Transferring Our Sim Satisfaction to Our Real Selves by Kieran HarrisPosted: 29 Jul 2022
There’s just not enough hours in the day, is there? To work, clean, wash, eat, exercise, drink, sleep and relax is a lot to pack into 24 hours and our priorities are very rarely on the things that really matter here: Eating, exercising and sleeping.
Let’s be honest, for a lot of us (myself absolutely included,) the relaxing part usually takes the majority of our time once work has been finished and who can blame us? That’s what we all want to do. The problem is that it’s at the cost of balancing our physical health too, and when our physical health isn’t great, your mental health is sure to follow it.
When we relax, one of the many things we do to wind down is to play some games. Transporting yourself away to a fictional land experiencing the lives of others is wondrous and exciting, it separates us from the worries and struggles of our lives. Yet, many of us play simulation games to relax that tests our ability to work at something very real but in a virtual way.
Perhaps the biggest example of this would be the EA powerhouse The Sims. For years by playing The Sims we’ve created our dream scenarios using our virtual selves to shape the life we wish we could have for real. The Sims gives us the tools to work towards our dream job, home and lifestyle and we become masters of keeping our virtual selves happy and healthy. We love nothing more than seeing those sad emoticons become big and smiley, showing the progress that we make by completing a simple task like eating something healthy or indulging in a nice bit of exercise.
Each little step we take in-game is a step to making our Sim happy, both physically and mentally. Your Sim has wishes, and those wishes are the game’s way of giving you small and simple steps that build your sim’s happiness. More recently on The Sims 4, you have whims, urges and wants that will build their (or our) satisfaction.
We don’t hesitate to complete the tasks that will raise our Sim’s satisfaction, so why do we struggle so much to raise our own?
When you consider that working towards progress on a game is not actually for our Sim’s benefit but actually our own, it’s easy to realize that actually we could be using this time to actually truly help ourselves. Gaming is an incredible tool to de-stress, to lower anxiety and to have fun but like all things, too much of it can be detrimental. Some of that time needs to be used to focus on our body and The Sims is a perfect example for how to satisfy our needs.
The Sims teaches us that looking after ourselves is simpler than we make it out to be. The simple progress bars detailing hunger and other important health stats is something we could easily apply to our real selves. If you imagine that you’ve not done any exercise for the day so your progress bar would be empty, I’m sure as a gamer you’d feel completely unfulfilled.
Managing ourselves is simpler when we gamify our needs. I’ve taught myself to not think of exercise as a chore but think of it as an objective. Picture that feeling you get when you see your Sim with the happy icon showing that they’re currently feeling fulfilled. It’s incredibly satisfying looking at a Sim that’s done everything they need to be happy and healthy, leaving them to improve their skills at a hobby or aim for that promotion at work. Each whim we complete is something we too could do for ourselves. That New Year’s Resolution doesn’t have to be a temporary mindset, it can be a wish that you’re determined for your Sim to achieve but this time it’s for you.
The easiest way to do this that I’ve found is to make something visual to represent my feelings. It could be a chart, a tally, or even something as simple as a list. Just as we see the feelings of our Sims change as we play, create yourself something physical that can help you quantify your need to complete these tasks. If we do this, we can apply those same urges we have with our sims to ourselves, making managing our body much more engaging.
If your Sim is hungry, lacking sleep or lacking exercise, they’re sad and we are exactly the same. These three things are hugely important not only for our body but for our minds too. A healthier body is a healthier mind and we feel energized and prepared for the day ahead if we’ve satisfied our own needs. Sometimes what we think we need actually isn’t good for us, so it’s up to us to find out what helps us as individuals. It’s about making the same effort we do with our virtual selves as we do in real life as the long-term benefits will surely speak for themselves.
I’m no expert in any of these fields and of course problems can be had with each person so please do seek a professional should you need help. Yet I am someone who is slowly learning myself to take control over my body in the same way I’ve controlled my characters on something that is ultimately insignificant and I encourage you to try the same. The Sims is a wonderful game and a great reminder to just take care of ourselves. It teaches us that by working through our desires step by step we can be happy and live an incredibly successful life. It is, however, still a game and our body needs to come first so that our mind can also be happy. Gaming is an integral part to our happiness, we just need to ensure that we listen to The Sims and keep everything balanced.
Kieran Harris is a writer from the West Midlands, UK. He spends most of his time going to gigs and playing video games. He studied Creative Writing and English at university and loves nerding out to amazing stories and learning how to craft them for his own endeavours.