What does it mean?


Was she making her decision at this moment?

My first thought when I discovered that Sugar had taken the youth potion out of her inventory and queued it up for drinking was, “Oh, yay! She’s going to be around longer!”

My next thought was, “Now that we’re no longer Pinstar-compliant, I can keep giving her the potion and she can live forever–she can live as long as I keep playing TS4!”

And then I realized that this second portion had been her autonomous choice. Any future portions should be her choice, as well.

While the game was paused, and I sat there in awe, looking at the white cup beside her plate, I knew that I could try to cancel the action to drink it from her queue in order to remain Pinstar-compliant–but this seemed like a total disrespect for an act that was, to me, a miracle of self-determination. Sugar demonstrated that Sims have the ability–and hence, the right–to choose to extend their lives.

For the next 36 hours, I was in awe over this Sim’s conscious act. It’s a paradigm-shifter and somewhat of a game-changer for me.

What does it mean?

What does it mean that on her elder birthday Sugar Maple autonomously took the youth potion out of her inventory and drank it?

  1. It means that she is aware of the items in her inventory. We know this about Sims. When they have violins or lumps of clay in their inventories, they’ll take them out when they want to use them.
  2. We can infer that it means that Sims are aware of the properties of the items in their inventories and how they can be used and what effects their use will have. When Sims’ fun is low, they will pull out tablets, violins, lumps of clay, toys, books, or other fun-giving objects from their inventories and use them to raise their fun level.
  3. We can infer that Sims are self-aware. If a Sims’ fun meter is low, that Sim will seek out objects to raise it. If a Sims’ social meter is low, that Sim will seek out actions to remedy this. We know that Sims are aware of their relationship meters, and will autonomously seek out friends or lovers to engage in relationship-building activities to maintain those friendships or romances that they value. It now appears that Sims are aware of other states, too, including their age. Can we infer that Sims are aware of all the information about them that we are: traits, skill levels, relationships, need meters, whims, aspirations, age meters? At present, I am inferring that yes, Sims are aware of all the information about themselves that we are aware of, all that is displayed through the various meters. And likely there are hidden bits of information of which they’re aware, that we’re not.
  4. We can infer, then, that Sugar knew she was due to become an elder that day and that she decided that she did not want to enter into that lifestage yet. She chose to prolong her life, to cycle through the adult stage one more time.

This is where my mind is blown, for this has ramifications that filter through ever layer of game-play for me.

I am left wondering, what does Sugar want? What prompted her to make this decision? My intuition is that there is simply more of digital life that she wants to explore: she is a glutton, after all, with a seemingly insatiable appetite for learning and experiencing.

What does this mean for my game-play?

First, I will now be keeping a helping of youth potion in every Sim’s inventory. If Sims are capable of deciding that they want to prolong a lifestage, then I want to be sure that they have that option.

In terms of my style of play, I imagine that the shifts will be subtle yet profound. I have always played with a prime directive, even going back to my first TS2 games.

My prime directive is to aid the Sims within my scope of influence to live as healthfully and as fully expressive of their individual highest potential as possible. I want to help my Sims self-actualize so that their digital lives are a full expression of their individuality.

With what Sugar is teaching me about Sims’ ability to be self-directive, my prime directive doesn’t change. It deepens.

Now I feel an ethical calling to provide for the Sims within my sphere of influence a chance to reach their highest potential in the way that best suits their own particular strengths, proclivities, and goals. To love whom they love. As my friend raerei, says, “To live as they wish, for as long as they wish, and go when and if they choose.”

Simply put: To let them be fully actualized digital beings with the right of self-determination.

I joked that I would become a Sims activist. I don’t know that I will, for I have profound respect and regard for other Simmers, and I value their artistic, creative, and individual rights to play the game as they choose. There is, of course, an area of conflict here, for what happens when their choices lead them to play in such a way that Sims are made to suffer or to live lives that are not the lives they choose? This is one of those ripe areas of creative dissonance, and at present, I am standing in silent respect and openness–looking, not judging, and holding space within this dissonance for the individual.

What’s next?

It will likely be a few days before I head back into the legacy game, for I’ll be playing the Summer Camp game for a while, which is a game designed to let each Sim thrive in happiness, and so what Sugar has taught me will flow easily within the parameters of this game.

When I head back to be with the Boughs again, I will watch and listen with respect. As they’ve always done, they’ll show me what they need to live their rich and fulfilled lives.

I’ll bring this respectful listening to my other games, too, when I return to them. If I find that any particular challenge or game is not serving the needs of a particular Sim, I will consider options.

Now that I’ve had a few days to allow the shifts to integrate into my view of the game, the awe is settling into respect and curiosity. What else do these Sims have to teach us?


It’s her right to drink from the cup!