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Why We Should Never Have Been Allowed To Play Sims As A Kid

When The Sims arrived in 2000, gamers didn't really know how much it would change the Sim franchise. Unlike SimCity, or even obscure games like Sim Ant, The Sims focused specifically on people. Players could build houses, create families, and watch the drama unfold as Sims fought, fell in love, and had kids of their own. In other words, The Sims was a new sort of virtual dollhouse for players to immerse themselves in.

Or maybe it wasn't that simple. Gita Jackson at Kotaku describes The Sims as more of a life study, or a tool players used for their own storytelling. It's a simulation and a fantasy all at once, but that's what players love about it. 

For a certain generation of players, The Sims appeared at a time when their young brains were still forming as children. Now, millennials have a close bond to The Sims, partially because it allows for a sort of escapism that isn't often afforded them in real life. Regardless of why they play The Sims, those who grew up with the series may have picked up some unintentional messages along the way. 

Maybe these lessons taught players how to navigate the world or what to expect from humanity. Or maybe The Sims just taught them that murder by pool ladder can be fun.

Killing Sims for fun and profit

Every Sims player eventually loses a Sim for one reason or another, but some players actually enjoy mercilessly torturing their families. Giving kids that kind of power, even virtually, tends not to go well. While real life children aren't as evil as, say, the kids in horror films, they're also not complete angels.

One method of death might be more famous than any other: death by pool ladder. Ever since the first Sims game, players could let their Sims go for a nice swim, then remove the ladder from the pool. With no concrete way to get in or out of the pool, the helpless Sim would eventually drown from exhaustion. Needless to say, it was pretty brutal to watch, yet also so funny that the scenario has been memed on TikTok.

The Sims 4 made it more difficult to drown a Sim, but some have managed to find a way to make it work, albeit in a much more complicated way. Now players must wall in the swimming Sims, leaving no room for the smarter AI to direct the Sims out of the pool without the use of a ladder.

The Sims gave kids a secret language

Simlish, the language that all Sims speak, may not be a real language, but kids who grew up playing The Sims have begun using it all the same. An entire genre of TikTok videos recently appeared where users use Simlish to parody songs, make memes, and express emotion.

It's impossible to be fluent in Simlish, but the fictional language created a generation of would-be linguists. Some fans have even established an unofficial Simlish dictionary to teach others the difference between "sul sul" and "badeesh."

Claire Curtain, the audio director for the first two Sims games, said that the Sims team wanted to create one language that sounded familiar, but which had no specific meaning. After trying to scramble various real-world languages, Curtain and her team decided on Simlish, a made up language that was largely improvised. Actors repeatedly recorded lines, getting a different reaction or tone for each recording. When all those takes were combined, it provided a varied experience for players. The game always felt fresh and Simlish felt like a real language.

Even real-life celebrities have gotten in on the Simlish fun, rerecording pop songs in the made up language to be included in the games.

The Sims introduced kids to the world of mods

Video games in general often feature sexy characters who defy the limits of reality with their hotness. The Sims goes farther than that, but not through the fault of Maxis or EA Games. No, this time it's the fans who brought the X-rated content.

Kids who played The Sims and grew bored of the same old hair and clothing options could always turn to online forums to download mods for their growing families. Of course, with all of the cosmetic mods available, that meant there were also some less savory changes kids could make to the game.

Any unsuspecting kid could find and download any number of NSFW Sims mods, but perhaps the most popular is Wicked Whims, which adds all sorts of spicy content to the game. Of course, not all Sims mods are bad, and even Wicked Whims can be tamed. YouTube Sims fan Morbid Gamer provided a tutorial on how to make the lewd mod family-friendly, allowing players to both have the impressive cosmetics Wicked Whims adds without the extra woohoo options. Morbid Gamer argued that some of the traits the mod adds makes The Sims feel more detailed and real.

The Sims taught kids to embrace expensive DLC

At this point, almost every major game release promises DLC in the future, but The Sims has tested the limits of just how many expansion packs players will buy. Starting with the first Sims installment, players could buy content packs that added new items, cosmetic options, and actions to their games. While these additions might have brought more niche content to The Sims, they often come at a steep price, especially when fans purchase multiple content packs.

The Sims featured a few different tiers of content packs, from the innocuous "stuff packs" all the way up to full-blown expansions that added new locations or careers to the base Sims game. One fan on Reddit spoke out about the normalization of content packs, specifically in reference to the Eco Lifestyle pack for The Sims 4. They wrote, "We normalized paying $40 on an [expansion pack] that hardly changes the game." The fan went on to say that Sims players had been "brainwashed" to believe each content pack would add something groundbreaking to the game. 

Another fan agreed, but said that EA and Maxis have a "genre monopoly." No other game quite like The Sims exists, at least on the same scale. For fans of the series, it looks like DLC is a way of life now.

The Sims provided some misconceptions about romance

Love is hard in real life. Not only is love confusing, but it does weird things to your body and mind. In The Sims, romance is easy, even though it serves as a microcosm of what relationships look like in real life. Maybe some love lessons learned in The Sims don't translate so well IRL.

Most iconically, The Sims introduced "woohooing" to the world, at least in name. Starting in The Sims 2, couples could jump into bed together and woohoo the night away. While there's nothing inherently wrong about sex or sexuality, young players of The Sims might have found woohooing to be too much information too soon.

The truth is that woohooing is actually pretty upsetting. Kotaku's Gita Jackson did a deep dive into woohooing to prove how strange it looks, and the results were shocking. Dragged out into the open by Jackson's curious cursor, Sim bodies were found to be twisted and mangled under the sheets of the bed.

Even when writers aren't trying to unearth mysteries that are best left secret, weird things are happening in The Sims. That might be a bit much for younger players, especially if they've stumbled onto the mods mentioned earlier. 

The Sims may have introduced some people to cheats

EA's official site for The Sims explains that it wants players to be able to cheat. The developers made cheating simple, effective, and expansive. Cheating is part of The Sims history, and it's not going anywhere anytime soon. While many sims fans celebrate the iconic rosebud cheat, which brought sims money, it's possible The Sims unearthed bad tendencies in kids around the globe.

Cheating in games doesn't necessarily raise the likelihood of cheating in real life, but it does help unearth personality traits that might already exist, tempting players to cheat. A 2015 study showed that games don't inherently encourage players to cheat, and in fact provide a safe space to experiment with dishonesty.

A separate study found that players who were influenced by friends to cheat were more likely to do so. In other words, cheating spread socially amongst those observed. Even though The Sims itself didn't encourage immorality, it's possible that online Sims communities have encouraged cheating behavior.

The Sims exposed children to some pretty scary stuff

The Sims 3 introduced supernatural elements to the Sims universe by adding witches, werewolves, vampires, and other scary creatures via content packs. It also added a new spooky town, Moonlit Falls, which was filled with supernatural beings of all sorts.

A 2014 study found that children who watched horror films experienced a lasting impact on child psychology, although the positivity or negativity of those effects were debated. While The Sims isn't as scary as, say, some of the latest and greatest horror films, it does open up the possibility for children to become interested in scary things and potentially seek out horror. 

Fans of The Sims have chimed in on frightening moments in their own games, including encounters with clowns, glitches that made the world look strange, and, perhaps the most horrifying of all, unexpected births. While supernatural elements of The Sims haven't always brought the terror, the game might still enough strange and disturbing occurrences to stick with any kid long into adulthood.

The Sims gets in hot water with fans

Some fans felt outrage after EA announced a new content pack titled Snowy Escape, which included a new neighborhood as well as a new activity, skiing. However, South Korean fans noticed that the trailer also featured Sims bowing to shrines, which resembled Shinto shrines, as well as wearing kimonos that looked like the "rising sun" flag. Given South Korea and Japan's history, players felt upset.

Fans debated over Snowy Escape, mostly disagreeing on the cultural sensitivity or insensitivity of the shrines. One player said that since Snowy Escape was based on Japan, Korean fans shouldn't be upset at the presence of shrines. Others noted that the historical significance of Japanese shrines in Korea should matter.

Ultimately, EA decided to make changes to the content pack, and recoded the pack to not include bowing in front of shrines or potentially offensive clothing patterns. Still, the controversy made some fans question whether EA and Maxis really care about fans' feelings and cultural sensitivity, which could have a lasting impact on the franchise as a whole.

The Sims took a while to receive some diversity

Fans urged EA to provide a new skin tone update for years, as the base game's options were found to be lacking. After a lengthy wait, EA finally listened to fan outrage and announced a free update that would add skin tones, more makeup options, and varied hairstyles.

Even though EA promised the update was coming, some fans said it was too little too late. One player called the delay "shameful," and many Sims gamers quickly pointed out problems with the content pack once it arrived.

Sims YouTuber Deligracy pointed out that genetics seemed off in the new update. She found it odd that all of the babies in her playthrough were being born with inexplicably white skin tones. However, she overall praised the update for its diverse skin tones and implementation of slider bars, so players can customize their Sims more than ever. 

The Sims' official Twitter account announced that the developers are committed to including more diverse options in the future, so hopefully the game will continue to receive improvements regarding diversity, allowing The Sims to cotinue to be a wonderful title for all ages (more or less).