For all of the hours that I spent teaching Sims to read and making them “woo hoo” with anyone that walked by, I recognize that the game had a few flaws, most notably, that it was not entirely accurate. The Sims furnished unrealistic expectations about job-hunting, dating, and money among other things and had my parents not taught me otherwise, I probably would’ve died in a fire years ago after attempting to extinguish it by yelling and pointing at it. But for all of its shortcomings, the game did offer some little pieces of wisdom that are valuable in the real world. For example:
1. Kids grow up so fast.
In the original Sims, children were children and adults were adults and that was that. No one thought to develop the “aging” concept until the second edition and even then, kids were kids for a matter of weeks before miraculously turning into adults. Though it seemed ridiculous at the time (“No, Billy, you can not flirt with the next door neighbor, you were five years old like, yesterday!”), the older I get in the real world, the more I start to believe the Sims creators knew exactly what they were doing. These days, it seems like toddlers turn into teenagers before you can say “Is that underarm hair??” It’s an alarming reminder that time really does fly, especially if you spend most of it cleaning diapers and pulling Monopoly pieces out of your child’s nostril.
2. Nothing is worth doing if you’re low on energy.
No matter how hard I tried to keep my Sims happy, I’d always inevitably end up screaming at the computer screen and using a cheat code to get them to cooperate. Despite my best efforts to keep their places tidy, their bladders empty, and their bellies full, trying to maintain their need for sleep was, excuse the pun, exhausting. Are you really that tired after walking to the mailbox? My middle school self found it hard to believe but my college self is starting to find it more and more true. Just looking at an elliptical makes me tired these days, so I can’t blame my characters too much for not wanting to play in the pool after reading for two minutes.
3. You’ll leave your trash anywhere if there isn’t a garbage bin nearby.
“No waste barrel in the bathroom? I’ll just put this half-eaten baloney sandwich in the sink, along with this 3 week old newspaper and the fish dinner that I forgot to eat while I was showering last month.” This is how Sims think. It also happens to be how I think and how most 21-year-olds with crippling laziness think. Why trek all the way into the hall to find a trash can when you can just create a leaning tower of rubbish on your desk and take everything out at once?
4. Learning a new skill takes time.
How is it that a Sim can get a full night’s sleep in 2 minutes but it takes him all day to learn how to make pasta? The logic never seemed quite there for me. That is, until I entered the real world and thought I could cook tofu on my own, with no prior cooking experience. Unless you’re Beyonce, you don’t wake up knowing how to be good at something; you have to work at it and practice any chance you get, otherwise you’ll end up setting something on fire or hurting yourself or jumping into a pool without knowing how to swim.
5. No phone means no social life.
While apps like Facebook and Snapchat can be useful for staying connected to friends, they can also mess with your emotions, especially when you see pictures of your buddies hanging out at Denny’s when they clearly said they were going out dancing. The Sims predicted this Fear of Missing Out dilemma early on. If your Sim didn’t have a phone in the house, not only could they not order pizza or prank call their enemies, but they could never reconnect with friends or throw parties. Talk about social suicide. If you don’t have a Facebook or a phone in 2015, you can’t participate in group messages or get event notifications and people will forget about you like you’re some high school inside joke.
6. If you want to stay friends with someone, you have to put in some effort.
You remember the old adage, “Friendships are like plants. If you don’t care for them, they will wither and die.” How could you not, considering that the notification popped up every time you went two seconds without talking to someone. This sadistic reminder to “stay in touch” seemed patronizing at first but after losing touch with a bunch of high school friends over the years, I’m starting to wonder if getting 50 notifications per day is the only way to maintain those connections.
7. Life doesn’t make sense.
Life isn’t constant. You’re not going to want the same things in five years. You won’t have all of the same friends that you do now. You’ll have a whole new set of memories to enjoy and share with others. Whether all of that is the result of life’s arbitrary rules or whether there is some higher power up there canceling our actions halfway through a task because they got bored, I don’t know. But it’s true all the same.