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06th Feb 2024

Psychoanalyst reveals that playing The Sims can make us healthier and happier

Jody Coffey

The Sims

If you find yourself verging on speaking Simlish fluently, it may not be something to worry yourself about.

Over the Bank Holiday weekend, I found myself with some extra time so I decided to redownload The Sims.

Growing up, this game was my go-to; I would spend hours building the perfect life for my Sims families, only to abandon them once I got bored.

As a fully grown adult, I dove back in as if no time had passed at all, this time with the niggling feeling in the back of my mind that it probably wasn’t the best or most productive way to spend my time off.

With the guilt mounting, I decided to find out if playing the classic life simulation game was having any negative impacts on me, with some relieving results that quickly absolved me of my shame.

According to Steve McKeown, founder of MindFixes and owner of The McKeown Clinic, The Sims actually provides us with healthy escapism.

“Life Simulation games such as The Sims may replace the reality that we know and live in, when internet speeds become fast enough,” Steve told UNILAD.

“The suggestion that we may spend more time in a virtual world than the physical one has been developing speedily over the years and has fast become a way in which we can live an alternative life in exactly the way we want.

“The Sims can allow a person to escape social normality, pressures and chronic stresses that are so prevalent in the real world, it allows the gamer to create a perfect reality in which they play the main character and have full control over the outcome.”

Playing games like The Sims, Steve continues, is a far better alternative to escapism when compared with drugs, alcoholism, and gambling addiction.

He adds that immersing ourselves in our imaginations in these types of games is actually a positive way to escape and gives gamers insight into their personalities.

“Our consciousness is very adaptable and allows us to create an opening to different paradigms of reality every time we focus on alternate versions of life through our thoughts,

“With the assistance of life simulation games such as The Sims we can enhance our inner experience,” Steve concluded, adding that without escapism, we risk burning out.

So, does my sim lead a fuller life with ten times more cash than me? Yes. Will I feel bad about it? Not anymore.

Of course, like everything, gaming should be done in moderation.

This is echoed by game designer Jane McGonigal, who warned that escapism should be done for self-expansion, not self-suppression.

At the Game Developers Conference, she explained that ifyou’re gaming to run away from unhappy thoughts and feelings, this would be described as the latter.

Whereas playing to learn new skills, build new relationships, expand creativity, and increase positive thinking, this is self-expansion.