“My friends hate me, I can’t pay my bills, the place is a mess and I’m really tired…” No, I’m not having a breakdown, I’m talking about my “Sim” character. Go ahead– sigh, roll your eyes – that’s exactly how I felt about computer games since I “outgrew” them about 20 years ago. Then one day an XBox® appeared in the living room and I started playing The Sims™ Bustin’ Out. This “silly” game has driven the “balance your life” lesson home to me in a way that no book or article has ever done.
In the game, you need to keep your Sim in a good mood by keeping 8 motives in balance: Hunger, Hygiene, Energy, Social, Comfort, Bladder (when you gotta go, you gotta go), Fun, and Room. From the instruction guide: “Sims are happiest in clean, well-lit homes with nice furnishings… All work and no play is a sure way to grump out your Sim... Keep your Sim in the social swing by making friends and developing strong relationships with fellow Sims.”
While keeping all of these life aspects in balance, my Sim is also building a career. Going to work in a good mood helps him get ahead. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? I thought so too and started playing similarly to how I live my life: my Sim always made it to work, but tried cutting corners on housekeeping and didn’t make much of an effort to maintain relationships. He quickly became grumpy and I really had to work to figure out how to get the fun level to go from red to green. The night he peed on the floor twice and started a kitchen fire was a definite low, but now I’ve figured out that he needs to spend more time out of his house visiting friends to be happy.
Although I’ve only been playing the game a short while, I already find myself mentally checking my own motives: hmm, the house looks ok and my hair looks great, but I haven’t talked to S in a while, and E and I need a night out. A few phone calls later and my relationship level is out of the red and into the green. Thanks to my Sim, I’m finally “getting” it: mood is a function of balancing how you spend your time, and fun doesn’t just happen ¬- you have to make the effort and take the time for it. The game has much more to it including levels and options I haven’t started to explore yet, but it will have to wait. I’m going out with friends tonight.
How does the Real Me measure up against My Sim?
Will pee on the floor if bathroom needs aren’t met
Does NOT pee on the floor
Will refuse to do something "not fun" if the fun meter is too low to avoid being too grumpy.
Will force myself to do what I’m “supposed to do” regardless of fun, and then be extremely crabby.
Leaves important mail lying all over the house
Uhh, I do that too sometimes.
Tries to compensate for lack of sleep with coffee
I’m trying not to do that as often
full disclosure: I wrote this a while ago, but it still holds true...