Throwback Thursday: The Sims – The Original People Simulator
On February 4, 2000, The Sims was released for PC. The game brought a unique focus for the simulation genre, allowing players to construct and simulate quirky virtual life in the suburbs. Winning over gamers for its simple and creative premise, The Sims gained enormous success since it debuted and laid the foundation for a globally enduring franchise.
Throughout the 1990s, Maxis co-founder Will Wright had a growing reputation of designing open-ended simulation games, beginning with one of the studio’s biggest hits, SimCity. The success of the building management game led to numerous follow-ups that brought the “sim” experience to areas outside of the city. Following the loss of his home in a fire, Wright began conceptualizing an idea that could capture the rebuilding of his life into a game. It was this personal idea of a “virtual doll house” that would eventually become The Sims.
Originally codenamed “Project X”, Wright’s pitch initially wasn’t given the best reception, making development a slow affair for the first few years. The game was first envisioned as a home construction simulator, with sims eventually moving in and evaluating players’ custom house. Over time, Wright and his team became increasingly fascinated by the sims’ interactions and felt that they could play a much more engaging role in the forefront. It wouldn’t be until Electronic Arts’ acquisition of Maxis in 1997, that The Sims would finally be greenlit.
Players are tasked with essentially playing god to a the sims, providing them with fulfilling tasks, completing chores, and keeping a regular job. Prioritizing these basic needs is where the strategy comes in, with the game’s AI periodically requiring to eat, keep clean hygiene, and interact with one another. Just like in real life, there are consequences for dropping one thing and pursuing another, making it difficult to effectively keep all needs fulfilled.
While The Sims has no apparent goal or end, that doesn’t mean significant drawbacks can’t happen to dampen player progress. Sims are very much able to die in the game, either by neglecting basic needs or by freak accidents involving fires, electrocution, or drowning. Refusing to fulfill social requirements could also lead to Sims permanently leaving the game. Angry characters can outright leave town in frustration and children can be taken away by a social worker if not properly taken care of.
After the game’s success, Maxis contributed to The Sims with several additional expansion packs which introduced pets, more neighborhoods, character skins, and other new items to the base game. Continued popularity led to quite a few sequels and spin-offs, with each building on the formula to include bigger, more diverse gameplay, an online component and even story-based elements.
What’s your opinion of The Sims? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to follow Don’t Feed the Gamers on Twitter to be informed of the latest gaming and entertainment news 24 hours a day! Also, be on the lookout for the next Throwback Thursday where we’ll highlight yet another title from gaming past. For entries from previous weeks, check out these next few links below:
Eric Hall2712 Posts
Phone-browsing Wikipedia in one hand and clutching his trusty controller in the other, the legendary Eric Hall spreads his wealth of knowledge as a writer for Don't Feed the Gamers. Be sure to catch his biweekly "Throwback Thursday" segment for a nostalgic look at trivia from the past.