I honestly can’t believe I am writing about this, yet alone that I’m playing the game. But alas, I have finally succumbed to the onslaught of Facebook games and played The Sims Social. I have only dabbled in the Sims series outside of the awesomeness that is Sim City (and subsequently Sim City 2000), so playing The Sims Social is my first deep venture into the series. And into Facebook gaming as well. After spending a little over a week the game, as per my girlfriend’s request, I can safely say I’m addicted. For better or for worse. If you’ve got a Facebook account, time to kill, and a penchant for tinkering with a person’s life, you should be addicted too!
The Sims Social follows the same, albeit truncated, formula as the rest of the games in the series: Make a stylized human being, dress them up, build their house, and assign tasks for them to do day to day. Your Sim has basic needs to fulfill in order to stay happy, including eating, bathing, washing, sleeping, having fun, and being, as the name implies, social. Interacting with household objects like microwaves satiate your need to consume, watching TV enhances your Sim’s fun, and so on. Though there’s not as much customization available in full retail versions of the game, the amount of content you can buy, upgrade, and interact with in The Sims Social is pretty staggering. Check out my house below:
That’s a standard house that you start with, just with extra shit in it and a few extra small rooms. As you don’t go to work in this version of the game you have to earn money (called Simoleons) by other means. Harvesting crops is a viable means, but there are four skills that you’ll be doing to gain cash: Cooking, writing, composing music, and painting. As you gain more skill in these practices you gain more money per piece made and gain extra experience. Guitars and electric keyboards are available to get your creative juices flowing, as well as computers, typewriters, and word processors.
There’s really nothing here that is new to the series, and fans of the genre will find it all too familiar. That being said, the one new addition connects with Facebook well. By adding your actual Facebook friends as your “Neighbors” in the game, you can visit their Sim, go to their house, and even pursue a romantic (or hated) relationship. The entire game hinges on this interaction, as many quests will have you going to your friends places and asking them for something, talking to them about jokes, or otherwise doing stuff together. On top of this, certain quests in the game will ask you to ask for help from your friends, and in order to progress you must post something to your actual Facebook wall asking for help. Your friends must then see your post and click on the “Help” button to give you the necessary item you need to advance. This method of progression is tedious and completely unnecessary for a game, but EA (The makers of the game) are clearly taking advantage of social networking and forcing avid players to spread the word about their game in order to progress. It boils down to the game being slow and intrusive to other players who may not play as much as you, constantly getting requests from you to give them a wrench or the illusive Buzz.
So why in the hell am I still playing this game?!
Good questions. Let’s looks first at the faults. When you get right down to it, The Sims Social is nothing more than a waste of time. You just sit there clicking on stuff, watching your avatar say some gibberish, and collect money or experience to buy stuff and progress to the next level. While this is a crux for any video game, here it isn’t visceral or engaging, it’s just time consuming. Take any console RPG (I’ll throw out Final Fantasy X as an example): In that game if you take out the story in order to be fair to The Sims Social for not having any worthwhile story, then all your left with is a game where you also walk around, push buttons, and gain experience. The difference here is that FFX is fun. Killing things feels rewarding; you’re not stopped periodically to invite friends to play, you don’t have to wait to keep playing the game, level advancement is necessary to progress, quests are varied, the list goes on. But comparing this game to any other isn’t fair… this is a “Social Game.” Facebook is a revolutionary piece of technology, and with it comes revolutions in games, for better or worse.
So the game is really just pointless, time-wasting, battery-draining, clicks on your mouse. And here’s why that’s worth it: I feel like my Sim is a reflection of myself (or who I want to be). I enjoy seeing him gain money, I want to expand my house, I want to do the quests out of some unknown righteousness that I must get them done. I know the game’s a waste of time, but I enjoy seeing my Sim in love with my girlfriend’s Sim (Coincidentally this was the initial reasoning for me playing the game). I like seeing my house value/level increase. Overall, the game is a FUN way to waste time. Best yet, you can play at your own pace. If you’ve only got a half hour to play per day, then you can do that. If you want to play hours per day, you can! That’s something that a lot of games nowadays just cannot do.
So that’s what I’ve been playing recently. Don’t judge me for playing it before you at least give it a try yourself. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to get into, and at how quickly it dug its ravenous claws into my time. Now if you’ll excuse… there’s more Simoleons to be made.