Writing has been a passion of mine for many years. In those years, I’ve discovered ways of finding inspiration for stories and characters, even when writer’s block is very much present. Right now, one of the easiest ways for me to dig up story ideas is to play Sims 4.
First of all, in any given household, you can have up to 8 characters. I’m generally concerned with the interactions of only 2-3 characters at a time, so household management isn’t an issue. (I will admit to having one Sim in the household who is wholly responsible for cooking, cleaning, repairing, and gardening–it makes things so much easier.)
Second, Sims have so many customizations, from their appearances to personality. I tend to have an imagined appearance in my head, and that doesn’t always easily transfer to the Create-a-Sim environment, but it’s good enough. Sometimes, it even prompts a change or new attribute in the character that hadn’t occurred to me previously.
Third, there are so many places to have characters interact. If they live in the same house, there can be conversations over meals, working out together, or hanging out in the hot tub. If they go to a karaoke bar, they can flirt over drinks, or show off their singing skills. Even the bubble blower has inspired me to have characters interact at a hookah bar parking lot. It’s not a 1-to-1 translation, but sometimes these unique details in the game can spark an idea.
At times, I will purposely create new characters that have already been established in my mind or my writing. From there, I add new elements that I’m mulling over, or simply watch things play out naturally. Other times, I’ll play any family and let those events feed into inspiration for a story I haven’t brought to the game. It’s flexible, and it all depends on what I’m focusing on.
Some other Sims 4 players have gone so far as to take screenshots and create stories around them–an idea I love. I don’t take part in this type of storytelling, but it shows that I am definitely not the only one finding stories in the simulation.
You may be wondering–if the Sims can’t actually speak English, how do I create dialogue? Full honesty: dialogue is easiest for me to write. The game itself does help, though, with the thought bubbles above the Sims, as well as the conversation options. If it’s two bro-type characters, I’m going to bring up sports and fitness techniques. If it’s two characters I want to be together, there’s probably flirting and exchanging numbers. With those general ideas available, I can create the spoken (or unspoken) words between the characters.
Another helpful aspect is watching well-established characters go about their lives. A few times now I’ve assumed my written scene was perfect, but once I witnessed an interaction or scene in Sims, I felt the need to change things. Sometimes the game gives you huge ideas, and sometimes it helps you make tiny tweaks.
Sims 4 can be an overflowing source of inspiration for all writers. Start with the basics, your characters and the overarching story, and create from there. Whether you use it for writing, editing, brainstorming, or just wreaking havoc on characters you don’t like, use it as a tool and watch the words you write come alive.