friends list is just that, a list of all your Sim’s friends. You start off with none, but in the friendly Sim world, people with often wander around to say hello, so making friends isn’t difficult. The skills bar is a list of skills your character has/needs. In order to progress through certain career paths, you need to train your Sim in certain characteristics. These characteristics include Charisma, Creative, Cooking, Logic, Mechanics and Body. Charisma is how well you talk to people, cooking is useful for preparing meals, Creative allows you to improvise on guitars or paint pictures to sell, Logic defines how your character thinks, Mechanics is how your character repairs and fixes things and body is how fit your character is. Obviously, each of these is rather different, so each has advantages for specific job lines. For some careers, you will need to have a certain level in some skills in order to get a promotion. Your job list gives you details of your current job, your current pay, your working times and how well you’re doing. Remember, your character must be happy to get promoted.

A Sim on a Treadmill... Failing

Improving your skill set is easy, but can be expensive. A simple easel will help creative for a small fee, whilst the treadmill for your body workout costs considerably more. But no worry, go to work regularly, save up and you can afford it in no time.

The beauty of The Sims is that it is almost endlessly adaptable. You can tweak the house in a way you like, get your Sim to a suitable level, get them through their job and make them successful. And this can lead to some interesting anecdotes.

When playing the game once, we managed to get our Sim very close to a female friend, and my Sim married her and they had a child. When our Sim was at work, the new wife managed to set fire to our cooker – this then set fire to most of the kitchen. The fire brigade came and put the fire out, before consoling the suitably shaky woman and leaving. In this time, the baby started crying, but the hysterical mother had been too pre-occupied, so a social worker came and took it away, saying we weren’t able to look after it. This was a rather bad day as far as things go, but it gets worse. Whilst our Sim and his wife were sleeping, a burglar came into the house and managed to get away with the TV, the Sofa and many of the appliances that survived the kitchen fire, all without disturbing the burglar alarm that had been situated in the main hallway by the front door. Our Sims had obviously had a rubbish day, but we managed to make them happy rather quickly in the days that followed.

A Fire... Surely one of them could have put it out?

Something you can in the game is do a bit of designing. Admittedly, you can use a cheeky cheat to get the cash, but then you can spend the best part of an afternoon making yourself a mansion, with all of the appliances you could ever need need. A living room with enough space to hold a party for the entire town, a room full of skills equipment, a giant bedroom with an equally big balcony – complete with barbeque and dining table. All of this was garnished with an expensive touch of class: mahogany wood in the kitchen, hot tub in the bathroom and a swimming pool in the garden.

The Sims was created to be a computer based sandbox, where there is no right or wrong way to do anything. This is why it appealed to such a wide audience, and why its creator is listed in IGNs top 10 game creators of all time.

One Comment to “ Blast From The Past: The Sims ”

  • Vaughn.HApril 4, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    This was probably the start of the ‘casual’ games craze really. I remember my sister – who has never shown an interest in games – absolutely loving this.
    Personally I enjoyed it, but I think more for sadistic reasons, nothing beat humiliating your sim in front of others by making them wet themselves, or locking them in a burning building.

    Yes, I am aware how badly this reflects upon me…