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The Sims

The Sims is a strategy/simulation computer game, created by game designer Will Wright and published by Maxis. First released in 2000, it is the most successful computer/video game in history. Like other Maxis games, such as the earlier SimCity (also designed by Wright), The Sims is sometimes described as a "god game": a game that lets you create and control the lives of virtual people.

As with previous Maxis games, The Sims is a departure from most previous computer games, which tend to have a definite goal or objective. Instead, the game focuses entirely on virtual people called "Sims", placing the player in control of a "virtual dollhouse", controlling their daily activities such as sleeping, eating, cooking and bathing, to name a few.

Instead of objectives, the player is encouraged to make their own choices and engage fully in an interactive environment. As such, the game has successfully attracted casual gamers. The only real objective of the game is to organize the time of their Sims to help them reach personal advancement goals.

Sims have a certain amount of free will, and although you can instruct them to do something, they may decide that something else needs to be done first, or even outright ignore your commands. The player must make decisions about time spent in personal development, such as exercise, reading, creativity, and logic, by adding activities to the daily agenda of the sims. Daily maintenance requirements must also be scheduled, such as personal hygiene, eating, and sleep. If the simulated humans do not receive the proper amount of maintenance, they will sicken and die. Financial health is simulated by the need to send the sims to find jobs, go to work, pay bills, and take advantage of personal development and social contacts to advance in their jobs.

In addition, the game includes a very advanced architecture system. Incidentally, the game was originally designed as an architecture simulation alone, but it was decided that there was no point in building a house if there was nobody to live in it. The architectural side of Sims was more fully developed in the SimCity series of games.

The inner structure of the game is actually an agent based[?] artificial life program.

The presentation of the game's artificial intelligence is very advanced, and the sims will respond to outside conditions by themselves, although often the player/controller's intervention is necessary to keep them on the right track. The Sims technically has unlimited replay value, in that there is no way to win the game, and you can play on indefinitely. It has been described as more like a toy than a game.

There are some limitations to The Sims, most notably that children never grow up to become adults, though babies do eventually become children. Also adult Sims never age, and there is no concept of a weekend. For example, the adult sims go to work every day and the child sims go to school every day.

The sims are directed totally on the basis of instructing them to interact with another object, be that a television set, a radio, or another sim. Sims may receive house guests, which are actually based on the sims of other game files. The player cannot control 'visiting' sims, although it is important for sims interact with one another in order to develop a healthy social life.

The Sims uses a combination of 3D and 2D graphics techniques. The sims themselves are rendered as high-poly-count 3D objects, but the house, and all its objects are pre-rendered, and displayed dimetrically.

In 2002, The Sims became the top-selling computer/video game in history, displacing the game Myst. It has been a success in many ways—attracting casual gamers and female gamers (which account for 50% of sales)—unusual in a market traditionally dominated by young males. However, due to the game's immense success, questions have been raised about the game's values; notably concerns about the game's seemingly blatant consumerism. However, it has to be noted the game takes account of this; as a larger house may in fact make lives for the sims more difficult as they take a longer time to walk around to do things.

Maxis recently (December 2002) completed The Sims Online, which recreates The Sims as a massively-multiplayer online game[?], where actual human players can interact with each other. If it repeats the success of The Sims in bringing in casual gamers, there lies a massive potential for a mass social experiment, discovering how non-gamers or even non-Internet people would interact with each other in a entirely virtual game world.

Expansions to The Sims

The Sims is one of the most heavily exploited computer game franchises ever. It has more expansion packs than any other game. Here is a partial list of expansion packs available for The Sims (more or less in chronological order):

The Sims is now available as The Sims Deluxe Edition[?]. It is not an expansion to the game, but a repackaging of the game along with the Livin' Large expansion and an editor, The Sims Creator[?] to create sim "skins."

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