Somewhere deep within the Maxis compound more than a decade ago, Will Wright proposed the idea of smashing a doll house and a God Complex together into one video game where players lead in-game people throughout the trials and tribulations of everyday life. Players would be in complete control of what their little people did, if they succeeded, and who they worked with towards whatever goal they wanted. The creator of Sim City was giving players to do effectively whatever the wanted through vicarious living, and the world of gaming was forever changed.
While scores of essays have been written about the importance of The Sims as a watershed moment for the gaming industry (appealing to a wide audience, making boatloads of money etc.), the game is also one of the most progressive in the history of the medium. Early on, players found out that their in game friendships could blossom into romance through a kiss. The option is never forced on the player however; no matter how flirty another Sim may be, you are the one who makes the call. Without forcing players into any sort of sexual orientation, lifestyle, or family build, The Sims single handedly became a reflection of a player’s own values and desires. No one is forcing you to do anything, but you won’t get punished for living a certain way either.
So, in some ways, players have the ability to live out their own perfect reality in The Sims. For the young kid exploring his or her sexuality, Sims can be having normal lives with the ups and downs of any other couple. Players who simply want to live a life similar to their own can find whatever partner they please and marry him or her. However, success is never dependent on one aspect of the Sim’s life. You still have to balance energy bills, food, hygene, and try not to jump into any ladderless pools. Its tough out there, people will argue, people will move out, and sometimes your dumbass kid will set the house on fire trying to reset the pinball machine.
But thats life. The Sims should be commended for providing a safe and inviting enironment for players from cultures and mindsets all over the world to bond and share information over a common hobby. By watching life unfold against a safe suburban community, it is almost an idyllic representation of what life could be if people worked together to solve problems and care about one another. For giving players the mere option of living the life the want without consequence, tragedy or perks, Maxis and The Sims deserves a spot on this list.