In college, playing The Sims was my escape from an overwhelmingly heavy course load, caused by taking seven classes each semester. For those of you who don’t know, The Sims is a series of video games created by Maxim and Electronic Arts, which allow you to live vicariously through characters you create and control.
The game is remarkably similar to real life, and teaches you valuable lessons if you’re willing to pay attention. Here’s what I learned.
#1- You Won’t Get Rich from a Regular 9 to 5
Almost every sim household I had was well-off before death, rich by the second generation, and rolling in cash by the third. I achieved this not with cheats, but by learning a valuable lesson: you won’t get rich from a regular 9 to 5.
As a result, the first characters I start out with always had side-jobs, or they worked in fields which not only made them money at work but also while at home.
For instance, my current sim household features a professional writer and a tech guru. The professional writer takes home a regular paycheck, and also earns royalties from the novels she publishes in her spare time.
The tech guru also takes home a regular paycheck and collects money from apps he makes while off the clock, as well as freelance work he completes on the side.
I follow this same principle today, which has earned me greater job satisfaction and better financial security, than merely surviving off a crappy 9 to 5.
#2 – Invest in your Business before your Home
The last family I played with in The Sims 3 were the richest I ever had. In the past, I spent a lot of money on the things that made home life comfortable – man cave in the basement, expensive computers, gourmet kitchen, and luxury cars.
This time around, I started my sims off in an old shack and spent all our disposable income on buying businesses in the area. I then used those profits to buy an old hotel, and poured everything into fixing it up. Profits from the hotel then bought me five resorts, two private islands, and a vacation home.
I applied the same logic to running my freelance business, and it has continued to grow since. I reinvest my profits into marketing, upgrading my devices and work space, and growing my skills.
Virtually every purchase has to be weighed against my business bottom line – whether it’s a new phone, a new trip, or even a new house. If it doesn’t bring me closer to my career goals, it can wait – for now.
#3 – Betrayal is a Relationship Killer
In the Sims 2, I once built a large household which included all my friends and our favourite celebrities. I then started the game and left them to interact, while I fetched some grub from the kitchen.
When I returned, I found one character flirting with her best friend, while her husband grew angry at the other side of the room. He then walked over and slapped her silly. After that I could never reconcile them. I had to start the game all over again.
In real life, we don’t have that option of wiping the slate clean and starting over like nothing ever happened. This reinforced the fact that it’s hard to fix a relationship when someone has betrayed the other’s trust, even in virtual reality.
Stay true to the people you love. Cheating and disloyalty are selfish acts. True love calls for self-sacrifice and selflessness, in order to grow and blossom.
#4 – Life Gets Boring when you Have Nothing to Work For
We all dream of being filthy rich and having the means to afford everything we want, but if your only goals in life are to achieve material things, life gets boring really quickly.
After I had owned every business, run several hotels, owned my dream home, and bought every luxury vehicle, there was really not much else to do. After a while, I would just delete that family and restart from scratch to work my way up to the top again.
This taught me that despite all the value we tend to place on material gains in life, we do need other things to keep us happy. We need to build bonds with the people we love, maintain hobbies, travel more, and devote as much of our resources as possible to helping other people.
While these were not things I could do in The Sims, these were real things I could enjoy in real life, whether rich or poor, and so can you.
Don’t judge your happiness by whether or not you’ve been keeping up with the Jones – or the Kardashians, as the case may be. Remember there are other things in life that make it worth living, or you’ll be without them later on, when you’ve achieved everything else.
#5 – Life Works Better when We All have Equal Rights
In all The Sims series I have played, all adults have equal rights, regardless of gender, race, or sexual preference. The game does not discriminate against anyone based on these characteristics; and I wonder how the people who do, ever make it through the game.
One of the wealthiest and most prestigious families in The Sims, The Goth Family, feature an interracial couple and biracial children. Both men and women can propose, and they are under no obligation to change their names after marriage.
More than likely your boss will be a racial minority. And don’t be surprised if you find out your son is gay on prom night. Random ruckus happens, and it’s all based on exposing people to the value of giving everyone equal rights – or at least, that’s what I think.
If you’ve played The Sims series before, then perhaps you noticed these things too. If you haven’t… well you can learn from these lessons whether you’ve played the game or not. It’s sometimes surprising where wisdom and inspiration can come from, but if you keep your mind open to learning new things you’ll begin to see the world in a whole new light.
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