“All they do is eat and shit!” How many times do I have to kill this game before it dies? That’s what a senior executive at video company EA Games apparently broke in the late ’90s, according to art director Charles London, after yet another disappointing display of The Sims.
Others were equally skeptical. New ideas are often met with resistance and The Sims was no different. While the city building video game SimCity had been hugely popular throughout the ’90s, many gaming traditionalists just couldn’t fathom the appeal of its people-focused spinoffs. Why on earth would anyone want to build a fake house, create fake people and then just… watch them live and die?
During a long and often arduous development process, the game met with many skeptics, but the small, quirky and dedicated Maxis team, led by founder and lead designer Will Wright, grasped the endlessly open potential of their latest creation. . It was weird, yes, but people like the weird, and they especially like to imagine imaginary lives.
That said, even the game’s greatest defenders still couldn’t have imagined the extraordinary level of success The Sims would continue to have. Awash in accolades and success, it became one of the best-selling and most influential games of all time. It also broke new ground by reaching a majority audience of young women, very different from traditional video game demographics.
The series, which now includes four episodes and countless expansion packs, has moved over 200 million units and left a significant cultural footprint. Several of the world’s biggest pop stars, from Ariana Grande to Jason Derulo, have even recorded songs in simlish, the game’s scrambled language.