The Sims and Me
The Sims have been a staple in my gaming gallery for about 17 years now.
Wow, 17 years. Which means my gaming experience with the Sims is about to reach the status of adulthood. When I first started, I assumed the possibilities were endless when it came to game play. I would spend hours on the base game and then Maxis started to release expansion packs and now my Sims could go on vacations, dates, become a superstar, have pets and so much more. Fast forward to the announcement of Sims 2 and I was giddy with excitement from simply thinking about the new adventures my Sims would take on. Little did I know the Sims team would bring us all the way back to base game features.
My Sims who were once able to own pets, throw parties, and own a business are now back to chillin’ in the house and working. The very same thing happened with Sims 3 and now with the most current title, Sims 4. With each new release of the Sims series, we were right back at square one and needed to buy expansions packs just so we could have features we had in the previous series. I’m sure you can see how that can get old if you have been a veteran player and playing the game since the original.
In this article, I will discuss the Sims playing experience and how I envision a system that will benefit EA, custom content/mod creators and Simmers. Please note, this is part one of the series, stay tuned for part two.
The Sims Blind Spots
First can we admit that we all have blind spots when it come to acknowledging and understanding lifestyles and experiences that are not our own? Our blind spots have blind spots and some of us try to fill in those blind spots by reading and talking to others whose experiences differ from our own. With that being said, there are some experiences we are not able to fully understand unless we have lived those experiences. Attempts to portray an experience that isn’t your own can easily fall short at best or at worst it mocks those who have lived those experiences.
As we encourage EA to hire employees from various backgrounds so they can better portray those nuanced experiences, in game, we also have to understand that one or two maybe even three people cannot speak for an entire group. Some life experiences will still fall through the cracks but the Sims team will continue to do themselves a disservice if they think only diversifying their staff will fix their blind spot issue.
Sims Mod Community
In my 17 years of playing the sims, I’ve seen the developers incorporate some very progressive features. From allowing same sex Sims to get married to creating a CAS gender feature that goes beyond what is considered the “default” male/female binary. While, The Sims team has made large strides to diversify their game the game is still lacking when it comes to representing various life experiences. (Those blind spots I was talking about) One way Simmers have managed to compensate for this deficiency from EA has been through creating custom content and mods.
I still remember the first mod I downloaded. It was a cute ballet dance set and your Sim children could practice ballet dance moves by using a ballet barre and mirror. That little mod brought so much joy to my life especially since I figured out how to install it without messing up my whole game. Not only did I learn how to install mods and custom content, I also learned how to install my own custom paintings. It was small, but you couldn’t tell me; nor my Sims, nothing when I hung up my Aaliyah paintings all over their room. My game finally started to reflect me and the things I was in to.
In addition to adding features to enhance and personalize sims game play, the mod community has helped simmers simply play their game. The Sims 3 was a glitchy hot mess for me. Whether on Mac or PC the game would run perfectly fine until installing that one expansion pack that would ruin everything. When the incident first occurred, I assumed the issue was my Mac computer. When I read the forums, plenty of people said the sims 3 wasn’t designed for Mac computers and the conversion to allow the game to be played on Mac computers was done by a third party. Now, that should not be an excuse because EA stated on the packaging the game could be played on both Mac and PC. After numerous calls to support and research online I chucked it up as a loss.
When I finally got a PC, the first thing I did was install all of my sims 3 games so I could enjoy the sims experience I missed out on. Everything worked out fine until Island Paradise. The game would freeze and crash regularly. After reading through the forums I noticed a large number of simmers experienced the same problem. I assumed the sims developers would release an update but nothing ever came. Fortunately, a generous soul in the Sims community created a mod that fixed the issues. One of the modders in the community discovered there was a routing issue in the expansion pack that would cause multiple Sims and vehicles to get stuck, in the game. The stuck items would cause a lot of games to freeze and crash. So the Simmer created a mod that would regularly clear out stuck items in your game and correct the issue. All in all, the Sims mod community not only helps you personalize your game they also help some Simmers just play their game.
Read that again. I had to depend on a user created mod to play my sims 3 game. EA had my money but I had to rely on a non EA game developer to fix my game so I could play with no issues.
Our Guest Writer is none other than Thumbstick Mafia’s Co-founder Sharkyshood. You can find her on her website, twitter or whenever she blesses us on stream or YT. Look out for the second part and conclusion to this article – watch this space.
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