You really can live in a simulation: the impact of “The Sims” franchise

“The Sims” franchise opened up a whole new world (literally) of possibilities for players and continues to produce an environment where all people are welcome and able to play the game to their liking. Having celebrated its 20th anniversary on Feb. 4, “The Sims” franchise, a true household name in the gaming community, remains relevant because, not only are “The Sims” titles popular, but they’re forward-thinking and have often been regarded as huge game-changers for the gaming industry. Let’s take a look at the different impacts the Sims franchise has had on the gaming community.


It was out of the box

The idea of “The Sims” had been pitched a number of times since 1993, but it wasn’t until 1995 that it was accepted by EA Games. After developer Will Wright suffered a house fire, he got the idea to create a game that attempted to simulate real life. Since its release in 2000, the franchise has sold millions of copies between its four base games, not including the many expansion packs and extra downloadable content made available as add-ons to each base game.


Large female player base

“The Sims” franchise has a large female player base. While originally the producers were concerned about this as it was not a game especially geared towards men, it has proven only that there is a larger population than what was originally thought of women who are willing to play games that are different and unique.


Not only does the game have a large female player base, but it also has a large percentage of female developers working on it. While times are slowly changing, in the gaming industry, women have found it exceedingly difficult to be taken seriously and be able to really get a hand on producing and developing games. This is why it is so important and wonderful that nearly half of the developers working on “The Sims” franchise are female.


One of the first games to introduce same-sex relationships

The original game was also one of the very first video games produced by a well-known developer to introduce same-sex relationship options for players. While all sims are technically bisexual and able to pursue relationships with either the opposite or same sex, the way the game addressed same-sex relationships has changed and evolved with each game. 


While in the original “The Sims,” your sim could date and move in with a sim of the same sex. The relationships changed slightly more in “The Sims 2,” wherein during the creation of the sim, there is a preference scale that the player is able to set and same-sex sims are able to be united in a “joined-union.” While the autonomous actions made by the sim are affected by the scale, the player can choose to become romantically involved with other sims that are not the preference set by the scale. This mechanic was carried over in “The Sims 3,” but not explored as much as the autonomy of the sim created by the player changed to be more controlled by the player rather than the presets in the game.  However, “The Sims 3” introduced the “married” title for sims who were same-sex. In “The Sims 4,” the most recent installment of the franchise, players are given the most control over the sims out of all the games. The player has complete control over who their sim dates, moves in with and marries. While there is no longer a preference scale during the create-a-sim stage, the player is able to control who the sim is romantically involved with. “The Sims 4” has also introduced a lot more support from the developers of the LGBTQ+ community, even including an expansion pack with items customized for pride.


Possibilities for creative freedom

One of my favorite things about “The Sims” franchise isn’t actually the game itself, it is the large creator community that surrounds it. “The Sims” games have always been easily modifiable, making a perfect game for content creators who may want to try their hand at programming game mods. Custom content made by fans of the franchise are more easily accessible than ever, truly allowing the player to customize their game to make it more enjoyable and fit their preferences. The modifications available for “The Sims” games let people practice creativity and storytelling in a modern and fun way. It is the mods and custom content that truly makes the game special and the acceptance of people’s creations by the developers that encourages creativity for the fanbase.

Photo: F. Krumm

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