The Sims is a series of award-winning games that let you control simulated people, each with their own needs, desires, relationships and futures. Some players choose to build elaborate houses, giving their characters a dream home and letting them roam free to do as they pleased.
I, on the other hand, played The Sims very efficiently. I built rooms only as large as they needed to be, with items strategically placed to minimize the space they took up and the time to travel between them. I did not decorate the interior of the house, because pretty scenery really only mattered when they left the house to go to work, and indoor decorations would not help that. I did not buy a full-length mirror because a square hanging mirror served the same purpose at a fraction of the cost while not taking up any space.
I built bachelor houses that were essentially very large cubicles, with no extra money spent on walls for the bathroom because no one would ever see him and it would never be an issue. I did not buy a lounge chair or sofa because it would not double as an eating chair, and which I would then have to purchase separately. The house had one chair. It was the chair in which my Sim ate, watched television and learned skills from. I spent money making it extremely comfortable, because that chair and the bed were the only sources of rest I provided my Sim. When he needed comfort, I did not let him simply sit down, I would top off his fun need by also making him watch TV. If he was already at full fun, I would discontinue TV watching and make him read a book to learn a skill.
But hermit Sims have stunted job progression because later promotions require you to befriend your neighbors. To accomplish this, I had a systematic way of rapidly maximizing a relationship level. I did not bother with most of the interaction options like backrubs and pranks, I did what I needed to do in order to get where I wanted to be, and then I sent them along their way.
I would talk to them until our relationship level rose a bit and then mixed in jokes, all the way until when a hug became the best option to increase relationship points. I chose these because they were efficient and reliable, but also because they raised fun points as well.
Talking, joking, and hugging were fun. With just those three, my Sim no longer felt the desire to watch TV. As long as he could keep talking, he never wanted to read a book, or play games on his computer. To keep the game understandable and not needlessly complex, the developers generalized a Sim’s need for recreation into a single quantity that rose whenever something that could be construed as fun was accomplished.
It doesn’t work that way in real life, sadly. Given constant exposure to something, we grow tired of it, and we are not as affected by it. Conversely and notably, the absence of something can make us profoundly affected by its reappearance.
For the past year I have been in the presence of amazing friends and socialization. I love being with them and have made shockingly large changes to my plans for next year in order to keep being with them, but they are not everything that I am. They don’t do everything that I like to do. And so sometimes, as much as I want to spend every moment with them, I also want to spend moments relishing the comforts that I enjoyed so dearly before I met them.
Yet even with the best of both worlds at my fingertips, each having done nothing to dilute each other, I can’t have everything I want. I am always missing something, missing someone, neglecting someone.
But given the choice to be everywhere and do everything with everyone, would I take it? Would it only make me tire of everything faster? Maybe it would. But at least I would never have to apologize.