I Hate The Sims, and You Can’t Change My Mind
By: Katelyn Vause
As I write this, I am bracing myself for the pushback. “How can you hate The Sims?! Even people who don’t like video games like The Sims.” Well, I’m here to tell you that this series has never received an ounce of my love, despite multiple attempts by multiple people across the decades.
Here’s the thing. I conceptually understand the appeal of The Sims. You can live the life you’ve always dreamed about (unless you starve yourself due to your terrible cooking skills or remove the ladder from the pool). You can build a mansion (unless you run out of money). You can have a lovely romance (unless you can’t follow the conversations with your potential partner or accidentally screw it up somehow).
My first encounter with The Sims was in high school. I was at a friend’s house, and she wanted to show me one of her games. I can’t remember which version of The Sims it was, but I do remember almost instantly thinking, “Yeah, not for me.”
I was charmed by the style, but the weird mix that made up the substance of the game was incomprehensible. Talk to other people in a nonsense language only vaguely clarified by images that appear above their head? Cook macaroni and cheese for dinner for a week straight because it’s the only recipe you can get right? Watch the dirty dishes pile up and hate yourself for not washing them? Get fired from your job for picking the wrong option of letting your Journalism students bend the school rules?
Actually, let’s pause here: Job?????? Thank you, Sims, I have truly escaped the trappings of this reality by playing your game.
Sure, you can embrace the goofiness and all is well. But here’s the problem with this game: More than half of it is just you doing what you do every day, but with a timer in the form of a bar that steadily gets redder as time passes. Cook, eat, clean, go to the bathroom, work, bathe-all of this is stuff you already do. (And I have yet to meet someone who enjoys managing their bladder).
I know I am not the first person to make this observation. I know others have made this critique about The Sims and games like it, including Animal Crossing. What separates Animal Crossing from The Sims, at least in my eyes, is the magical realism element that comes with living with a bunch of humanoid animals. Yes, I know there are expansions for various Sims games that add stuff like vampires. But that is an expansion, not a guaranteed experience.
Another complaint: Sims games make you extremely aware of your own mortality, and I do not like that. It is weirdly easy to kill a Sim, and very distressing when the Grim Reaper shows up. If you do a self insert, this experience is doubly distressing. I do not need to be reminded that we are on a train that does not stop and will one day crash, and all I will have done with my limited time on this giant sphere is decorate my house with too many plants.
The voyeuristic element of Sims games has always been a bit creepy to me. The fact that you can watch your Sim use the bathroom (blurred out, but still) is disturbing. Even Red Dead Redemption II, one of the most immersive games in existence, does not make you take Arthur Morgan to the outhouse and then watch.
Also, why would you want to watch your Sim use the bathroom? I’m pretty sure you can mess with them while they’re in there, but that is downright cruel.
Simlish. It is a cursed series of sounds that makes me angry. The fact that they sometimes get real artists to do Simlish cover songs is amusing, but it does not change the fact that this noise should not exist. I don’t have anything else to add here.
Perhaps I’m being too hard on The Sims. Perhaps the point is the goofiness, the unpredictability, the uncanny valley in just the wrong places.
Even if that is the point, I just can’t bring myself to play for more than a few minutes.
Like oil and water, The Sims and I can coexist, but never quite create a cohesive mixture.
Thank you for sticking it out through this essay, though I have no doubt 95% of you were seething by the end. The best part? It’s April 1, so it’s up to you to decide if I was joking or not! (Good luck). As always, reach out to us in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org.