Over the years, The Sims games transformed from a meta-life experience into a stage for my inner Jigsaw to enact elaborate deathtraps. All the classics made an appearance: disappearing bathroom toilet, disappearing pool ladder, and a slowly shrinking doorless room, all spiraling my Sims into a miserable pile of urine-soaked madness. And as an explanatory article in
The Sims Official Magazine
reveals, my torturous tendencies aren't alone.
Interviewed psychologists such as Dr. Jamie Madigan stated players instigating an age of woe upon their Sims "may not be as much of a subset as we might think." No, it isn't a mass lapse of sanity—it's simply human curiosity taking its natural course.
"People may simply be curious about what happens when they create these situations, and the results can even be seen as funny," Madigan said. “There are many different ways of playing the game, and these endless choices are what bring about enjoyment.”
Madigan also explained the inclination to fashion Sims approximating "slightly idealized versions of ourselves" that influence player behavior both in-game and in-life, saying, "People who used particularly tall avatars tended to be more assertive in negotiations both inside of a virtual world and in the real world immediately after turning off the game." Hey, it worked for Keanu Reeves.
The Sims' addictive qualities also came under the psychological lens, with Madigan explaining the pervasive enjoyment of goal-setting and achievements keeps us glued to watching little green bars go up and down. "I think that if you took away those rewards and progress meters, people would be much more likely to abandon the game," she said.
Read the rest of
the psychology of The Sims
for more justification to inflict utter misery upon digital denizens.