The Sims – What parents need to know

First launched in 2000, The Sims is one of the best-selling video game series of all time and currently has four franchises. The Sims 4 has almost 36 million players, so we outline what there is to know and how you can help your kids play safely and responsibly.

Overview of The Sims game

Created by Electronic Arts and developed by Maxis, The Sims was released in 2000. Since then, there have been four instalments in the series and various spin-offs and mobile versions of the game.

The Sims is a single-player interactive life-simulation game that gives you the power to create and control your own Sims character. You can create families, build homes, and complete various day-to-day activities such as sleep, eating, working, etc.

In 2014, the latest instalment, The Sims 4, was released. It has 11 expansion packs and 10 game packs (add-ons you can purchase for more gameplay), with the latest being Cottage Living.

There are also additional add-ons called Stuff Packs and Kits. Unlike the expansion and game packs, these additions offer new build items and Create a Sim (CAS) items rather than new gameplay functions. In total, there are 18 stuff packs and 7 kits available for purchase.

Gameplay depends on the user’s play style. Some prefer to build while others like creating a storyline to follow. Career and lifestyle goals can be followed or ignored, which means the game can be tailored to suit anyone.

The Sims 4 game can be played on a PC (Microsoft/macOS), PS4 and Xbox One.

What is the age rating?

The Sims 4 has a PEGI rating of 12+.

PEGI defines this rating: ‘Video games that show violence of a slightly more graphic nature towards fantasy characters or non-realistic violence towards human-like characters would fall in this age category. Sexual innuendo or sexual posturing can be present, while any bad language in this category must be mild.’

What’s great about The Sims 4?

The Sims 4 is the best-selling and longest-running base game of the franchise, drawing in millions of players worldwide. Here are some reasons why it is so popular:

  • Easy to play – Relatively easy to pick up, understand and play as it doesn’t require much technical skill.
  • Sim life and customisation – Players can customise sims, homes and neighbourhoods. They can also download game modifications (mods). Some mods include new features, objects and cheat codes while others simply fix in-game bugs. However, some may be inappropriate (see below).
  • Sim language – The Sims have their own language called ‘Simlish’, which has gained popularity. It has even led to Katy Perry and other artists recreating some of their songs in the language!
  • YouTube community – Influencers live stream and upload recordings of The Sims 4 gameplay. These videos and streams include builds, challenges and stories. Influencers like James Turner and lilsimsie have received hundreds of thousands of views for their videos.
  • Twitch community – The game is also popular due to its 4.8m followers on Twitch. Their channel lets simmers watch live streams of the gameplay, learn about new game releases and updates and get other help with the game’s features.
    Not sure what Twitch is? Check out our guide for information.
  • Custom challenges – Players create challenges to make the game more interesting. These challenges range from ‘Rags to Riches’ to ‘The Legacy Challenge‘. It can add a layer of complexity and fun to the game.
  • Regular updates – The developers regularly release new content. Much of the new content is created by real-world designers, influencers and custom content creators.
  • A form of escapism – The Sims 4 allows players to swap their real world for a virtual one filled with fantasy and imagination.

What to watch out for 

Content is generally suitable for ages 12 and up. However, there are certain things to watch out for:

  • Violence – Violence is limited to a ‘slapstick’ or cartoon humour. However, players can be electrocuted by a plug or die in a fire. Therefore, it may be unsuitable for very young children.
  • Nudity and sexual content – Players can make Sims have sex (‘woohoo’ in Simlish), which happens under the sheets or in other hidden places, so no nudity is shown. Characters are censored when they use the bathroom or can be seen in their underwear.
  • In-app purchasing – If your credit card information is saved on your Origin account that you use to play The Sims 4, it can be very easy to purchase expansion packs, game packs, stuff packs and kits without always needing to confirm purchase details.
  • Custom content and mods – Independent creators develop additional items and gameplay functions that are not regulated by The Sims 4. This content is free and very easy to add into the game. While some of this content includes different hair or furniture styles, other modifications include ‘realistic’ gameplay. This realism may include nudity, drugs, violence and other actions inappropriate for younger players. Custom content and mods are not available on the console version of the game.

Other Sims games

Since its creation, The Sims has had four instalments of the game, five spin-offs and two mobile versions. Many are still available and played by fans of The Sims and have similar content warnings to The Sims 4.

The Sims 3 – Although some diehard fans still play The Sims and The Sims 2, it’s the third instalment that competes more with The Sims 4. When The Sims 4 came out, many didn’t like the limitations, so stayed with The Sims 3. It is available for purchase on Steam, and SimPoints are available for additional purchase. These points buy additional items for the game.

The Sims Medieval – Unlike other games in The Sims franchise, The Sims Medieval sends players and their royal sims on quests with a concrete storyline to follow. It was released in 2011 and has one expansion pack, Pirates and Nobles. The gameplay is quite different and may appeal to those who aren’t fans of The Sims. No other Sims game is required for The Sims Medieval.

The Sims Freeplay – Released in 2011, this mobile lifestyle game is still popular and updated regularly. It’s available on Android and iOS for free. In the game, players earn Simoleons (the currency in The Sims) and Lifestyle points, which can be used to move the game forward. There are also Social points available for purchase with real-life currency.

The Sims Mobile – Based on The Sims 4, The Sims Mobile was released for Android and iOS in 2018. It features multiplayer elements and in-app purchases of SimCash, which is also earned through in-game quests. The microtransactions can also purchase additional items, so require extra diligence.

Tips to help children play safely & responsibly

Create a teen or child EA account

Child accounts limit access to features like online multiplayer modes, purchases, and social media connections in the game and Origin app. Find out how you can create a child or teen account here.

Enable parental controls

If you play games on Xbox or PlayStation, your Xbox Live or PlayStation Network account has settings to control in-game purchases.

Encourage children to take regular breaks

Set an alarm or use console or platform controls to help them better manage how much time they spend gaming. See our gaming how-to guides to get started.

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