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  • Eli Stuart (they/them)

Using Sims 4 to Evaluate my Needs

[Image description: Image is a white circle as the background to a light green diamond, a symbol for Sims 4 and other versions (the thing that floats over your sims' head). End of image description]

I will admit, I may like the Sims a little too much, a problem especially since time and energy isn’t there enough for it. In an attempt to include Sims in my life, I think about the need bars in the game.

No, seriously.

To be honest, I find a benefit as it can help me evaluate what I need to do to keep myself feeling as best as I can, which can be hard as a disabled person. Even non-disabled people I believe could benefit from this method.

There are 6 need bars in the Sims: Bladder, Hunger, Energy, Hygiene, Social interaction, and Fun. The bars go from green to yellow to red to RED (all caps). If you completely ignore the need, it will get to a point that your Sim has no choice but to focus on that one need, which does not lead to necessarily good ways to fulfill said need.

Energy is equated with sleep in the Sims. The best way to refill this need is to sleep or nap. Coffee or caffeinated tea is an option, but it is not a true replacement. Your sim will feel energized, but their energy will still be pretty low and once it wears off, they’re just as tired as before. I think this is a good analogy as caffeine is something people use to boost their energy, especially in the morning. But if you get two hours of sleep, all the caffeine in the world won’t replace that need. Your body still is tired, your mind is tricked, but still won’t perform well.

In the Sims, you can reach an “Energy Failure”, where your sim will just fall asleep whenever, meaning the ground, even if they’re two steps from a bed or couch. In real life, that failure could be falling asleep at school or work, falling asleep at the wheel, etc. Even before the “failure”, doing tasks is harder and the need for sleep stays throughout. That feeling of energy loss or fatigue does often follow me class-to-class, getting worse by the second, causing me to need to lie down or “do nothing” for sometime before doing anything like homework or chores or basic tasks. People without chronic fatigue still can relate to having so little energy that you're awake, but are dragging yourself through the day, just trying to get through it instead of joining actively.

Fun is a broader category in the Sims. Generally, reading, watching TV, or playing video games can fill that need, but sims can also fill that need with things they like (ie: writing, playing guitar). When sending sims to work or school, their fun depletes, and doubly so if you have them work hard. Sims often come home tense, their fun in desperate need of something before your sim can consider tasks like homework, cooking, etc.

Being pushed to keep working, to not be lazy, to not stop no matter what can weigh heavy and prevent us from taking time to do little enjoyable things. The Sims having this as a need is important as it demonstrates that needing to relax and take time for yourself or for “being lazy” is not just normal, but necessary. It’s unsustainable to always be working and that stress and tension only grows when you continue to ignore that need.

Social interaction is a need that is often filled by talking with other people. This can be done online/through a pen pal as well. Humans are social creatures. Granted, some people are introverted and so their social need is different from extroverts (The Sims account for this by having the need deplete faster in sims with the “Outgoing” trait and deplete slower in sims with the “Loner” trait). However, the pandemic showed connection, online or in person, is a necessity. Taking time to talk with others is beneficial, even if the conversation itself “isn’t important”, it is the connection with others that matters. The allowance for the social need to be solved with online interactions is a nice inclusion as not everyone can or prefer social interactions IRL (in real life).

Hunger is satisfied with food (not super insightful from me, but still). The game also acknowledges that too low on needs like energy and fun (if your sim doesn’t specifically like cooking or sets things on fire) can prevent you from cooking. There is the option of “Quick Meals” that require no cooking. However, there can be negative effects from eating too many quick meals. This is a larger issue, but one thing that has been brought up is that chronically ill people or people who deal with chronic fatigue and low energy can have difficulty cooking full meals and so rely mostly on frozen or quick make meals (such as cereal, which is an option in the game). Sometimes a more balanced diet or a rounder vegetarian and vegan diet is not accessible due to costs and the energy required to maintain such a diet (kinda a tangent, but something that I thought of).

Point is, it is important to eat, and eating something is better than nothing. Having “quick meals” still helps decrease your hunger and so even if you feel something “isn’t a real meal”, food is necessary and avoiding eating non-meals is worse than eating non-meals. More importantly, going through the day without food or pushing yourself to keep working and not satisfying hunger is does impact you and make it difficult to do other tasks

To be honest, the Bladder and Hygiene needs aren't things I use in looking at my spoons (though with hygiene, it is true that it may be outweighed by my "Energy" being low, aka when my fatigue and pain win out).

All of this is to say, while it is a little silly and unconventional, it is something I find somewhat helpful and a neat way to evaluate how to go forward with my day.

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