EA / Maxis
2000 – present
Life simulation, social simulation
The Sims 4 (2014) is the fourth core game release from The Sims franchise. The base game allows users to create their own personalized characters and live out life cycles through a range of experiences, careers, skills, relationships, educational pathways and social events. The game relies on player customization for the Sim’s (/player’s) appearance, personalities, likes and dislikes, as well as construction of the surrounding environment including homes and businesses. Players control every in-game hour of their Sim’s life, from dictating when they eat, go to the toilet, or sleep, keeping their needs satisfied – to their career decisions, education, finances, and the architectural makeup of their home.
The Sims’ lives can be played out in a range of communities, home to local residents, that players are free to interact and form relationships with. After creating a family using the Create-A-Sim function, families are supplied with 20,000 simoleons (in-game currency) with an additional 2000 simoleons per family member. This pot of money can be used to purchase an existing house, or an empty lot where players are free to build their own home, within the given budget (however, the developers do not discourage the use of cheat codes!). Sims can get jobs and earn money to increase their budgets.
What we think you can learn from The Sims
The Sims franchise is a life simulator, allowing players to emulate contemporary adulthood and adult responsibilities, mostly revolving around the management of capital (time, money) and personalisation, customisation, and expression (usually via consumption). As such, the game offers opportunities to practice and develop practical skills, abilities, and attributes, such as multitasking, problem solving, goal setting, budget keeping and organization.
Through playing out the life courses of the unique created characters as well as interacting with the different personalities of the pre-existing neighbours, The Sims allows players to develop an understanding of the social world. Players are exposed to diversity, individual differences, and a range of relationships which influence the ways Sims will react to you and other characters.
The Sims offers an opportunity for personal development through the development of social skills and morals with the opportunity to behave positively or negatively towards others. Taking care of your Sims’ needs also teaches players about the importance of self-care and ensuring you and those you’re responsible for are taken care of.
National Curriculum links
The Sims features money, goods and services. Players must learn to budget their funds around the income from their jobs and any outgoing expenses such as bills and food, as well as luxuries and home improvements.
The game develops reading comprehension through in-game features to understand developments in relationships and life stages. Pop-ups frequently occur within the game, in the form of text messages or emails from other Sims in the neighborhood, as well as notifications about developments in the Sims’ lives. Some messages from Sims allow the player to choose a response which will result in further in-game developments. Each neighborhood also features the ‘Neighborhood stories’ function.
The developers of The Sims actively encourage custom content, modifications, and cheats. The opportunity to develop your own custom content allows students to experiment with coding and software development
The game centers around customizability. This offers players the chance to practice design, including interior and architectural.
• Using only the money allocated at the beginning to your family, budget your funds to build a house including all the necessities for a happy, healthy sim.
• Develop your sims’ careers and skills in order to bring in an income to sustain your family. Do not use any cheats or mods – simply play through the sims lives to obtain what is needed.
• Make friends with neighbors from the town and develop new relationships with others.
• Reflect on the experience of budgeting. Did you stick to it? How strict did you make this budget and what was your process of prioritizing what was important, and what was not?
• Think about how you earned money in the games. Identify the goals you set when earning money: did you focus on career improvement, or were your goals more money orientated? How did you go about achieving these goals? Can you identify any sacrifices you or your sim had to make? How did you plan and allocate your time in-game?
• What can you deduce from these interactions about other’s likes and dislikes>
• What can you learn about interacting with others?
• What’s the relationship between time and money, for your Sims?
• What’s missing from the Sims (as in, what else should you need to juggle in life?)?
Art & Design:
Build the perfect house. Then:
• Evaluate your work: what design features make this the ideal living space for a family?
• What architectural period does it mirror most closely?
• How does designing digitally impact your creative freedom?
• Turn your SIMS’ lives into a short story, and be led by the unfolding of the game.
• Put yourself in your SIM’s shoes, can you write from their perspective?