Sims 3 and New Year’s Resolutions
Kelly working on her novel in the Sims 3. Game copyrighted, EA Games
Two years ago I tried something different to inspire my New Year’s’ resolutions—playing the Sims 2 Double Deluxe edition. I had noticed that the Sims encourages its users to lead better lives. How? By simplifying our basic needs until it makes it look easy to lead a good life. This helps you realize that sometimes it really can be that easy to achieve your goals if you just follow the right steps. It’s also just a fun game that’s popular with millennials, since it boils life down to its simplest form and serves as a vehicle to test-out certain fantasies.
I originally started playing the Sims when I was unemployed (fresh out of grad school), loveless and overweight. But after playing the Sims for a month, I had accomplished all of my New Year’s resolutions including finding a job and the man of my dreams (who is, coincidentally, now my husband). Besides the fact that the Sims taught me to check all possible job postings every day until I found something (it helped me believe the job was out there, I just had to look hard and this was during the worst part of the recession), it also taught me that the whole “hit a guy on the arm and run off” approach to dating was a little out-of-date. Through clever clicking and different combinations of positive actions directed at my target—like admire, share interests, charm, chatting etc.—I learned a straight-forward (and, albeit, systematic and computerized) way to lay a foundation that led to love, instead of all that “game-playing.” I also joined a gym for the first time in years and started working-out 4 days a week, religiously. I had never accomplished such solid cardio in my life, but something about the way my characters actually lost weight quickly when they worked-out encouraged me. In life, it just takes much much longer to see the results, but the Sims reminds you that if you work-out, you will lose weight. It’s undeniable causality. After about three months of this new working-out habit, I lost 20 pounds.
Now its a couple years later and I have some things to work on: I’d like to lose 30 pounds (Yes, I unfortunately slowly gained that back after cutting the gym to save money), and I’d like to finish the novel I’ve been working on for 20 years. Yes that certainly sounds lofty and like the novel must be awesome after 20 years, but it actually sucks. I don’t work on it often enough because it’s been so long that I feel discouraged. But every time I sit down and play the Sims 3, what do I have Kelly do? Work on the novel. In fact that’s all I’ve let her do and she’s gotten it published 60 times over. If I can do it virtually, why can’t I do in real life after 20 years of sometimes hard work? That’s when I started turning off the game and pulling up a draft I haven’t touched in a year, because why spend so much time playing the Sims just to have Kelly attempt to get her novel published over and over again when I could actually do that in real life and hopefully get a real result? So there’s the Sims again, encouraging me to keep trying. If you do keep working at something you’ll eventually see results.
Sure it’s easier in computer world, and if you get so hooked on the Sims that you don’t go out and live life instead of just playing a game, you will certainly fail at your resolutions, but it’s nice to see these things work out virtually first. It helps you realize that anything is possible (except if you happen to have the new console version of the Sims 3 and would like to be able to push a button to use your Karma to completely clean your house with one click).
So I say take a break, play the Sims, watch for what makes that diamond hovering above your head turn white and apply it to your life. Then you’ll have the perfect New Year’s’ resolutions and if you follow by example, they may actually stick. Though if your New Year’s resolution is to not play the Sims so much, playing the Sims probably won’t help you.