I’ve been playing The Sims 4 far too much the past few weeks. Aside from trying to give myself the life my real existence can’t, I find developer Maxis’ take on socialization fascinating.
Socialization in The Sims 4 follows all of the most basic rules we adhere to and understand in real life. It’s nothing ground-breaking outside of how self-aware it is. We all know the only way to build relationships (be it familial, friendship, or romantic) is through an escalation of un-layering and peeling away at who we are until more of what we are within is revealed.
That’s an unnecessarily deep sentence meant to say this: we can’t build relationships without opening up. But this isn’t something we consciously do or think over.
And in the case of a budding romance, sometimes we don’t do it at all.
I won’t speak for the women because, frankly, how can I? But for the guys, here’s the biggest lesson The Sims 4 teaches on romance: we have to shoot our shot.
The potential for romance in The Sims doesn’t even begin unless a character flirts. Players have to send some signals that they are interested in a person. And no, just “feeling flirty” doesn’t count. All the playfulness and giggly talk in the world doesn’t mean shit or have substance until we make our intentions known.
Thinking friendship will somehow roll into the person we like falling for us is a move straight out of the Nice Guy™ and toxic incel playbook. “I’ve been hanging out with her for weeks and having great dialogue.” That’s awesome dude, she sounds like a great friend. She’s not locking lips with you for that.
I mean, scratch that–she could. I shouldn’t suggest it’s entirely impossible. But the odds are incredibly low to levels not worth gambling on. Like, sure, an NBA player could get fouled on the basketball court and get free throws due to the other team being over the limit (I think that’s how it works). But Christ, that is such a low-odds scenario.
SHOOT YOUR SHOT! We improve our chances at dating and romance so much more, and that’s the point The Sims 4 tries to engrain into its players.
For anyone wondering when is the best time to flirt, The Sims says any time is a good time. But if we want to increase the chances of our flirting work, we might want to at least start by saying “hello,” talking a bit, placing some actual dialogue behind the romantic interaction.
I can approach a girl at the MARTA station and compliment her appearance. But to decrease the chances of her rebuffing me, it’d help to learn a bit about her and insert the flirting somewhere within the conversation.
It’s common sense thinking on how social interactions work. It isn’t rocket science, yet we struggle to follow these guidelines as if it is. I don’t mind being real about this: my sim (who’s traits and character is based on mine, including being a loner but with a wardrobe not from Wal-Mart) has had more success in dating and sex in close to two months of sims life than I have in my little over a decade of being an adult.
That shit has got me salty. But maybe instead of trying to live my life vicariously through a game, I can learn something from it.