As a national lockdown loomed, I – like all self-respecting adults – figured there would be no better opportunity to force my boyfriend to download The Sims 4 back onto my decade-old laptop and fall right back into the loving bosom of some familiar and ultimately rancid habits.
As anyone who has lost cumulative days of their life to this game will know, when you play The Sims, time as you understand it ceases to function normally. You start idly enough, cheerily making a Sim that is essentially a subconscious manifestation of physical qualities you find hot, installing a bar in the kitchen, doing "motherlode" immediately so you can buy a chaise longue. Then – somewhere around the point that you reach Level 7 of the Culinary Skill, after forcing your Sim to make endless grilled cheeses – something terrible happens. You come to with unidentifiable crisp dust all down you, little memory of the preceding half a day, and a deeper-than-usual sense of shame.
After playing it for the last few weeks, I: a) have had some very weird coronavirus / Sims crossover dreams that I simply won't go into here, because they were unspeakably dark, and b) have had some thoughts about what's missing from the game and how the current format could be improved upon, should EA smile benevolently on the millions currently locked inside their homes – unable to attend their own Karaoke Parties or make Friendly Introductions to strangers – and release The Sims 5. Please: we have lots of puffed corn snacks to get through.
SCAN YOURSELF AND YOUR SURROUNDINGS
I am an impatient little brat, so for me, one of the slightly more annoying things about The Sims is how long it takes to create a Sim. I'm a fan of the quiz feature on The Sims 4, which determines each Sim's personality, but when it comes to appearance, wouldn't it be cool if you could just get it over and done with quickly by scanning yourself or a friend via webcam, having that translated as a character in the game, and then playing as that Sim?
As someone with zero technical know-how, I cannot tell you how feasible that is – but, via the search engine Google, I found this article from 2016 that says the technology to do essentially this does already exist. Obviously there's then the potential problem of somebody using these facial and body scans to harvest and sell your data, but if EA could do us a solid on that one, that would be great.
GOOGLE EARTH COLLAB
This follows on from my "scanning yourself" point: it would also be great if you could pick a place on Google Earth and have that transformed into your neighbourhood. This would depend on The Sims 5 having the capacity to animate basically any image, so is fairly impractical considering the toll the game already takes on most garden variety PCs and laptops – but can't we all agree that it would be A Laugh to just drop a pin in, like, the Bermuda Triangle, and see what happens?
Obviously, for many of us, The Sims is a way to live out our base desires and impulses (s/o every would-be serial killer who puts their Sims in the pool and takes the ladder out), so we don't necessarily want the game to totally reflect reality. But for all of the people who play the game in that way, there are just as many who painstakingly create a version of themselves and try to design their own house in Build Mode.
For players who wants to reflect reality, there should really be a Quarantine Edition, where you have to clatter about in the house for a couple of months, and the highest your mood goes is, like, yellow. Maybe Lockdown Ending could be a holiday, where the celebration tasks include "Get Really Drunk" and "WooHoo with First Person You Meet Outside the Doors of Your Home".
'LOOKING AT APPS'
In a recent (sadly now-deleted) tweet about what she's been getting up to on lockdown, Kim Kardashian listed "looking at apps" as one of her fun quarantine activities. I reference it here only because the turn of phrase captures the total banality of Going On Your Phone (what else are we doing, if not looking at apps?) at a time when everyone is posting their screen time reports in sheer disgust.
Shouldn't we let our beloved Sims in on the "fun"? I know you can add to your Simstagram Story on The Sims 4, but I think the next iteration of the game should go a step further and let you actually post your in-game snapshots, and also add "DM Slide" as a method of flirting. It is important that The Sims keeps up with the real world (and Animal Crossing). That, in practice, means adding "looking at apps".
What if The Sims 5 immediately placed you in a communal living situation in which you only worked to distribute wealth equally among every Sim? What if these Sims then unionised to overthrow their bosses and achieved Level 10 Charisma and Logic not to advance at work, but for the very sake of possessing these qualities, extricated from capitalist ideals of productivity? Just a couple of suggestions, could be cute.
Part of the charm of The Sims is that every character's clothing makes them look like an extra in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, honouring the original Y2K style of the game, but it would be nice if not every pair of women's jeans was low rise. There are of course people making amazing mods for this reason, but it would be cool if the in-game fashion itself was a bit less reminiscent of your dad's wardrobe from the late 90s.
Boring! But important!
TIGER KING EXPANSION PACK
It is of course unfathomably cruel to keep a tiger as a pet of any kind, which is something I knew anyway because I am not a sociopath, but which was also hammered home to me by the recent Netflix docuseries Tiger King. If you could have your own tiger (and mullet?) in The Sims, however, that might be a different story. I'm not saying I endorse it, but… I'm certainly interested.