From ‘The Sims’ to ‘Animal Crossing’: How life simulation games provide an escape from reality


Do you remember those times in your childhood when you couldn’t wait to be an adult? You dreamed of being independent, staying up as late as you wanted, and eating all those snacks your parents wouldn’t buy you. But then you came of age and realized how much stressful all is. Mortgages, bills, rent, a job: the list is endless. It all adds up and, as we all know, sometimes it can be a bit too much.

But what if I told you there was a way to be an adult and relax at the same time? Welcome to the pixelated world of life simulation, the kind of video game that lets you live your best life in cyberspace.

What is a life simulator?

Life simulations (or life sims) are a genre of video games that replicate everyday activities performed in real life. Whether it’s buying a house, raising a family, tending to a farm, or going fishing, these games aim to offer all the different aspects of life, but make it a relaxing live. One of the best and most well-known examples is The Simsa now extensive series of life simulation games published by electronic arts (EA) where the player creates a character called Sim and takes care of them, finds them jobs, builds and furnishes their house, and even helps them start a family.

All those seemingly mundane life chores that we longed for so much in real life are magically transformed into chores we can’t get enough of. But what makes them so fun? Let’s take a look, shall we?

Live your best life

On the surface, life simulations seem rather boring. But don’t be put off, there’s more than meets the eye. Each activity is designed to make even the most tedious tasks enjoyable. A perfect example is the fishing mechanic of nintendoit is Animal Crossing: New Horizons. You just need to cast your line in a body of water, wait for one of the grayling fish to take a nibble, then reel it in. Such a simple way to present the idea but gives unlimited satisfaction. Coupled with the pun-heavy banter about every fish you trawl and the prospect of being able to add your catch to the game’s aquarium, it turns the time-consuming and mostly boring pastime of fishing into a delightful and exciting, all without your real self without having to leave the comfort of your home. Or get wet. Now that’s what I call win in life.

But that’s not all living sims have to offer. Many games allow you to have a stable and even work to buy a housesomething that many young people find extremely difficult these days. The Sims encourages you to find your Sim a job so they can meet their expenses. This is done effortlessly by simply sending your character to work where their performance is based on their attributes, which you can level up as you progress through the game.

Meanwhile, animal crossing allows you to buy a house from the start, although this means you will be in the biggest commercial debt in the village, Tom Nook. Unlike banks in the real world, however, Nook lets you pay off your loan whenever you can, meaning no stressful final reminders hitting your mat anytime soon.

All of these elements culminate in one thing: escape. But how exactly do life simulations help us escape the real world?

Let’s go deeper for a second

The problem with the real world is that everything you do has consequences. If you don’t show up for work, you’re fired. If you don’t pay your rent, you lose your house. With life simulations (and all video games, in general), the consequences of your actions can be altered. All you have to do is reset the game and try again. This makes life simulations the perfect way to take a break from the pressures of the real world.

In February 2022, UK property prices have risen to 10.9%, compared to 10.2% in January 2022. This increase means that nearly a third of 24 to 30 year olds in the countryside still live with their parents or have had to move because they could not afford to live on their own. Almost all life simulation games give you or allow you to buy a house that you can maintain, live in and decorate as you wish. With the state of the housing market right now, this is the only way for many people to have a space of their own.

But it’s not just owning virtual real estate that makes these games so appealing. It is also a way to relax mentally. ConcernedApe and funny fishit is Stardew Valley took the world by storm when it was released in 2016 and has since sold over 20 million copies across all platforms. The fantasy farming simulator sees you settling into your late grandfather’s farm after getting tired of your soul-destroying office job. Once again, the game gives you your own home. but this time you also have a farm to maintain. As you spend your day growing crops, befriending locals, and exploring your surroundings, you’ll begin to realize there’s a certain serenity to the freedom the game gives you. . You could spend your day working on your farm or heading to the beach to fish. After a hard day’s work, you can walk to the local tavern and share a drink with the locals. Or not, it’s really up to you.

It is this freedom and this slowness that attract people and allow them to live almost a double life. A world free of taxes and jobs and the general gloom of the world we currently reside in. Stardew Valley, none of that matters. The mental release felt after spending a few hours in the game is immense, as the blogger Kira Leigh discovered when meet face to face with one of the romantic characters, Sebastian. “I was looking in a mirror,” she admitted.

Continuing the journey of Sebastian’s character and discovering how he suffered from the same things as her, it helped her reflect on her own life. “WWhen he opened up to me, I also received a gift. The rare gift of being able to observe one’s life from the outside […] I had to think about the situation of this character. And it made me think about mine too,” she wrote.

The moments of quiet reflection that these games allow you to have may be more powerful than we realize. Sometimes all you need is a few hours of peace tending to your carrots or chatting with the pixelated locals to figure out what’s going on in your real life.

Top 3 Life Simulations to Help You Unwind and Relax

If this article has opened your eyes to the fact that you need some rest and relaxation in your own life, check out one of these delightful games. You never know, this might be exactly what you’re looking for:

1. “The Sims” by EA

As one of the most well-known and popular life simulation games, The Sims essentially lets you play god while you create your own character and then build their life however you see fit. Want them to go to college and become academics? No problem. How about joining a rock band and rocking out in the garage? The Sims has what you need. There are also countless add-on packs to choose from, giving you the ultimate authority to customize your own experience the way you like it.

2. “Stardew Valley” by ConcernedApe

Now onto an indie staple, Stardew Valley is all about living in the slow lane. Farm, fish, mine, and craft as you explore and discover the different shops, people, and surroundings this beautiful pixel art game has to offer. Make connections with the locals, attend town events, and even marry your favorite characters (if you spend enough time with them, of course). There is no end to the peace this game will bring you.

3. Nintendo’s “Animal Crossing: New Horizons”

Released at the very start of the first COVID-19 lockdown, this game was a staple in virtually every home. After receiving an invitation to a desert island getaway, you arrive and begin your new life there. Starting with a meager tent, you quickly learn the customs of the island, craft items and equipment to make your stay more comfortable, and welcome adorable animal villagers such as Joey the duck and fang the wolf like friendly neighbors. The game doesn’t really have an end, so you can explore, relax, and sculpt your new home as much as you want. Featuring a wonderful multiplayer system, the game also allows you to invite other local or worldwide players to visit your island and enjoy the tranquility together.


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