Although I am a big fan of The Sims, I have noticed how psychology and capitalism play a big part in the gameplay. I’d like to argue that The Sims—particularly The Sims 3— allows players to live through their Id, which is a term coined by Freud to mean the source of our needs, wants, desires and impulses. In addition, I want to point out how the game can exclude players from their social life and how the gameplay teaches us about capitalism.
To begin, players can become so wrapped up with their Sims that they may slowly start to disregard their own life. In other words, The Sims game becomes a source to live a life full of people or “sims,” but in turn removes players from their own social life or ties.
Personally speaking, when I started my first Sims family on The Sims 3, I created people I knew. I challenged myself to recreate my house and family for instance. This caused me to become alienated, and I’m sure that other Sims players I know have, too.
By becoming alienated, the function of family and friends becomes replaced by the Sims family the game generates, because the player spends more time playing with the Sims family than their real family and friends. In my case, family and friends became replaced by the family and friends I recreated in the game.
Living out your Id
First, let me further explain what I mean by Id. There are three parts of the structural psyche Freud coined. There’s the Id, the ego and the super-ego. The Id is the dark side of our personality. The Id is considered the “dark side” of our personality by our society because it holds no judgments of value. For instance, it doesn’t understand good from evil or morality, whereas our super-ego is the part that controls our sense of morality and our sense of right or wrong.
To sum it up, the Id is what our society would consider “socially unacceptable behavior” and the super-ego would be considered socially acceptable behavior. Get it?
Okay, so essentially I want to argue that The Sims is a place where players can live out their Id because it’s not a real world, so there’s no sense of real consequences that our super-ego can disallow us from doing.
This comes to play with several different games. For example, we have all read articles on violence in games and how society believes that if you play a violent game, you will do something terrible outside of the gameplay. However, I don’t think this is the case. I think that at the heart, players love the world of games because subconsciously, it is a place where they can live through their Id… or their wants, desires, etc.
In turn, by living these out, it becomes therapeutic because you are subconsciously releasing these desires within gameplay.
How do players live through Id in the Sims?
For one, a player can choose to explore different characters and personalities they may not have in real life; for instance, a villain. Players can also play through Id by using cheats.
By using cheats, players are able to fulfill their desires by easily taking what they want through a simple code. Cheats allow several different Id options. For instance, you can kill your Sim character several different ways and you can easily make another Sim fall in love with you.
Capitalism and Id
The Sims 3 is driven by the world of capitalism. This is one of the most realistic components from our real-world that is integrated into the video game. How? The game teaches players how to become consumers and also integrates players with false consciousness. False conciousness comes from Marxism and it’s part of a capitalist society. This is where the media subconsciously tells people that if they do not succeed or become “rich” it is because they weren’t smart enough or did not work hard enough.
In a similar way, The Sims 3 shows this idea because if your character does not obtain the skills they need to become promoted, or they do not show up to work, do their homework, or miss school… they have essentially “failed.” In addition, this comes to play through the lifetime wishes players choose for each character. If you are unable to fulfill a character’s lifetime goal your character essentially “fails.”
Moreover, capitalism is part of the Sims world because as you purchase your house, you become tempted to fill that home with stuff. If you want money to get these things you need a job.
However, this is also where the Id can come to play. Getting a hold of money is easily manipulated through the player’s Id if they use a cheat. With cheats like “motherlode” and “kaching,” players are able to steal money and become part of the Sims “high-class.”
How do you play Sims?
Have you tried any of the things I have mentioned in this article? Also, how do you play the Sims? Do you create your own family or friends or do you create a completely different family or both? Share your thoughts!