Created on Saturday, 01 October 2011 00:00
Written by Yvonne Toh
The realistic model of suburban living is taking Facebook by storm. Still in its beta phase, web-based application, Sims Social, has already garnered over 45 million daily users.
Through their Facebook account, these users register the form and appearance of their Sim, an alter ego personality that can be personalized by the Facebook user. The personalization includes a name, skin colour, clothes, hairstyle, accessories and, of course, a personality as well as a home complete with furniture and all.
Some may have indulged in the earlier versions of the computer game, which has gone a long way in its product line. The Sims was first released in February 2000, followed by seven expansion packs and two sequels, The Sims 2 and The Sims 3. Plus, The Sims is also an all time best-selling PC game, which explains the familiar addictive feel I got drawn to when I started playing the web-based application.
But unlike other fast-paced, exciting games, Sims Social does not allow me to engage in high-speed races on roads, nor do I get to shoot down alien spaceships with high-tech weapons.
So, what is the appeal? The game, which simulates real life, puts your Sim through life, starting you off with a three-room landed property, and you are free to purchase new items to increase your house value as well as interact with your friends’ Sims.
Not a lot of people realize this, but the underlying appeal lies in some brainy theories you may have come across. In Sims Social, the user’s core responsibility is to keep your Sim happy and satisfied, achieved through getting them to eat, stay hygienic, be social with their neighbours and have a good amount of fun. If not attained, the Sim will get grumpy and angry.
As such, users like myself are subconsciously questioned about the essentials in living, what really makes us happy? Is it the attractively red sofa, or just having the necessities in life?
Without a doubt, Sims Social has largely adapted the theory behind Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a basic theory learnt in the field of psychology. In its respective order, the all-rounded wellness of your Sim is attained through securing their physiological, safety and social needs. A lack thereof will send red signals of frustration and your Sim will literally run to the bathroom for a shower to satisfy their physiological need of being clean and hygienic. Similar to real life, being hygienic and satisfying hunger is an essential human need.
Sims Social is as realistic as it can be, users can earn Simoleons and social points to use to purchase any item, and develop various levels of friendships – and even a romantic relationship with another Sim. This could also be applied to one of the levels of the hierarchy of needs, namely esteem.
Also, you get to personalize each room you have to your desire. On the other hand, when electronics are damaged, you will need to repair them too. This helps remind you that real life contingencies and issues will come along when you purchase more items for your household, such as having to clean the extra toilet bowl if you have two bathrooms and make another bed if you have more.
But of course, there are always the down sides to a game. It can be quite a hassle to constantly take care of your Sim when you have your real life to handle and, for some, it has caused somewhat of an unhealthy obsessive concern about a virtual character too.
My advice would be, if you need a reality check in life, get started on the Facebook application, but play in moderation. Now, let me get back to giving my Sim her shower of the day.