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Three Moves Ahead Episode 16 — The Sims

June 9th, 2009 by Troy Goodfellow · 8 Comments · Electronic Arts, Podcast, Three Moves Ahead


Bruce shows up late, but we do get a full panel to talk about The Sims 3 and the franchise in general. Tom gets all artsy, Julian makes an odd comparison and Troy is a cheater.

One of the four panelists hates The Sims, by the way. No prize for guessing who.

And be sure to check out Crispy Gamer for Tom’s Sims 3 RTS Challenge. Can you turn his loser into a success?

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Robin Burkinshaw’s sad story of Alice and Kev (originally on the Quarter to Three forum)
Tom’s Sims Diaries at Fidgit


8 Comments so far ↓

  • George (Stuttgart)

    I bet Bruce is the Sims hater ….


  • spelk

    The reason why The Sims comes across more of an odd curiosity to me rather than a strategic time management avatar game, is that its scope isn’t epic enough for me.

    I, like Bruce, enjoy taking epic situations like historical battles, fantasy scenarios, where great deeds of heroic bravery and strategic command are played out in “what if” scenarios. I usually come into games as a way to taste this escapism, in a setting that has ignited my enthusiasm, where I can get more information and more ‘hands on’ experiences.

    The Sims is more a sandbox focussed on the abstraction of everyday minutae, and I think that may be its major mass appeal. People who don’t usually seek these epic escapist dreams, will appreciate the ‘soap opera’ nature of fiddling with the everyday things of their avatars. The game deals with issues they’re probably very comfortable with.

    I don’t detest The Sims in a vitriolic hateful way, I can if I’m that way inclined fiddle around with it, just to see what happens, but ultimately theres nothing epic about what can be done, its all just mildly amusing. Like Virtual Villagers, something to tinker with when you’re not up to the cut and thrust of conflict and strife on an epic scale. In fact VV carry on in real time, and you just pop in and see how they’re getting on, I wonder if that does happen or can happen with The Sims?

    I can see how the emotional content can develop, and I completely understand becoming attached to avatars. I play a lot of RPG’s and my character creations become very well defined and have personalities and traits that are central to their nature. I can see how The Sims could bring this aspect to the table, caring for your own creation, however, I play RPG’s because my characters are involved in an epic tale of some sort (no matter how cliched it may be) and therefore I have a participation goal that doesn’t just involve eating, sleeping, procreating, and doing a job. What we need is The Sims meets Majesty 2, or The Sims meets Civilisation. Similisation?

    I’ve not played The Sims 3, but later on when I have a gaming drought of some sort, I’d be open to dip my toe in the Doll’s House pool – just to see if theres anything more been added to the mix.

  • Jimmy Brown

    I wasn’t really planning to buy the Sims 3 until I saw the story of Alice and Kev on Qt3. I picked it up last night, and played until I suddenly realized it was one o’clock. I love games of epic scope, but something about the Sims engages me.

  • vendolis

    I think one thing you left out of your discussion when you talked about why Sims is so enormously successfull. It has a huge appeal to women. I think even the lager amount of the players are female and it is a doll house fpr adults. It is a sandbox game where you can play through social interaction. An if you are realy p***ed at some one you take a sim, put on right cothes and the right name and then torture him or similar.
    Since it has appeal to alot of age groups, male and female players. It has a ‘realistic’ setting. And it is very easy to play. You can even have some parts on auto-pilot as you said. And you can not realy lose in this game.

    But the main point stays, beeing hugely appealing to women is one central stone for their success.

  • Troy

    Yeah, but saying “It appeals to women” only moves the question back one more step. Why does it appeal to women? Is there something essential about the modern female character that is naturally or socially conditioned to enjoy dollhouse games?

    I wrote an article a couple of years ago about the Sims community and it’s amazing just how diverse it is. People love the game for very different reasons. Are they story tellers? Builders? Systems managers? Designers? The general wide and open play of the Sims proves to be very attractive to a lot of people differentiated by play style as much as race and gender.

    Of course, any game that sells 100 million units is going to have a diverse audience simply as a matter of scale. The question becomes what is it about this game that makes it so appealing to such a large group. That it does not discourage women and children from playing is certainly a big factor. But the rest is some sort of magic.

  • rsm

    No interest in the Sims, unless I get to the point where I can play with my kids. Just no appeal, same boat as Bruce. That being said, I’d probably enjoy it if I sat down and played it. However, with a limited gaming budget it is not worth the money, and EA doesn’t get any if I can avoid it.

    On next week’s topic, if the original ‘Pirate’s’ manual is not discussed I think the topic of revoking gamer cred needs to be raised.

  • vendolis

    I think one big factor that make the game appealing to so many different people is that is does not give you a ‘right’ way to play. There are nearly as many ways to play it as you can think of.
    You can play it as a min-max game. You can play it as a ‘Mother-Father-Child’ game. Or you can just build houses and similar.
    There are only a few games out there who have such freedom in action and goal choosing (and still offer various goals to reach at the same time).

    The huge drawback of the game is, while you are playing you are confronted with the same problem you have in real life: Too few time to do all things you want to.
    One time after getting annoyed from Sims 2 my Gf said that she also could take her calendar and try to optimise her day, it has the same feeling. The escapism is too close to the real life. Though this might also be the reason for the success.

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