An Accessible Addiction for All
The Sims marks a true milestone in gaming. Will Wright's "God Game" took on a new aspect of life, namely all of it!
If you thought that constructing and maintaining a successful city was hard in the SimCity series then you wait until you try raising a family. Climbing the corporate ladder, buying, building and maintaining a house and the going-ons within are all present and just as dastardly a task as their real life counterparts. Basically, the Sims takes the hectic lives we all live and turns it into a game. A fun game at that!
The Sims is addictive because of our own human nature. We all want to succeed, and while success is invariably described by each of us as individuals, we all have a common understanding of what the concensus is on what "success" is. This is your drive in the Sims. To have all the nice things, friends and love you can get, and getting it, just like in real life, isn't easy.
You are presented with real life issues at every turn, from budgeting your income to pay for bills and repairing a leak or getting sick, to managing friendships and relationships. You will tackle such issues as: keeping the fridge stocked, making sure plants are watered, showering, sleeping, making dinner, eating dinner, maintaining good hygiene, living in comfort, living in a pleasing environment, gaining skills through knowledge and working out, getting to work on time, constantly changing work schedules, dealing with people, and believe me when I say this, so much more.
The draw isn't solely taking care of your Sim though. A lot of fun comes in the form of designing your Sims' living quarters, which is actually my favorite part. You are in complete control and there is a huge array of 10+ expansions for the original game giving you near limitless creative control (should you choose to shell out the cash for the digital decor).
The Sims also offers something for more sinister players as well. Being a "god game" Sims caters to the downfall of Sims as well. If you want to create a neat-freak Sim and put him in a messy environment and watch him go crazy, you can! If you want to trap someone in a room with no way to escape, nothing to do, and no where to pee but the floor and force him to sleep in his/her own urine... well... you might be depraved, but you can! Trap Sims in the pool! Trap Sims in a single cube-space room! Starve them! Deprive them of sleep! Get them fired with bills piling up! Have fun!!!
So is this what makes The Sims a true milestone in gaming? No, but these points work towards it. What makes The Sims a milestone is its accessibility.
The Sims' accessibility comes in many forms. First off it is tackling a subject we all inherently familiar with: Life. Secondly the game is regional friendly (although many of the game's decor design style suggests American lifestyle) by the form of disconnecting the Sims from us verbally; that is, they speak Simlish. This means the only ways we can read the Sims is through their actions, which we can identify with, or through the many bars and graphs the game offers, which reminds us it is only a game and is for fun. The Sims also has a very easy to use and understand interface, a small learning curve, and the aesthetics of a cartoony version of the world we live in. All of these aspects culminate into one cohesive experience that allows ANYONE to play the game and enjoy it for what it is.
This accessibility is what allowed The Sims to become the best selling game of all time and spawn countless add-ons and sequels. This accessibility is what made my girlfriend become completely enraptured in The Sims franchise the same way I might with say, Fallout 3 or Team Fortress 2; she could just sit down and start playing the Sims and understand the basics and have fun.
In short, The Sims offers gameplay on a topic we're all too familiar with and does it in a very easy to understand, yet comprehensive way. If you haven't played The Sims then you're missing out on life.