The Sims (video game)
Microsoft Windows cover art
Edge of Reality (consoles)
|Publisher(s)||Electronic Arts |
Aspyr Media (Mac OS)
EA Games (consoles)
|Platform(s)||Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox[note 1]|
The Sims is a strategic life simulation video game developed by Maxis and published by Electronic Arts in 2000. It is a simulation of the daily activities of one or more virtual people ("Sims") in a suburban household near a fictional city. Players control customizable Sims as they pursue career and relationship goals. Players can also use their Sims' income to renovate their living space, purchase home furnishings, or clothing for their household. Players can also choose to pursue a social and successful life.
The game's development was led by Will Wright and the game was a follow-up to Wright's earlier SimCity series; Wright was inspired to create the game by Christopher Alexander's 1977 book A Pattern Language, and Scott McCloud's 1993 book Understanding Comics later played a role in the game's design. Seven expansion packs were released from 2000 to 2003, each of which added new items, characters, skins, and features.
Upon release, it garnered generally positive reviews and was described by Wright as being successful in attracting casual and female gamers. It also won several awards, and placed 31st on Time's The 50 Best Video Games of All Time list. Several sequels were released—The Sims 2 in 2004, The Sims 3 in 2009, and The Sims 4 in 2014.
The structure of the game is an agent-based artificial life program. The presentation of the game's artificial intelligence is advanced, and the Sims will respond to outside conditions independently, though often the player's intervention is necessary to keep the Sims on the right track. The Sims technically has unlimited replay value, in that there is no way to truly win the game, and the player can play indefinitely. It has been described as more like a toy than a game.
Sims are influenced by the player to interact with objects or other Sims. Sims may receive guests at their home lot, invited or not, from other playable lots or from unhoused non-player character (NPC) Sims. If enabled in the game's options, Sims have a certain amount of free will, allowing them to autonomously interact with their world. However, the player can override most of these autonomous actions by cancelling them in the action queue at the top of the screen. Unlike the simulated environments in games such as SimCity, SimEarth or SimLife, Sims are not fully autonomous. They are unable to take certain actions without specific commands, such as paying bills, finding a job, exercising, and conceiving children. Sims communicate in a fictional language called Simlish, which is mostly composed of blowing raspberries and saying nonsense.
The player can make decisions about time spent in skill development, such as exercise, reading, creativity, and logic by adding activities to Sims' daily agenda. Daily needs such as hygiene and eating can and must also be scheduled. Although Sims can autonomously perform these actions, they may not prioritize them effectively and can suffer consequences for neglecting their own needs. In addition, Sims must maintain balanced budgets and usually supplement an income by obtaining a job. Sims may earn promotions by fulfilling skills and maintaining friendships with others for each level, which lead to new job titles, increased wages, and different work hours. Alternately, Sims may create and sell various artwork and items at home.
While there is no eventual objective to the game, states of failure do exist in The Sims. One is that Sims may die, either by starvation, drowning, fire, or electrocution (or from natural causes/age in certain versions). When a Sim dies, a tombstone or an urn will appear (in later expansion packs the Grim Reaper will appear first), and the ghost of the deceased Sim may haunt the building where it died. In addition, Sims can leave the game for good and never return, or two adult Sims with a bad relationship may brawl, eventually resulting in one of them moving out. Children will be sent away to military school if they fail their classes or if they have not fulfilled their needs (especially when hunger is very low), a social care worker will take them away from their household and they are no longer returnable.
When the "Live" mode occurs in the game, the player may enter "Build" mode or "Buy" mode to pause time and renovate the house or lot. When the game begins, each family starts off with §20,000 simoleons (regardless of its number of members). These funds can be used to purchase a small house or vacant lot on the neighborhood screen. After purchasing a lot, a user may construct or remodel a house in Build mode or purchase or move furniture in Buy mode. All architectural and customizable features and furnishings in Build and Buy modes follow a square-tile system in which items must be placed on a tile. Walls and fences extend along the edge of a tile and can follow the edge of the tile or cross it diagonally, but furniture items cannot be placed on either side of a crossed tile. The base game contains over 150 items including furniture and architectural elements.
In addition, the game includes an architecture system. The game was originally designed solely as an architecture simulator, with the Sims there only to evaluate the houses, but during development it was decided that the Sims were more interesting than originally anticipated, and their once limited role in the game was developed further.
Players have a broad choice of objects that their respective Sims may purchase. Objects fall into one of eight broad categories: seating, surfaces, decorative, electronics, appliances, plumbing, lighting, and miscellaneous.
The original inspiration for The Sims was Christopher Alexander's 1977 book on architecture and urban design, A Pattern Language. Game designer Will Wright was inspired by the book's focus on functionality in architecture, as Alexander based his design principles on structural usability rather than aesthetic values. Wright wanted to create a simulation game about enabling human behavior and interaction through design. Scott McCloud's 1993 book Understanding Comics became a big influence on the design of The Sims later on, as it advocates a certain type of "collaboration" between designer and consumer and outlines the value of abstraction for getting readers or players involved with a story.
Will Wright started working on The Sims after releasing SimAnt in 1991. However, the game's concept was very poorly received by a focus group, so Wright had difficulty getting the project off the ground. He managed to convince his company to let him work on the project (codenamed "Project X" at the time) in the background while developing SimCity 2000 and SimCopter. He was lent one programmer for the project, Jamie Doornbos, who went on to become the lead programmer for The Sims. During the first few years of the project, Wright and Doornbos were primarily developing an open-ended system of character behavior. As the project continued, Wright found that the social aspect of the game turned out to be highly engaging, and the team started to focus more on the characters of the game, such as by letting Sims visit one another's houses and by implementing long-term relationships.
A demo of the game was presented at the 1999 Electronic Entertainment Expo. During a displaying in front of the press, two female characters at an in-game wedding fell in love and kissed each other. After the event, the relationship mechanics were further modified so the character's sexual orientation was set depending on the player's actions.
For the game's Japanese release, the game was renamed to SimPeople (シムピープル) to match the names of the other Sim games from Maxis.
The game music was composed by Jerry Martin, Marc Russo, Kirk R. Casey, and Dix Bruce. The game disc contains 37 tracks, of which 15 were published in 2007 as an official soundtrack album. Most of the tracks contain no vocals, but some of them feature Simlish lyrics.
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The Sims is credited with opening up modding to a new demographic, making it easy enough for "casual modders" to modify the game. The Sims was designed in a way that it would be easy to add user-created content to the game, with Will Wright stating in an interview that he wanted to put the player in the design role. Maxis released modding tools for The Sims before the game itself, resulting in a suite of fan-created mods being available at launch.
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The Sims has a total of seven expansion packs produced. Each expansion generally adds new items, characters, skins, and features.
|The Sims: Livin' Large (known as The Sims: Livin' It Up in Europe)||
||Adds new unconventional characters, careers, items, and features for the home.|
|The Sims: House Party||
||Gives players the ability and facilities to hold parties and gatherings in their Sims' homes. Drew Carey makes an appearance in the game if the player's Sims hold a good enough party.|
|The Sims: Hot Date||
||Adds new items, characters, and the ability for Sims to leave their homes and travel to new destinations. Adds new destination, "Downtown", composed of ten new lots. Introduces a revamped relationship system involving short- and long-term relationships. Adds ability carry inventory and give gifts to other Sims.|
|The Sims: Vacation (known as The Sims: On Holiday in the UK, Ireland, China and Scandinavia)||
||Introduces a new destination called "Vacation Island" where Sims can take vacations with family members or with other Sims and marks the first time Sims can stay on lots away from home. Adds ability to save the game while a Sim is on Vacation Island. Allows Sims to purchase or find souvenirs, stay at a hotel, or rent a tent/igloo.|
|The Sims: Unleashed||
||Introduces pets into the game. Allows dogs and cats to be treated as Sims rather than objects. Introduces gardening and expands original ten-lot neighborhood to over forty lots, with the added ability to rezone these lots for residential or community use. Allows community lots to be modified to shops, cafes, and other commercial establishments.|
|The Sims: Superstar||
||Allows Sims to become entertainment figures and includes representations of several famous personalities. Celebrities can make cameo appearances but cannot be controlled by the player, and include Avril Lavigne, Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe, Jon Bon Jovi, Christina Aguilera, Freddie Prinze, Jr., Sarah McLachlan, Jennifer Lopez and Richie Sambora. Adds new work and leisure items, and a new destination called "Studio Town", which functions as a workplace for celebrity Sims where regular visits may be required to maintain their fame and career, marking the first time where players can follow their Sims to work. Allows non-celebrity Sims to visit Studio Town for leisure.|
|The Sims: Makin' Magic||
||Introduces magic to the game and allows Sims to cast spells, forge charms, and buy alchemical ingredients. Introduces the Magic Town lots, which house vendors of magical ingredients and items and a number of magic-related mini-games. Introduces baking and nectar-making. Adds additional residential lots in Magic Town, which contain new aesthetic accents such as new grass textures, background sound effects, and a higher chance of growing magical items, marking the first time that Sims may live outside of the main neighborhood. Includes a disc with a preview of The Sims 2.|
|The Sims Expansion Collection||March 15, 2005||Volume One - The Sims: House Party and The Sims: Unleashed.|
Volume Two - The Sims: Hot Date and The Sims: Makin' Magic.
Volume Three - The Sims: Vacation and The Sims: Superstar.
|The Sims Expansion Three-Pack||November 1, 2005||Volume One - The Sims: House Party, The Sims: Unleashed and The Sims: Superstar.|
Volume Two - The Sims: Hot Date, The Sims: Vacation and The Sims: Makin' Magic
The Sims has been repackaged in numerous editions. These are not expansions in themselves, but compilations of the base game plus pre-existing expansion packs and additional game content.
|The Sims Collector's Edition||March 23, 2001||Core game and The Sims: Livin' It Up.||Europe|
|The Sims Party Pack||2002||Core game and The Sims: House Party.||Europe|
|The Sims Triple Party Pack||2002||Core game, The Sims: Livin' It Up, and The Sims: House Party.||Europe|
|The Sims Deluxe Edition||October 4, 2002||Core game, The Sims: Livin' Large, The Sims Creator (an editor used to create custom Sim clothing) and Deluxe Edition exclusive content (includes 25+ exclusive objects and 50+ clothing choices) on two CDs.||Worldwide|
|The Sims Collector's Edition 2||2002||The Sims Deluxe Edition, The Sims: Hot Date, and The Sims: Vacation||Australia|
|The Sims Double Deluxe||October 10, 2003||The Sims Deluxe Edition, The Sims: House Party, and Double Deluxe bonus content CD (containing exclusive African and Asian-themed skins, objects, walls and floors, as well as a selection of downloads from the official website).||Worldwide|
|The Sims Mega Deluxe||May 25, 2004||The Sims Double Deluxe and The Sims: Hot Date.||North America|
|The Sims Triple Deluxe||June 15, 2004||The Sims Double Deluxe and The Sims: Vacation.||Europe|
|The Complete Collection of The Sims||March 24, 2005||The Sims Triple Deluxe, The Sims Hot Date, The Sims: Unleashed, The Sims: Superstar and The Sims: Makin' Magic (limited edition boxset).||Europe|
|The Sims Complete Collection||November 1, 2005||Core game, all seven expansion packs, Deluxe Edition exclusive content, Double Deluxe bonus content, and The Sims Creator on four CDs.||North America, Europe, Israel|
|The Sims Full House||2005||Core game, all seven expansion packs, and The Sims 2 preview disc.||Australia, New Zealand|
Reception and legacy
The Sims received positive reviews. Will Wright, the game's designer, said the game has been a success in many ways—attracting casual gamers and female gamers (the latter making up almost 60% of players).
Jeff Lundrigan reviewed the PC version of the game for Next Generation, rating it four stars out of five, and stated that "Do not miss. Run do not walk. And set aside lots of time."[clarification needed]
The Sims has won numerous awards, including GameSpot's "Game of the Year Award" for 2000. During the 3rd Annual AIAS Interactive Achievement Awards (now known as the D.I.C.E. Awards), The Sims won "Game of the Year", "Outstanding Achievement in Game Design" and "Outstanding Achievement in Gameplay Engineering" (along with nominations for "Computer Family Title of the Year" and "Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction"). Game Informer ranked it the 80th best game ever made in its 100th issue in 2001. In August 2016, The Sims placed 31st on Time's The 50 Best Video Games of All Time list. In 2019, it was ranked 17th on The Guardian newspaper's The 50 Best Video Games of the 21st Century list.
The Sims was released on February 4, 2000 and became a best-seller shortly after launch. In the United States, it was the best-selling computer game of 2000, with domestic sales of 1.77 million units and revenues of $72.9 million. It remained the country's #1 computer title in 2001, when it sold an additional 1.48 million units and earned another $60.4 million in revenue. In 2002, The Sims became the top-selling PC game in history at the time, displacing the game Myst by selling more than 6.3 million copies worldwide.
The console versions of The Sims were each followed by a sequel, The Sims Bustin' Out, and a spin-off game, The Urbz: Sims in the City. These versions incorporate some features of later PC expansion packs, and Bustin' Out adds a multiplayer mode supporting two simultaneous players.
- The Xbox version of this game is not compatible with Xbox 360.
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