My brain is so poisoned by video games, that while I was recently moving my furniture into my new apartment all I could think about was The Sims.
My move, from one New York City apartment to another, was expensive and complicated ordeal. I’m so, so close to finally being finished with it. I’ve got my keys, a place to sleep, a couch in the living room and almost everything I need to cook. Unfortunately, I still have to figure out why we don’t have gas, I’m trying to get us Internet that isn’t the dreaded Spectrum, and we don’t have any pots and pans. I’ve started to put together and arrange my bedroom, though I need a dresser first to put away my clothes, and a bookshelf for all my books.
As I measure the remaining space in my room and continue to unpack, I can’t help but think of it as a game. It’s a little bit like Tetris, where I must fit blocks of furniture into a small apartment. Sometimes it feels like Dwarf Fortress, where I’m constantly juggling new tasks to accomplish in order to not lose my mind. Mostly, though, it’s like The Sims.
In The Sims 4, decor has an effect on Sims’ moods. They get a boost to their mood if they’re in a well decorated apartment. If they sleep on a cheap bed, they wake up sore. Having access to tea and coffee can change their mood or keep them awake. And as I’ve learned from watching Sims YouTubers, if there’s ever any empty space in an apartment, you should fill it with plants. That’s why I’ve covered my windowsill with plants:
The Sims was also on my mind as I placed my furniture. Originally, I had my desk facing the wall, but then I realized that I wanted to be able to look out the window. In The Sims, that’d be a pathing nightmare, so I was leery of doing it and had the reflex to lay my apartment out like it was in the game. The allure of a window view was too strong, though, and I’m better at pathfinding than a Sim, so I turned my desk to face the window. I could make this work.
What The Sims mostly taught me was that there’s a real benefit in making your personal space pleasant. Your Sims don’t always need the most expensive thing, but a slightly more expensive couch and upgrading to a flatscreen TV can make it easier for them to relax. I used to think of the mood boost that Sims got in the game was just a mechanic to give you an impetus to continue to buy them more things. As I get older, I also discovered that I’m just happier in a place that looks nice and feels nice, that has my art on the walls and is arranged in a way that feels cozy.
I used to be a lot more utilitarian about my furniture than I am now. I had stuff that wasn’t fancy, but was functional. Back in Chicago, I had a couch, but it was missing its back cushion, so I threw a body pillow on there so it’d be comfortable. I had a bed from Ikea that I’d been carting around from apartment to apartment for years. The rest of my apartment was furnished from Craigslist, and while everything was kinda sticky, it worked. I was also the most depressed I had been since my teenage years. I was surrounded by my own garbage because I felt like garbage and everything I owned was garbage.
Now when I look at my mint green desk, I feel happiness at the prospect of working at it. My bed—made of solid wood and not particle board—offers a pleasant reprieve from the rest of the world. My side table is actually a vintage military war table, that was a gift from a friend. Not only is it a very cool thing to own, I think about my wonderful, generous friend every time I look at it (love you, Max!). Just being in this room surrounded by things I actually like and aren’t from a Swedish furniture company makes a real difference in my mood.
I know my Sims are just lines of code, but I wonder if that’s how they feel when I meticulous decorate their rooms, giving them high quality furniture and a mountain of plants. I hope it makes their brief lives a little easier, especially if they’re unlucky enough to get caught in a save where I’m doing the 100 Baby Challenge.