I’ve played The Sims since TS1 came out in 2003. I mostly play TS2, but I’ve dabbled in TS3, and may try TS4, just to see if it’s any good. In my 12 years of playing this addicting game, I’ve learned a few things about real life:
1. It’s way more expensive to rent than to buy.
In The Sims 2: Apartment Life, apartments were introduced to The Sims, and while they seemed cool at first, it’s very soon apparent that renting costs a friggin’ fortune. For example, I have an apartment building that rents one bedroom, one bath apartments with garages and sparse furnishings for $2,382 – $3,270 a week. A week! You can get a small house in the game for less than $20,000 (the amount your sims start off with). That means that in less than ten weeks, your sims will have spent the equivalent of a small home they could have bought if they had just spent the cash up front.
I went through the same thing when I got my first apartment in the Navy, it was a two bedroom, 2.5 bath townhouse that we rented for about $1,800 a month. We lived there for three years, and spent nearly $65,000 in rent! Conversely, when my husband and I bought our first house, we put $80,000 down, and we still have that $80,000, because we’ll get it back (and then some) when we sell.
2. Doing well in school tends to lead to an easier life.
In The Sims 2: University, sims can go to college for various degrees, and build skills that come in handy when they graduate and get jobs. Additionally, young adult sims in college can get up to $1,200 per semester if they get straight As. I’ve found this one to be true in life, as well. Doing well in school means that a) you actually know the subject of your major, and b) grants, scholarships, and even financial aid are more readily available. I’m on the GI Bill, I have to get good grades, or they won’t pay me! Maybe it’s just my ego talking, but it was pretty sweet to receive an Academic Achievement Award when I graduated with my Bachelor’s for having a perfect 4.0. It’s also way easier to justify not working when I’m totally earning my right to be a full-time student by kicking butt in school.
After college, sims have all these skills they’ve built that allow them the opportunity to take higher paying jobs, because they have the base skills needed to work them. Climbing the career ladder is a lot faster when you start out ahead of the game! I haven’t gone back to work yet (still working on my MBA), but I’m hoping that this is also true in real life and that I won’t end up answering phones or flipping burgers with my knowledge of business, human resources management, and project/program management.
3. Kids grow up fast.
In The Sims 2, sims get pregnant, and 75 hours later, a baby appears. After three days, the baby will grow into a toddler, who, after four days, grows into a child. Eight days later, they become a teenager, and teens have 15 days to decide whether or not they want to go to college as a young adult, and spend 24 days doing that, or waiting until the 15 days are up and growing into an adult. For 29 days, adult sims do adult sim things (like working in their jobs and making sim babies), until they retire as an elder. Elders who had crappy lives can live as little as nine days, but if they had a very happy, fulfilling life, they can live up to 31 days!
This one I know is totally true. I don’t have kids yet, but I’m going to be 30 this year, so a ton of my friends do. Even just watching them grow up on Facebook is insane! A friend of mine in Virginia has a three-year-old boy, and I swear, he was an infant like a week ago! Kids I used to babysit are now graduating high school and college, and some of them even have kids! A friend of mine who’s a Chief in the Navy has grandkids! She’s not even old! Granted, she has these adorable braces and long hair that make her look 12, but still!
On the other side of it, planning for retirement is freaking impossible. Most people don’t die in their 40s and 50s anymore, so I kind of understand why organizations are taking away 20-year pensions. When my husband retires at 38, he’s got at least 30 or 40 years before he kicks it. That being said, he’s obviously going to go back to work, but how long are we going to work? If we work until we’re 60, and die at 80, we have to save for 20 years of living! What if we die at 90? What if we live to be 100?? How the hell is anyone supposed to plan for that?? Right now, we each have a TSP, and he has a pension coming. It’s not enough. We need Roth IRAs and 401Ks and 403Bs and all this other crap that I don’t even really understand what it is, but I’ll be damned if we’re old as hell and can’t take care of ourselves! I don’t let my elder sims hang around their kids’ houses when they’re old, those cranky bastards go to a retirement home! (No, really, it’s brilliant. I made a cheap apartment complex for them that is a lot like a retirement home, so I don’t have to deal with their shit…)
4. If you come from a family with money, you’re set.
I’m not much of a liberal, I agree with the Affordable Care Act, and I support gay marriage and I’m not racist, but sometimes I think that people totally overplay the “you came from a well-to-do family, your life must be easy” card. They don’t. It’s totally true. I have some sim families that are on their fourth or fifth generation and holy crap are their lives easy. They have all this cash lying around, all this nice stuff they didn’t have to save for weeks to buy, and I have a custom checkbook object I can use to have my sims send money to people, like their kids when they go to college, so they don’t have to live in a crappy dorm, or their kids again when they’ve graduated and need more cash to buy and furnish a house, or their kids again when they retire to the home and don’t need hundreds of thousands of simoleans to sit there and play chess. Because of that, my “legacy” sims don’t have to get jobs right away, can afford nice beds that recharge that energy bar quick, and kitchen appliances that make healthy food so they aren’t hungry right after eating. They can take vacations when life gets too boring, and have more time to spend on their hobbies, for no other reason other than they like to tinker, or paint, or whatever.
Maybe it doesn’t translate directly, but it sure as hell makes sense to me that money begets money, and if you come from a family that’s got it, you have a way better chance of making it yourself.
5. Some relationships are not meant to be.
In The Sims 2, you can make sims who are just perfect for each other. At least you think they are until you try to rustle up some romanticism and one of them goes “eww, no” in simlish with a big thought bubble that says “I ain’t into that.”
There is nothing more obnoxious than creating sims who just aren’t right for each other, or when you want two kids who have been BFFS4LYFE to take their relationship down make out road, and find that one or both of them won’t have it.
The absolute worst though, is when one sim is head-over-heels in love with another sim, and that sim feels no love. I know it’s just a video game, but that makes me so sad. I console my sims. I tell them I’ve been there (I have) and that it will get better (it will), even if I have to call that annoying matchmaker to find them the perfect partner.
Sometimes, you just have to let it go. If you try to hold on too tight to someone, you end up scaring the crap out of them, and becoming someone you hate – whoever the hell .38 Special was singing about in that song.
What lessons have video games taught you? Share your wisdom in the comments!