- The author enjoys playing The Sims 4 and sometimes creates Sims of people they’re mad at to do bad things to them, without feeling guilty.
- The new Sims 4 expansion allows players to become landlords, which the author finds unsettling due to their own experiences and the current housing crisis.
- The author acknowledges that having landlords in the game is just a storytelling tool but feels uncomfortable with the realistic nature of it, as they have seen the struggles of renters in real life.
Like many The Sims 4 players, I love to do unspeakably horrible things to the little characters I control. I’ve been playing since the first Sims came out, and in every game, I have attempted to create versions of myself and everybody close to me as accurately as possible. I have made countless versions of my family, most of my longtime friends, some of my crushes, and even my exes.
My toxic trait is that I sometimes make Sims of people I’m mad at and do bad things to them. I’ll drown a virtual replica who said something mean to me, and I won’t apologise for it. Yes, I’m already in therapy.
I won’t deny that this is a mildly unhinged thing to do, but in my defense, lots of people do this in The Sims. People quite literally set Sims on fire for fun, which I’ve only ever done a few times over the last decade. I’m quite well-adjusted in comparison. Sims players love an opportunity to be evil, as do I, but the latest Sims 4 expansion even gave me pause.
Maxis recently released a new gameplay trailer for the Sims 4: For Rent expansion, and it made me shudder. In this expansion, you can make your Sim one of the worst kind of people: a landlord. Ew. Your Sims can also be tenants, of course. For Rent will have you fixing utilities, partitioning your properties to extract maximum value from your poor tenants, managing multiple properties to get extremely rich off doing very little… you know, landlord stuff. In the new city of Tomarang, a world inspired by my own home region of Southeast Asia, players can build rental properties that either unite their communities or drive them apart.
The Sims players are, overall, happy about the expansion, and I see why. You can finally put family members on the same lot without needing them to be in the same household, which is something that the community has wanted for a while now. You could make something akin to a hotel or a sorority, which could make for some interesting storytelling. However, I’m stuck on the specifics of the behaviour you can induce in your Sims, because I find them especially terrifying.
This Hits Too Close To Home, Pun Intended
It’s not fun being a renter in this economy. I’m lucky enough to not rent (by which I mean I live with my parents while I save up for a house – at my big age!) but I’ve seen my friends get evicted unceremoniously, get into fights with their roommates, and move multiple times in a year due to fickle landlords breaking agreements. In The Sims 4, you can now put your Sims through those extraordinarily stressful and traumatic experiences, giving tenants fears of eviction if they ‘misbehave’ in any way! And we all know that landlords are always reasonable about what counts as misbehaviour. You can also threaten to evict tenants, post rent demands for past-due payments, and straight-up steal your tenants’ stuff if they don’t pay rent on time.
I get it – it’s just a storytelling tool, having landlords in your game doesn’t automatically make you a bad person, blah blah blah. But damn, does it hit different! Most things in The Sims are silly enough that they don’t seem so cruel. For example, I’m never expecting to die from fright at seeing a ghost, or get struck by lightning, or get so mad I drop dead, or be crushed by a vending machine. I am, however, constantly seeing people in housing insecure situations because landlords love money more than they love people having the right to safe shelter for affordable prices. I don’t begrudge anybody who chooses to buy this expansion, but I won’t be. I have very little interest in terrorising my Sims in a way this realistic.
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