Ben's Gaming Memories - The Sims

When I was a kid, going to visit my cousins was always a fun time. They lived in a fancy subdivision close to St. Louis (which was out of state for me), and they seemed to always have the coolest games and toys. Their house was where I first played Super Mario World on the SNES, it's where I first played Mario 64 and was blown away by the 3D graphics, and because they lived near a major city, they had access to places like Block Buster and the largest malls around! (And now both are dead!) Usually when we visited them we would spend the night, so it always felt like a mini vacation to me. I had a lot of fun there, and I always looked forward to the next time we could go back.

Of course I could go on and on about all the things we would do as a family, but as a gaming blog I guess I should keep that to a minimal. The thing is, despite having a lot of gaming firsts at their house, one of the things that always stood out to me the most at their house was their PC. You see, growing up I didn't have one. My grandpa eventually bought one, but I wasn't really allowed to use it until I was older. Instead the only time I really got to touch one was at their house, and even then I was limited on what I could do. I mean I was just a kid, and unlike kids of today, kids back then didn't really mess with computers. We were lucky to play Jump Start 1st Grade in school, yet alone really sit down and use one. And because my parents didn't know much about them, nor did we really have the extra money for such a thing, me getting one of my own was out of the question. Heck, only reason I did get one years later was because my aunt's (different aunt) company was getting rid of a junk one! But anyway (getting back on topic here), the point is I was never really around computers, so seeing one at my cousin's house was huge. What was even bigger for me though was the fact I got to play a new game called "The Sims."


At this point I shouldn't really have to explain what The Sims is, but to be brief... The Sims is a simulation game where you play with life. You create a family, build a house, take care of your Sim's basic needs (they have to eat, use the toilet, shower, etc), and ultimately lead them to successful lives. OR you can make their life a nightmare, and watch how fast you can set them on fire in a house that "magically" had it's doors removed. (Not sorry.) Basically though, the game was like a doll house that you had complete control over, and it let you live out any fantasy you could think of. To me that was amazing, and I couldn't get enough of playing it.

Each time I went to their house, I would ask to play the Sims, and then spend time playing it with my cousins. We'd make different houses, create different Sims, and just have fun messing around with them. Although I didn't own it myself, it eventually became a game we would talk about quite often, and they'd always tell me the moment a new expansion came out for it! I still remember the day I got signed out early from school because they came down for a visit, and we ended up talking about The Sims for hours. They were all excited about the new expansion that added in pets, and I just remember wishing I could go back to their house to play it. Funny enough, I never did. This was the last time we really talked about the original Sims game, but it wasn't the last time I'd play it.

About two years later (now finally having a PC of my own), my cousins bought me The Sims Deluxe edition for Christmas, and for the first time in my life I got to play the game as much as I wanted to. It was an exciting day for me, and one I'll never forget. I stayed up late all night playing it, and would go on to continue playing it for years to come. I loved it, but it was really just the start.

The Sims 2 was a game that was out of my reach once again. My PC couldn't handle it, and around this time we stopped seeing my cousins as much. I did go to my neighbor's house to play Sims Busting Out on his PS2 from time to time, but it wasn't the same. Eventually I did buy Sims 2 for the Nintendo DS, but even that was nothing like the actual Sims 2. It was a fun game, don't get me wrong, but it was more of a story based spin off than an actual Sims release. It wasn't until my aunt went through her divorce, and my cousins moved in with my Grandma that I finally got to play the real Sims 2, but that wasn't really a good time. They were going through obvious hardships, and as a young teen I didn't really know how to handle that. I just assumed everything would be okay in the end, but I didn't know how or when. During all of this is when I started spending time with all of them again, and it's what eventually lead my cousin Andrea to buy The Sims 2 (for both of us to play.) It was weird having them around all the time though, and ultimately we didn't spend a whole lot of time playing the Sims. Sure, once in awhile I'd go over to play it, but that's really about it. It wasn't really until they moved back out of state that I gave the game more of a chance, and that was only because I was starting college.

I used to always say I wanted to buy a laptop, and then fill it with The Sims. A good laptop that could run all of the expansions, and be able to take the game with me anywhere. I never expected that to happen, but when I started school that dream became a reality. Apparently Sims 3 was already out at the time, but I had no idea, and went with what I knew -- The Sims 2. I finally had a job of my own so I could afford it, and I made sure to buy as many of the expansions as possible. I didn't get all of them (at least not until they were given away for free many years later), but I bought enough to keep me busy both at home and at school. (Of course I had to buy the college expansion, because it was one I could relate to!) It was a lot of fun, and it eventually became a game I would play with my neighbor as well. Sadly the laptop I had was too weak to upgrade to Sims 3, but it was fine. I was happy with what I had, and there was plenty left for me to buy expansion wise. But in the end, it only lasted me for a couple of years. Eventually my laptop died, along with my desktop, and I was forced to upgrade.

When I got my new desktop, I decided to go with something a bit more powerful. I was tired of not being able to play games, and I wanted something that would last me. So stupid me bought a slim HP PC with integrated graphics, and a weak CPU. Yep... Back then I had no idea about computers, and I just assumed something newer would work for anything. Technically it was fine for the games I wanted to play at the time, but obviously it didn't get me very far. That being said, The Sims 3 was one of the first games I went out to buy for it, and thankfully it was strong enough to run it.

With The Sims 3 once again I found myself spending a lot of time playing it. Not too long before I got my new PC, I had gone out and bought it for the Xbox 360 instead, but (like with The Sims 2) this wasn't really the full experience. The game had to be toned down for consoles (no open world map), and playing on console just wasn't that easy. Once I got the PC version however, all of my time was sunk into that. I put a lot of time and effort into each house I made, and using the new community features I spent quite a lot of time updating friends, and sharing creations with them. It was a lot of fun, and so much better than the 360 release. At the time I assumed this would be the version of The Sims that would last me for years to come, but soon I found out just how wrong I was. 

Around 2013 my PC was really showing it's age. It was having issues running things, and I started to realize just how "bad" of a PC it really was. It turns out that model was prone to overheating issues when playing games (explained the jet engine sound even when idling), and I eventually got too paranoid to keep playing games on it. I heard about The Sims 4 coming out, but figured I wouldn't play it until I got a new PC, and by then I honestly didn't care anymore. I was kinda Simsed out, and was more focused on console gaming once again. (Not to mention the fact that I had finished college, and was now moving onto a full time job, so I had less free time.) Eventually that PC did fully break down though (thanks Windows 10 update), and once again I found myself updating to a new PC -- this time a custom built gaming rig.

While my main reasons for wanting a gaming PC were mostly for games like Final Fantasy XIV, I'd be lying if I said The Sims 4 wasn't one of my first purchases. At the time it was on a summer sale in a bundle, so I pulled the trigger and bought it. Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed at first. Gone was the open world, gone was the more advanced house building tools, gone was the custom clothing and furniture patterns, and gone was the old social feed. It felt like a huge down grade in many ways, and I just didn't give it much of a chance. Later on at Christmas I would spend most of the day playing it with my cousin, and that's how I eventually realized how much the gameplay had improved, but that didn't fully change how I felt about the game. It wasn't until a few expansions (and updates) later that I felt the game really came into it's own, and even then I still didn't like the removal of the open world map. It switched back to the style of 1 and 2, and for me that was hard to go back to. But go back to it I did.

Last month (March of 2021) I had to have my wisdom teeth removed. It's something I've been dealing with since around the time I started this blog, and now finally it was time to get them removed. I was pretty nervous, and the risks involved with the surgery didn't help things. A few days prior I had downloaded The Sims 4 on my PlayStation 5 just for the heck of it, and the night before the surgery me and my girlfriend Allison decided to give it a shot. She isn't big on video games (she's watched me play through a few), but The Sims is a game from her childhood as well. She had similar fond memories as I did from playing it with her cousins and other family members, so we decided to give it a shot. Rather than just using it to mess around with our Sim's lives however, we started it up and played it the legit way -- something I have never really done.

(I got a little help from the library)

Playing The Sims 4, without cheating, is a very different experience. There is so much going on in the game that you just don't realize, and there's a lot you have to manage. Obviously you need to meet your Sim's needs, but you also need to keep the house up and running. You need to make money to upgrade your appliances, you need to clean the house, repair things that are broken, take care of laundry, feed your pets, make sure your kids don't completely destroy the house that you are trying to clean and repair, get your Sims to work on time, get the kids to school on time, deal with the people who come visit you, take part in the holidays and events that happen throughout the year (all while completing the event goals), plan outfits for different seasons, make sure your Sims don't freeze to death of burn to death, put out fires, work actual jobs if you have the Get to Work expansion (I do), and, and, and... It's just never ending! Just when you think you have things figured out, a curve ball gets thrown at you (congrats it's twins!), and now you're rethinking everything you thought you had figured out. It's crazy just how much like life The Sims has become, and how many features have actually been added in.

You now have social networking, video gaming skills, you can enter tournaments, go snow boarding in the mountains, uncover the mystery in StrangerVille (not going to lie, that was kinda horrifying), open your own business and run it (recreated my family's bakery), become a dancer, become a singer, become a comedian, and so on. Each chat/action category also has so many different choices now, you never really know what your Sims are going to do. While the game is a down grade in some areas from The Sims 3 still, it really makes up for it in all the new additions to the core gameplay. Heck, right before I downloaded the game to my PS5, a new free update came out that added bunk beds! The game is still getting new content all the time, and constantly improving itself. What was once a meh replacement for the amazing The Sims 3, is now a game I don't want to see come to an end any time soon. After only a month of playing, we have already received the platinum trophy, yet we have only scratched the surface of everything that is actually in the game. It's just that big, and each day we find something new. Eventually I plan to buy the rest of the expansion packs as well, but that'll be something I'll slowly work towards in the future.

Overall I'm really enjoying my time with The Sims 4, and I hope it becomes a game both me and Allison can continue to return to for years to come. The Sims has always been special to me, and now I'm not alone.

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