10 Life Lessons From 10 Straight Hours of Playing Sims

When I got back from my friend's house late Friday night, I wasn't feeling great. It had been a long week, I was coming down with something and I was just overall not happy. I was in bed, staring at my ceiling and looking for something, anything, that could cheer me up. I made the most logical choice I could have. At 3 a.m., I downloaded the Sims 3, passed out in the process of downloading it and woke up to the 2009 release all installed and ready to go. I fired the game up and began playing. And kept playing. And kept playing until I looked up from my laptop and saw that the sun was down. I started playing at 10 that morning.

These are the lessons I learned over the course of my accidental 10 hour binge.

No one told me to do this, it wasn't an assignment. This was just me, my laptop and my low-key addictive personality.

1. The Sims rules.

This can't be said enough.

The Sims was and still is, an unprecedented anomaly. It was a series of PC games that was hugely popular with an audience that may never play another video game, let alone ever install another piece of gaming software on their desktops. Yet, its lasting influence may be something different from that. Every person I told about picking the game up again had the same reaction: "Oh my god, I loved The Sims." Everybody. If you spent your formative years in the mid '00s, The Sims probably came into your life in some way or another, regardless of your gender identity, where you were in your adolescence or where you grew up. That's incredibly rare in not just a general sense, but also in the wildly gendered sphere that big-budget, Triple-A video games are so often a part of. You could have a job, you could flirt with any of-age person, you could start families and you could come back from the dead. It had something for you, no matter your taste. This wasn't being asked, "Is the toy for a boy or a girl?" at the drive-thru, it was for everyone, even if it was rated T for Teen.

2.  You can do any job you set your mind to.

Enough of me rambling, let's get into the actual life lessons.
 
The game has a career function for older Sims and school and part-time options for the younger ones. Now, for Spanky Yamamoto, the bicyclist in the title photo and my first character, his life's drive was to become a renowned film composer. So what did he do? He biked up to the local theater and got a job on the music track. They hired Spanky on the spot (just like in real life), and he started taking the first steps towards his dream. I learned from Spanky that the way to start doing what you want in life is to start doing it in the first place.

3. Reinventing yourself isn't always a bad thing.

I conquered the film-scoring world with Spanky quicker than anticipated and quickly got bored. So Spanky was left to live his life with his roommates as I made a new character. One of the job options in the game is being a straight-up criminal, and my new Sim would reflect that career path. The new guy would be a combination of the evil-yet-aristocratic vibe that a Bond villain typically has (like Christoph Waltz in Spectre), with the affable Euro-ness and slight bumbling qualities of the U.S. Men's National Soccer Team's manager Jürgen Klinsmann. I named him after the coach. The more I spent with him, Jurgen became a much more compelling character to play with/as than his predecessor. It was surprisingly fun to play someone who, in addition to just being a mean-spirited weenie (his primary personality characteristic was literally just MEAN), was for real evil. Ditching a lovable composer to be a vaguely European crime boss taught me it's okay to try new things, no matter how weird they might be.

(Photo Sources: David Zentz, The Telegraph/MGM/Columbia Pictures)

4. Sometimes life (and your look) is best kept simple.

To match Jurgen's international evildoer inspiration (Sit on it, Klinsmann), I gave him the house and wardrobe to match. His closet consisted exclusively of light grays and navy blues in basic sweaters and slim pants, which somewhat inspired me to try that very intentional simplicity with my own clothes.

As for the house, I made it a home base fit for a bad guy on the rise. Using the International School style of architecture as my guide, I built a four-and-a-half story glass house on a deserted hill overlooking the city of Sunset Valley. It was complete with a home-encircling pool/moat, rooftop hangout space and only three colors used in the entire interior. I didn't really learn anything from that but it looked really good. 

5. If your life is getting boring, just adopt some kids! 

Jurgen climbed his career ladder, just like Spanky before him, way faster than I expected. My Sim's life consisted of little more than working at the crime factory, eating quiet dinners alone, and having consistent bathroom visits. It was a quiet, empty life being lived in a quiet, empty home. AKA: a super enjoyable way to spend your free time when you want a distraction from the crushing anxieties of your own life. As Jurgen got home from work one day and called to order a pizza, I saw that one of the phone options was "Adoption Agency" and clicked on that. Jurgen got on the phone, and not long after a bubble popped up saying, "Perfect! We'll be over to drop them off in a minute!" Next thing I know, Jurgen's two new sons are sitting at his doorstep, and it took about as much time as it would take for a pizza to get delivered. They were named Jurgen Junior & Giuseppe, and Jurgen Sr. quickly got down to fathering the crap out of those two.

Here he is helping the boys with their homework.

What this experience taught me was that the adoption process is super simple and fast, that being a parent is like a cool thing to try out if you don't have other stuff to do, and that if you adopt there's a chance the agency might throw in an extra, like when you go to McDonald's and there's more fries in the bottom of the bag but instead of fries it's a human child.

6. Childhood goes by fast.

Like really fast.

Like Jurgen Jr. and Giuseppe went to school all of two days before going from kids to teens, and then like three more after that before turning into young adults. I'm sure this had nothing to do with me messing with the age range filters in the game's options menu and more to do with that your kids just become adults so quickly in the eyes of their parents. It was an experience in reminding me to cherish the time I have with my family and friends, because you never know when someone's going to buy a birthday cake and magically age you up.

7. Pay your taxes.

The difficulty with leading an adult life is all the adult responsibilities. Like taxes, for example. Jurgen's new life was so full of taking care of the boys and work and trying to have it all that he forgot to check his mail and to pay his bills. As such, a repo-man showed up and started taking things from the house as collateral. All three of my Sims were shaken up for days, and I learned my lesson: Pay your bills, otherwise the repo-man will show up to your crib with his Ghostbusters-ass proton pack and suck your priceless works of art into his magical space backpack.

8. You will be in jail at some point.

As the number one dude in the Sims gang world and a chronic tax evader, Jurgen would sometimes be taken from work at the crime factory to the local jail by Sunset Valley's finest. It would be just like his work, just showing the exterior of a building until your Sim walks out and goes home. It was just a part of everyday life for ol' Jurgen. It was a valuable reminder that I am for sure going to be in jail and that it's not that bad as long as you say crazy things like THIS IS ALL JUST A COMPUTER SIMULATION, OFFICER, AND I AM BEING CONTROLLED BY A VERY HAIRY AND TIRED GUY.

9. COMMAND-SHIFT-C, MOTHERLODE. COMMAND-SHIFT-C, MOTHERLODE. COMMAND-SHIFT-C, MOTHERLODE.

I'M NOT OUT HERE SIMULATING ANOTHER LIFE TO STRUGGLE THROUGH IT, DOG. I AM TRYING TO EXPERIENCE #LUXURY, AND I WILL ABSOLUTELY USE THE GAME'S INFAMOUS MONEY CHEAT TO GET THAT. GLASS HOUSES DESIGNED BY WORLD-RENOWNED IMAGINARY ARCHITECT GIUSEPPE LOUDERMILK DON'T PAY FOR THEMSELVES. NEITHER DOES BAIL MONEY. I'M NOT ABOUT TO MAKE MY MAN JURGEN GO OUT AND TAKE A PART TIME JOB BAGGING GROCERIES TO SUPPLEMENT HIS UNDERWORLD KINGPIN INCOME, NO MA'AM. FROM THIS I LEARNED COMMAND-SHIFT-C, MOTHERLODE, COMMAND-A, COMMAND-C, COMMAND-V, REPEAT.

10. Please Sim Responsibly.

When I finally got out of my bed after my inadvertent marathon and went to the bathroom, I caught a look at my reflection in the mirror. In all the excitement, a blood vessel in my eye burst. I started laughing into the mirror, just amazed that this is where the day ended. What you should take away from this is don't be like me, if you're going to waste a whole Saturday playing games in the dark, take some breaks. Otherwise blood might show up in your eyes, or worse, you could end up writing dumb articles like this one.