If you know me you know that I am absolutely, positively obsessed with Sims4. My propensity for this game knows no bounds to the point where I have seriously considered getting a plumbob tattoo much to my friends’ dismay. I will often post my builds to my social media pages and have joined several groups on Discord, Reddit and Facebook to keep abreast of the latest Sims4 news. Though it may not be professional when people at work ask what I do for fun I have no problem pulling up photos of my builds and explaining in detail what I did. And while I have always enjoyed gaming (Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy, Grand Theft Auto, Yoshi’s Island) no game has come close to capturing my attention like Sims4.
Addiction at First Play
I vividly remember one of my best friends had just purchased MySims back in 2007 for her Nintendo DS. She let me play it one day after school and I was hooked. I loved the role-playing aspect of the game and that I could fully customize my character and my digital life. I am a huge fan of customizing my spaces and experiences from my phone (team Android) to my workspace to my home. I find nothing more restricting and creatively detrimental than cookie cutter, run of the mill things. And while options may overwhelm some users, knowing that I have endless possibilities at my fingertips ignites something within me that sparks my creativity and curiosity. It is almost like a childlike wonder. I want to play around and figure things out. What works? What doesn’t work? How far can I push the boundaries? Can you tell that I am a creative professional?
We Meet Again
Although I loved gaming, consoles are expensive as the artsy child I reserved my allotted gift requests and begging for items to art supplies and musical items such as a first generation iPod and a guitar which I swore up and down that, I would master but was done with after about a month. My brothers, on the other hand, used their requests for games, which did not include anything Sims related so that was the end of that for me. That is until I was on my own in college and discovered Sims Free Play not to be confused with the latest Sims Mobile.
I was an adult! I no longer had to ask my parents for everything I needed, I worked several jobs and could afford to treat myself every once in a while and I had a smartphone and laptop. So when I saw that you could play Sims for free across devices if you connected it through your Facebook account my heart skipped a beat. I immediately signed up and began playing. Hours of my day would be spent playing this game because as I said before I am addicted. I also quickly found out that even though it was technically free it was way more fun if you actually paid for stuff. And what did I do as a responsible college student? Proceed to spend my money...hundreds of dollars over the years on this free game. It was slow at first but those $4.99 purchases add up! The game also used most of the processing power on my phone, turning it into a slow hunk of glass and metal that could sometimes make phone calls. And although I will never get those hours and my money back I don’t have any regrets at that was time well spent!
The Gift that Keeps on Giving
I’m not sure how but I eventually stopped playing Sims Freeplay. I graduated, moved across the country and started my life as an adult. In addition to my day job I also do freelance graphic design work (check out my website). My husband was tired of seeing me struggle with my almost decade old refurbished laptop and decided to build me a kick-ass computer from scratch. And he didn’t stop there. He purchased and preinstalled Sims4 as a surprise for me. Now, I want to believe that this was done purely out of his love for me but something tells me he did this so I could have my own game to play while he played his. This way I wouldn’t get mad that he was using the TV for hours on end. It was this version of Sims that really kicked my creativity into gear.
Creating a Virtual World that Reflected my Reality: Where’s my hair?!
I started out with the Sims4 base game and the Get to Work expansion pack and loved it. I slowly purchased all of the additional expansion, game, and stuff packs and learned when to look out for sales and bundles. One thing that bothered me through all the content I purchased was that no matter how much DLC I bought I could never make a sim that actually looked like me. With my kinky hair and caramel brown skin tone, I could not find any existing content in the game that looked realistic. The kinky, afro-textured hairs that were available were reserved to 3 afros, some puffs and locs that looked like thick noodles. The skin tones were, in my humble opinion, ashy af.
Finding my Community: The Black Simmer
One day while browsing Facebook I came across the group, The Black Simmer. This group was a Godsend! It was here that I learned about the world of custom content more formally known as CC and black sim creators. You can find CC for anything, literally. Some of my favorites include Xiamara’s Melanin Pack which includes 54 realistic skins tones, Ebonix who makes beautiful hairstyles including goddess braids with hair accessories, Pixelheaux who creates clutter and decor to make your game feel more realistic and of course a fellow Virgin Islands simmer, SkillfulSimmer340 who creates custom personality traits. And while this group does focus on CC for the black community through it I also discovered other CC makers. I love the look of Maxis Match CC (CC that matches the cartoony art style of Sims4) over Alpha CC (CC that looks hyper-realistic). This led me to discover my absolute favorite Maxis Match creators PeaceMaker who specializes in furniture, decor and male clothing/hair and Nolan Sims who specializes in clothing, hair, and accessories. To date, I probably have well over 6,000 individual CC items installed in my game, including script mods that can allow you to alter the actual gameplay such as food delivery and relationship settings. Discovering CC opened my world up to endless customization. I hope to one day learn to create my own CC.
*Please note that using CC may affect your game. Use at your own risk!
Creating for my Most Important Client; Me
Sims4 serves as an outlet for me and while you may be thinking, aren’t you a creative? Don’t you always have an outlet? The answer is no. Because I create for a living I am constantly creating to fulfill a client’s needs and making other people’s visions come to life. This is rewarding of course but not in the same way creating something for yourself is. When I play the Sims I have an unlimited budget and don’t have to worry about if clients will like my work or not. I can build and rebuild and start over as many times as I want to, constantly improving on my designs and stories.
Below are some shots from my gameplay.
Playing this game has given me yet another space in which I can push the boundaries of my creativity and what I thought was possible. I can look back on my earlier saves and see how I have progressed throughout the years. It inspires me to create more. I see how when others were faced with not having hair or skin tone or items that reflected their lives instead of on waiting on EA they learned how to create it themselves. What is more empowering than that?