The Sims

From Academic Kids

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The Sims
The Sims PC cover
Developer(s) Maxis
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Release date(s) January 2000
Genre Simulation/Strategy game
Mode(s) Single player
Rating(s) ESRB: Teen (T)

PEGI: 7+

Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X
This article is on "The Sims" video game. For games beginning with "Sim", see List of Sim games.

The Sims is a strategy/simulation computer game, created by game designer Will Wright and published by Maxis. First released in January 2000, and with over 6 million copies sold worldwide, it is heralded as the best-selling PC game in history[1] ( Like other Maxis games, such as the earlier SimCity (also designed by Wright), The Sims is sometimes described as a "god game": a game that lets the player create and control the lives of virtual people.



As with previous Maxis games, The Sims is a departure from most previous computer games, which tend to have a definite goal or objective. Instead, the game focuses entirely on virtual people called "Sims", placing the player in control of a "virtual dollhouse", controlling their daily activities such as sleeping, eating, cooking and bathing, to name a few. Will Wright, the game's designer, likes to refer to it as a "digital toy".


Instead of objectives, the player is encouraged to make their own choices and engage fully in an interactive environment. As such, the game has successfully attracted casual gamers. The only real objective of the game is to organize the time of their Sims to help them reach personal advancement goals.

Missing image
Title screen from a short promotional video for The Sims released on the SimCity 3000 installation CD.

Sims have a certain amount of free will, and although the player can instruct them to do something, they may decide that something else needs to be done first, or even outright ignore the player's commands. The player must make decisions about time spent in personal development, such as exercise, reading, creativity, and logic, by adding activities to the daily agenda of the Sims. Daily maintenance requirements must also be scheduled, such as personal hygiene, eating, and sleep. If the simulated humans do not receive the proper amount of maintenance, they will sicken and die. Furthermore, Sims need to have fun in their lives; if they don't, the fun level bar eventually lowers and they become depressed, but however depressed they become, they are unable to commit suicide (as they are not programmed to). They are, however, able to be nasty to other Sim characters by insulting them, slapping them and even attacking them. Financial health is simulated by the need to send the sims to find jobs, go to work, pay bills, and take advantage of personal development and social contacts to advance in their jobs.

This screenshot of The Sims shows a large family inhabiting one house.  The focus is currently on the -clad character, who can be identified by the green diamond over his head his portrait highlighted in the control bar.  By the color of the diamond and his statistics, the user can see he is currently very content.
This screenshot of The Sims shows a large family inhabiting one house. The focus is currently on the sunglass-clad character, who can be identified by the green diamond over his head his portrait highlighted in the control bar. By the color of the diamond and his statistics, the user can see he is currently very content.

In addition, the game includes a very advanced architecture system. In fact, the game was originally designed as an architecture simulation alone, with the Sims only there to evaluate the houses. During development it was decided that the Sims were more interesting than the houses and a legacy was born. (Incidentally, SimCity was originally designed only as a method for developers to create cities to include in a bomber game that Wright was creating.)

The inner structure of the game is actually an agent based artificial life program.

The presentation of the game's artificial intelligence is very advanced, and the sims will respond to outside conditions by themselves, although often the player/controller's intervention is necessary to keep them on the right track. The Sims technically has unlimited replay value, in that there is no way to win the game, and the player can play on indefinitely. It has been described as more like a toy than a game.

There are some limitations to The Sims, most notably that children never grow up to become adults, though babies do eventually become children. Also adult Sims never age, and there is no concept of a weekend. For example, the adult Sims go to work every day and the child Sims go to school every day.

Sims are directed totally on the basis of instructing them to interact with another object, be that a television set, a radio, or another sim. Sims may receive house guests, which are actually based on the sims of other game files. The player cannot control 'visiting' Sims, although it is important for Sims to interact with one another in order to develop a healthy social life.

Whilst there is no eventual objective to the game, a state of failure does exist as sims may die. The types of death include starvation, drowning, perishing in a fire, electrocution and by virus (contracted from a pet guinea pig, which can happen when its cage is left dirty). In addition, child sims can be sent to military school if their school grades remain at F for several consecutive days. When sent to military school, children never return to the family. Although considered a state of failure, many players occasionally deliberately mistreat their sims to observe the reactions. This can be done with no consequences if the game state is not saved.

The Sims uses a combination of 3D and 2D graphics techniques. The sims themselves are rendered as high-poly-count 3D objects, but the house, and all its objects are pre-rendered, and displayed dimetrically.

In 2002, The Sims became the top-selling PC game in history, displacing the game Myst. It has been a success in many ways—attracting casual gamers and female gamers (which account for 50% of sales)—unusual in a market traditionally dominated by young males. However, due to the game's immense success, questions have been raised about the game's values; notably concerns about the game's seemingly blatant consumerism—the most reliable way to become happy is to buy things. The game does take some account of this; a larger house may in fact make lives for the Sims more difficult as they take a longer time to walk around to do things.

That The Sims reflect aspects of reality makes the game itself of note, especially as virtually every entertainment program prior used one or more aspects of fantasy to entertain (from Disney characters to alien ships). Simple, real-life situations, such as adopting children or forming relationships (both opposite and / or same-sex) replace merely earning points and advancing to the "final boss level".

Open-ended gameplay has been done before in games, such as the farming-based simulation series Harvest Moon (originally released for the Super Nintendo), but The Sims has certainly gained popularity for this particular style of gameplay. Games such as Nintendo's Animal Crossing (for GameCube), have capitalized upon its success.

Simlish language

The characters in this series of video games speak a fictional language called Simlish. The language was co-created by improv comedians Gerri Lawlor and Stephen Kearin.


The Sims is one of the most heavily exploited computer game franchises ever. It has more expansion packs than any other game. Here is a partial list of expansion packs available for The Sims (more or less in chronological order):

  • The Sims: Livin' Large (released August 2000), also known as Livin' It Up: Adds more objects, events and Sims and the ability to have multiple neighborhoods.
  • The Sims: House Party (released March 2001): Adds party-related content, such as lighted dance floors.
  • The Sims: Hot Date (released November 2001): Allows Sims to pick up other Sims for romantic encounters in a new city environment.
  • The Sims: Vacation (released March 2002), also known as On Holiday: Allows the player to take Sims to various vacation destinations, such as beaches and the woods for camping.
  • The Sims: Unleashed (released September 2002): Gives Sims the ability to adopt and train a wide variety of pets and expands the neighborhood.
  • The Sims: Superstar (released May 2003): Allows Sims to visit a Hollywood-like town and become celebrities.
  • The Sims: Makin' Magic (released October 2003): Allows Sims to use magic and cast spells and introduces a new Magic Town area.

The Sims is now available as The Sims Deluxe Edition. It is not an expansion to the game, but a repackaging of the game along with the Livin' Large expansion and an editor, The Sims Creator to create sim skins.

A newer repackaging is available, called The Sims Double Deluxe. It includes The Sims Livin' Large, The Sims House Party, The Sims Creator tool and exclusive Double Deluxe content.

Another package, The Sims Mega Deluxe, was released on May 25, 2004. It includes the original game along with The Sims Livin' Large, The Sims House Party, and The Sims Hot Date.


The Sims Online

In December 2002, Maxis shipped The Sims Online, which recreates The Sims as a MMORPG, where actual human players can interact with each other. This sequel did not achieve the same level of success as the original The Sims game.

Although not entirely a flop, reviews for The Sims Online have been lackluster. Many reviewers have likened The Sims Online experience to an enormous chat room where few participants, if any, have anything worthwhile to say.

Of particular interest are reports that the community has degenerated heavily, verging on the anarchistic. Prostitution and other questionable activities are now commonplace. Naturally, this raises into question the ability for games such as this to be properly moderated.

The Sims 2

Maxis released The Sims 2 on September 14, 2004. The sequel takes place in a full 3D environment, as opposed to the combination 2D/3D ("2.5-D or Isometric") environment of the original game. Other additions to the original gameplay include Sims that grow from infancy to adulthood, then age and eventually die. This game features clear "days of the week" with obvious weekends for children to stay home from school, as well as "vacation days" to take time off work, an "Aspiration Meter" that increases and decreases as a Sim fulfills specific desires and experiences its worst fears, and "Aspiration Rewards" which are given to families when certain goals, like having a baby, are completed.

Each individual Sim has a specific aspiration, either Romance, Family, Fortune, Knowledge or Popularity, which affects their individual wants and fears. During the toddler and child life stages, all Sims have the aspiration to grow up, which is fulfilled by learning the essential life skills appropriate to those ages (including learning to walk and talk and being potty trained for toddlers and learning to study for children).

The Sims 2: University, the first expansion for The Sims 2, was released early in 2005. It allows young adult Sims, a new age group, to leave home and attend college. College consists of four "years." The first year the Sims must reside in dormitories that they share with an NPC roommate and have limited ability to modify. In future years, Sims can join fraternities, sororities, and secret societies. Sims 2: University also features a large amount of new objects.

The Sims 2: Nightlife, the second expansion for The Sims 2, will be released in September 2005. Similarly to The Sims: Hot Date expansion for the first Sims game, Nightlife will allow Sim characters to travel to a downtown area and date other Sims. Car objects are planned to be included in this expansion for the first time.


The Sims has been ported from Microsoft Windows to some video game consoles. Though sales have been respectable, the series is not nearly as big a hit as it has been on the PC.

A number of hand-held console versions of the game and a version for cell phones are also planned.

External links

Official sites

Fan and resource sites

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