Electronic Arts is on the brink of launching The Sims 4: a redux of the original game that “promises complex emotions and intuitive interactions to create a better storytelling palette,” according Forbes. The Sims, if you’ve forgotten, is a wildly popular real life simulation game launched in 2000, and it was kind of groundbreaking when it came out, to say the least. You could build your own houses, assign personalities to characters, and essentially build an alternate reality that remained in tact even when you returned to your normal life.
In the spirit of TBT, I wanted to revisit a family that was once very, very famous to a very, very small circle of friends. These guys were the toast of their town, circa 2001. They were known for throwing killer parties, flouting social norms and ignoring all their work commitments. They had groovy wardrobes, haircuts and furniture. Their homes were epic, their hobbies were many. And who were these modern Medicis, these winners-at-life? My Sims Family: the Costerinis of my self-spun “Moravian Heights.”
Since abandoning the family in 2005 (when Electronic Arts released The Sims 2, with its superior graphics), I’ve been remiss with my check-ins. How did I leave them, exactly? What have I forgotten about their static lives? Let’s take a look:
NEVILLE COSTERINI (PATRIARCH)
Neville Costerini was a Taurus, with a penchant for leather suits. For unknown reasons, I styled him as a used car salesman – of course this was before I discovered the “make your Sim a billionaire” cheat, which would eliminate Neville’s need for a job. I engineered him to be medium-neat, not-very-outgoing, not-very-nice, not-very-active and excessively playful (10). The result was a manic creature, who cried whenever he needed to use the bathroom.
Neville and his wife Edwina enjoyed a platonic relationship. They liked to talk about tennis, though Neville would often “ruin the moment” with excessive tickling. This behavior eventually drove Edwina straight into the arms of Walter Hitchens, from across-the-street. My hero’s difficult personality also made him a disaffected and impatient father to his sole heir, Daria Lane—who, likewise, rebelled against her father’s constant violations of her personal space.
Because Neville was such an unbalanced man, he quickly tired of his life in the lap of luxury. These days, he is exactly as I left him: crying outside of a bathroom he’s unable to enter.
(…in a fit of sixth-grade-frustration, I had removed the doors.)
EDWINA CLEOPATRA COSTERINI (MATRIARCH)
Edwina Cleopatra was a chilly woman. I made her in the image of Morticia, from The Addams Family. She liked to look through her telescope and sleep long past her many alarm clocks. Edwina was a Virgo—very neat (10), medium outgoing, medium active, not playful, and not nice. She liked to take long swims in the family pool, read books about cleaning and host salons in her well-decorated living room.
Edwina was also a disinterested mother. She rarely interacted with her daughter, in fact. (That was the thing about the early Sims—there wasn’t much familial love. One was really manipulating strangers in a house—a scenario not unlike MTV’s then-topical The Real World.)
Edwina’s big coup was the whole affair with Walter Hitchens, townie. They made out at a party, she went too far, and he slapped her – the dalliance didn’t last long. Today, I find Edwina in her beloved pool, swimming laps…only it appears that some malevolent sixth grader had removed the ladders from the watering hole moments before.
DARIA LANE COSTERINI
Daria Lane was the cool, young, teenage Costerini. She favored a plaid mini-skirt, implying a punk rock personality. Daria Lane was definitely the best adjusted of her family—her personality was well-rounded, and she liked a variety of things, though pinball and cooking were her passions.
But because she was a teenager with absentee parents, Daria Lane had mood swings—not unlike her creator. Once such a cool cucumber, I find DL now attempting to extinguish a raging kitchen fire after one of her experiments went unsupervised. Her fate hangs in the precipice of a click . . .
THE CREATOR OF MORAVIAN HEIGHTS (ME)
So in light of the grim end of the Costerinis, perhaps you’re wondering: is this gamer kinder to her virtual (and living…) families these days? Is she patient? Does she still cheat at games, and incite marital havoc?
By the time The Sims 2 came to town, I was out of middle school—and having found and solidified my gang of wonderfully dorky comrades, I was finally beginning to grow into my own skin. The second family I ever created was a bunch of good-looking boys in a house, named after all the dudebros my friends and I had crushes on. It was super creepy, sure, but everyone got out alive. In fact, most of my game time was spent in hair and make-up.
These days, I’ve set aside my God complex. The Costerinis are unfortunately trapped forever in their tailspin of doom. But their creator? She’s managed to make some updates.