What we’re obsessed with right now: Sims 4

Lauren J. Mapp’s Simself — Lolo Simile — cooks mac and cheese in the kitchen for lunch.
(Lauren J. Mapp)

San Diego Union-Tribune editors and writers share what they’re currently obsessing over.

What I’m obsessed with: The Sims 4

Why? I was a very introverted high school freshman when the original Sims was released in early 2000. It took the world building aspects that I loved from Sim City and improved upon it by adding character development, interior design, storytelling and relationship navigation. The most recent iteration of the game for PC and Mac users has refined each of those aspects, creating a perfect respite from the confines of feeling isolated due to the ongoing pandemic.

How to play: Many people like to create their “Simself” — a simulated version of themselves — or they’ll sometimes build a whole family to start the game off. While creating a Sim or simulated person, you select their age, hair, eye color, skin tone and size, then dress them in the ideal style for the character. Then it’s time to pick their character traits, which impact their moods, ideal hobbies and activities in-game. Giving them the “freegan” will mean they like dumpster diving to find household items and food, while the “active” trait will mean they like to play sports and will spontaneously do sit-ups.

Once the character is done, it’s time to buy or build their home, starting with a budget of 20,000 Simoleons (plus 2,000 Simoleons for each additional character in the house). There are several pre-built homes that can be selected within this budget or you can download homes from the gallery that other Simmers have built. But my favorite aspect is building houses on my own.

Then it’s time for gameplay to start. You can meet your neighbors when the welcome wagon comes by gifting your Sim fruitcake or select a job track to start making more Simoleons. By visiting one of the public lots, you can make new friends and drink nectar at a bar, exercise at the gym, read books or use computers at the library, or go on vacation. There are so many possibilities of how you can play the game, so it helps if you have a creative imagination.

Best world/expansion pack to add on? The Sims 4 base game comes preloaded with three worlds Willow Creek (modeled after New Orleans), Oasis Springs (a Palm Springsesque desert community) and Newcrest (a totally blank canvas with 15 empty lots). While I love Newcrest because it allows the user to try their hand at being a city planner, creating both private homes and public spaces, my favorite world is Henford-on-Bagley from the Cottage Living expansion pack. This pack added farming elements so your Sims can raise chickens, cows and llamas, and allows them to sell or use chicken eggs, milk and llama wool for knitting. The town is inspired by the English countryside, so as a very wanderlustful person who has been unable to travel internationally for the past two years, I get to travel to England with my Sim instead.

The Sims is available to play on PlayStation and XBox One, as well as on Mac and Microsoft computer systems.