Testing the Limits of Reality

One of the questions that makes the rounds frequently at the Sims 4 Forum involves realism.  Players differ in the amount of realism they like in their games. For some, realism is almost a “dirty word”, while others — like me — do all we can to eliminate the “un-realistic” supernatural elements from our sims’ lives.

As a new player back in 2000, I was unconnected to the online world and blissfully unaware of any supernatural elements in The Sims…until the day my grandfather got abducted by aliens.  How did that just happen? That experience sent me to the internet searching for explanations and answers, and I’ve been actively involved in the simming community ever since.

Now, back with the original game, by the way, I did know that there were ghosts, but they sort of floated around the edges of my consciousness. I didn’t want ghosts in my game so I mostly ignored them. I found ways to avoid them and never gave them much thought.

As new supernatural aspects have been added to each game, I’ve bought the expansion packs, plucked out the more realistic elements to use and have devised “worst case” scenarios to get me through any unwanted encounters with fantastic creatures. With vampires in Sims 2, for instance, I told myself that if one of my sims got bitten, I’d write it into the storyline as a “strange, mysterious disease”. I learned, though, that I could keep my sims away from vampires — they were easily recognizable — and I no longer had to worry about them contracting some exotic illness.

Realistic players like me are often scoffed at by the supernatural fans.

For heaven’s sake! The game’s got ghosts, aliens, werewolves, vampires, witches, and plant sims, and you want to play with normal people?

I heard that a lot back in the days of Sims 2. I was missing out on so much fun by playing a dull, boring game. Realism sucked in the minds of a lot of players. Supernatural is where it’s at for them.

Another comment I’ve heard often through the years is this:

What do you mean, realism? There’s nothing realistic about The Sims. Mops appear and disappear, babies suddenly turn into children, and a black-garbed figure with a scythe comes strolling through the neighborhood. What’s realistic about that?

Excellent point. The game does have a lot of highly-unrealistic happenings. I counter this argument with simple logic. I’m not creating reality when I play; I’m only creating an illusion of reality. It works for me.

For those of us on the realism side of the fence, there are questions about how much reality the game should include. Some players find reality a bit boring, in fact. Years ago when “doing laundry” was first discussed as a possible addition, the idea brought out a lot of “real life” frustrations.

"Let's Do Laundry" by Mightyfaithgirl
“Let’s Do Laundry” for Sims 3 by Mightyfaithgirl is available at TSR. Click the picture to visit the site.


I hate doing laundry. I play my game for fun and doing laundry isn’t fun.

For many, of course, playing The Sims — in any of its multiple versions — is an escape from reality. Even without fantastical creatures — aliens, vampires, and the like — some players still prefer their virtual realities to be somewhat limited. No laundry. No disabilities. No routine visits to eye doctors, dentists, or pediatricians.

We get enough of those things in real life. We don’t need them in our games.

That’s a popular opinion, and I definitely agree that reality does have its limits when it comes to gaming. Each of us has to decide where we want to draw the lines. For me, it means excluding the purely fantastic — aliens and any other supernatural creatures — and ignoring unrealistic elements in my game play. I don’t make aliens, nor do I take actions that might lead to abductions.

Even so, I do still have a few “out-of-this-world” game elements. Two households have rocket ships sitting in their back yards. One also has a cow plant. I simply pretend and use my imagination to make these things fit into my version of reality. The rocket ships, I pretend, are not really in the backyard. They’re at NSSA — The National Simerian Space Agency — where those sims work. The cow plant? It’s a mutation that occurred when NSSA conducted agricultural experiments in space. As for all those weird events that “happen” when my astronauts go into space…well, I just ignore those and hope everyone returns home safely.

On the other hand, I have added a lot of realism that EA can’t include in the game. I have “teen sluts” who occasionally get pregnant. I have sexual predators. I have prostitutes, fortune tellers, and serial killers. I don’t use mods to create these scenarios; I use my imagination. It works.

The Sims is a unique gaming experience, and each of us can choose how we play. That includes choosing the degree of realism we want in our game.

How much REALISM is in YOUR game?




9 thoughts on “Testing the Limits of Reality

  1. Realism is a tricky subject for me. I love realistic settings, and adding tons of darkness and grit…and then involving aliens or the supernatural. 😉 But I agree. It’s become a way for a lot of simmers to lash out against any idea that would make them uncomfortable. The world that sims live in is weird, but it’s a life simulator before anything else.


    1. I’m often awed by the creative way other players incorporate the supernatural elements into their game. I have a good imagination, but it doesn’t work along “sci-fi” lines so I’m not able to fully develop storylines with aliens or other creatures. I toyed around with aliens and vampires a tiny bit in Sims 2, but I was never satisfied with the ways I devised to incorporate them into my game, so I always went back and deleted them.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Chiming in…I read and write science fiction and fantasy naturally. So I’m much more comfortable in that world. But this topic is just as valid if your are incorporating “unrealistic” elements. You have to make it real, even if there are vampires. Things must make sense and be “real” for the world you are writing.

    Ps really liking these writing posts.


    1. Thanks for your comments. You’ve made an excellent point. Any world we create must have its own reality — even if it’s different from our own. I’m glad you shared that insight.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh thanks!

        I’ve been enjoying reading your posts, I love the combination of insight into Jonathan’s life and into writing sims as well. I want to go back and read them all now!


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