I've never tried to work out how many hours of my life have been spent playing The Sims, but I'm sure it would be a shockingly big number! I still remember the very first time I ever played it - at a friend's house during a holiday to Australia, and we were so engrossed in drowning our Sim people in the swimming pool that we turned down a visit to the zoo (although I had actually already been that week).
Once back from Aus, I got my hands on a copy of The Sims: Deluxe Edition and played it regularly for years and years. I'm a committed fan of the original Sims and just cannot get my head around Sims 2, let alone any further versions! I liked the simplicity and limits of the original game, and find the more recent versions overwhelming.
I'm sure most of you will have played The Sims at some point - I expect we all have many shared memories of 'rosebud;;;;;', setting fire to our least favourite sim, and leaving a bathing sim suspended in mid-air all pixelated. Most 'Sims Memories' lists I've read seem to suggest that everyone made themselves, their friends and their dream partner, but I liked being original with my Sim-creations and storylines and spent my time setting up all number of weird and wonderful scenarios - my sister still teases me about them now. So here are my Top Ten Bizzare Sim Creations:
(I'm only sorry that I don't have pictures to go with these! The Sims has long since been unistalled on the family computer... *sad face*)
1. The Big Brother House
Now I haven't watched Big Brother in a very, very, very long time, so this makes me feel rather old. But I remember building a huge house with all the brightest decor and furniture, a swimming pool, hot tub and, of course, a fancy 'Diary Room'. I created fictional contestants (all with actual backstories as well... far too much time on my hands), performed some cheat to set them to maximum autonomy so they would act by themselves, and sat back and watched. Sim Big Brother probably beats the real thing for entertainment every time...
2. The Rubbish Dump
I have absolutely no idea how I ever thought of this. But I did. It was a single concrete wall, and then all kinds of 'rubbish' - discarded ovens, beds, sofas... I had a 'family' of four tramps living there who were all set to minimum cleanliness and they would leave rubbish all over the place so that plenty of flies accumulated. Wasn't I a lovely person? I'm also pretty sure I killed half of them off in a freak fire starting in the, err, abandoned fireplaces section...
3. Ancient Greek Houses (multiple)
Admittedly, I can be a massive geek when I want to be. I studied Classical Civilizations for GCSE and loved learning about life in Ancient Greece. So much so, I created an entire neighbourhood of replica Greek homes. Small ones with minimal furniture, and huge fancy ones complete with gynaekons filled with spinning wheels, the men's andron and even a sacrifice altar. Maybe this is why I still remember so much of my Classics knowledge...
Embarrassing, but too good to leave off this list. One of my friends from school had been watching Emmerdale religiously for years and I just didn't really get it. Until he challenged me to start watching every episode (honestly, waking up early on a Tuesday morning to catch up on Monday night's episode missed while at a Ranger's meeting is a low point of my teenage life...). Clearly I was hooked, and built a neighbourhood based loosely on the soap's families and locations. (FYI, I don't actually watch it anymore...)
5. Interior Design Magazine Feature
You know how I said I could be a bit of a geek? Yeah, well I remember an English project in about year seven or eight where we had to work in groups to produce a newspaper. As a dedicated over-achiever, I set about also creating the free magazine to go with it. Including a double page spread of 'how to make a small room feel bigger' with multiple screen shots of 'before and after photos' from a sims house.
6. Grand Designs
I bet there must be loads of people out there who secretly played Grand Designs on The Sims. As if just building a simple house isn't enough, I took great pleasure in building castle ruins and old barns, and 'converting' them to modern masterpieces.
7. Animal Rescue Centre
It was a good day when I got the Unleashed expansion pack. But not content with just giving my Sim families a puppy or kitten each, I had to go and build a whole rescue centre. Which was actually just one woman, seven dogs/cats and all the hamsters/parrots etc. I could fit into a lot. Oh and blue tiles everywhere. Oh, and I even used the outfit designing software to make her a tunic with a logo and everything.
8. The Tribal Village
The lots might have been small, and family sizes limited to just eight - but this didn't curb my imagination! I remember creating a lot filled with simply furnished huts, a strange little toilet shed and rows and rows of vegetables to tend to. And a 'foreign student' joining for the experience just for good measure.
9. A Hospital
Classic medic (although this would have been years before I actually became a medical student). I don't really remember playing on this one very much, it can't have been one of my better ones, but I know I made a doctor, a nurse and some patients. It probably wasn't a hospital I'd ever have wanted to be treated at though, seeing as it had zero medical facilities and was actually just a load of bedrooms...
10. The Fat, Lazy, Pizza Eater
Not one of my more elaborate scenarios, but memorable all the same. I had a 'family' consisting of a single man, dressed in the slobbiest outfit the original Sims offered, who had basically no personality points. He was nasty, lazy, untidy... I have no idea how I got so much entertainment from making him repeatedly order pizzas and ignore the newspaper jobs section. But everything must eventually come to an end, and he had an unfortunate accident in the swimming pool when the steps mysteriously vanished... (guess he used up his nine lives being repeated electrocuted unskillfully repairing his broken TV)
So those are some of the weirdest ways I used The Sims... I did also create some normal families who had good jobs, nice kids and a maid and butler, sometimes never using a single cheat, but where's the fun in those?!
Given the opportunity again, there are still more things I'd create on the game - I think I'd start with Downton Abbey and then somehow fashion a Great British Bake Off tent - but unless I get to grips with the endless choices and vertigo-inducing spinning and zooming of the latest Sims games (what are they on, four, five?!) these will remain in my imagination only...
What weird things did you make on The Sims?!