When I think of childhood games, the Sims series is one of the first to come to mind. I’ve been a fan of the series since I was at least five years old (though I feel like I’ve been playing it for longer). I enjoyed keeping families alive as best I could and sharing the stories I had from the game with my own family. It almost seems ridiculous that I’ve only recently started thinking of using Sims as a writing tool.
It wasn’t until I was about seventeen or eighteen years old that I realized that I could recreate my story characters in Sims. At first, it was more about me having some fun rather than trying to use a game as a writing tool. However, as I recreated the characters and watched them live their lives in a game, I found that I was taking some aspects that happened in Sims and incorporating it into the official story.
First of all, Sims is great for creating new characters. The people in Sims (does anybody ever refer to them as people?) is one of the main features of the game. Watching how one sim interacts with another; watching them meet, fight, get along, get married; is basically my favorite thing to do in Sims. And, of course, when new sims come in, the possibility for new characters comes in as well.
I had a character named Andrew. Originally, he was an only child and it was just him and his mom. I recreated them in Sims 2, however, and quickly found that the sim-version Andrew’s mother was not willing to stay single. She got married and had another child: a baby girl named Teddy. As I watched sim-Teddy grow up, I became really attached to her and added her to the official story. Not only did she become a major character, but she also gave my then-endless story an ending.
When recreating your characters in Sims, they’re probably not going to be exactly like your official characters. Sometimes it can lead to inaccuracy. Sometimes it can lead to new opportunities.
When I first started recreating my characters in Sims, I wanted them to act exactly as my official characters would, no exceptions! That got stressful to keep up with, though, so it didn’t take me long to relax my rules and say, “Just because it happens in Sims doesn’t mean it has to happen in the actual book.” I’m glad I gave them some room to breathe because it actually led to some details and development that I gave to the official characters.
I had three characters: Clemm, Poe, and Allan. Clemm and Poe were a married couple and Allan was Poe’s older brother that lived with them. I recreated this situation in Sims 2. While I was playing, Poe eventually died (I forget how; I think a ghost spooked him to death). It literally did not even take a DAY before Allan started flirting with the now tragically single Clemm. Since Clemm was technically single and had a good friendly relationship with Allan, she was all into it. There’s not much of a mourning period in Sims 2. This isn’t the point. The point is, I took this as a sign that official Allan is probably in love (or at least has a crush on) his brother’s wife. Ah, drama.
With new characters meeting the old characters, there will, no doubt, be new events. I mean, come on. It would be boring to just watch two sims standing next to each other. It’s much more fun to watch them go out and do things! And they can do some crazy things in this game. Maybe your two sims will go on a date and get attacked by an old, prudish lady. It’s possible that they’ll get abducted by aliens (and if they’re male, come back with a surprise). Maybe they’ll buy a time machine at the convenience store, go to the past, and adopt a cave-child. Or maybe they’ll read books. There are lots to do in Sims. Which is good, because that can be used for future events or backstories for characters.
I had a character named Skylar who I recreated in Sims 2. When he went to college, he started dating this one girl whose name I can’t remember. She had red hair, so let’s call her “Rose”. They really hit it off and eventually got engaged, which was great! Until the cow mascot came along and started flirting with Rose. To those who haven’t played Sims 2, let it be known that cow mascots are despised by the other sims. Llama mascots are where it’s at. Well, usually, but I guess Rose didn’t get the memo. She started flirting back, officially cheating on Sky (with the cow, no less!).
Long story short, he caught her, he gave her a second chance, she cheated again, he caught her again, he wasn’t willing to give her a third chance and broke off the engagement. As heartbreaking as the whole scenario was, it was equally entertaining. I added it to Sky’s official backstory (with some edits to make it more high school friendly, since Sky is only seventeen in the official story).
Which Sims Game is Best for Writing?
That is completely up to you! I personally like to use Sims 2*, as it’s what I played the most, so I know all the ins and outs of it**. Plus, I know a bunch of cheats for it, so I can give my characters more accurate lives (or so I can interfere when things go, uh, deathly wrong). But some might find that Sims 3* or 4* works better for you. Heck, maybe even Sims 1*! Basically, just start with whichever’s your favorite and go from there. If it doesn’t work out for you, try your second favorite, and so on. And if none of them work or if you just don’t play Sims, well, I’ve got other games that can be used as writing tools.
Have you tried using Sims as a writing tool? What was your experience with it? Have you found other ways that it was useful besides what was mentioned above? Was it helpful, or did it just end up being another way to procrastinate? Let me know in the comments!
*I am not at all affiliated with EA in any way. I just wanted to make it easier for people to find the games in case they wanted to try them.
**Please note that, although I said I play Sims 2 more, these screenshots are from Sims 3.