A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Sims 4 is a life simulation game for Windows PCs. Players create and manage virtual people, guiding them in their day-to-day lives. Players will see Sims socializing, relieving themselves in the bathroom, showering (without nudity), going on dates, having families, exercising, enjoying hobbies, and embarking on careers. Players guide the development and behaviors of their Sims and can make them loving, caring, and reliable or cheating, selfish, and aggressive. Sims can get into fights and even die from events such as fire or starvation, but this is rare. Many Sims will engage in flirtation, romance, and even sex, though the act itself is never shown. Whether Sims end up being good or bad is entirely up to the player. Consumer themes run throughout the experience, with players encouraged to earn money and spend it on a variety of products, from food to home renovations. Note, too, that lots of expansions and add-on packs encourage players to spend real-world money to enhance their experience.
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What's it about?
Much like its predecessors, THE SIMS 4 s concerned with providing an accurate simulation of modern human life. It allows players to create individual virtual people -- even an entire family -- and then go about managing virtually every aspect of their lives, from their hygiene and happiness to grander objectives such as career and family growth. Players have nearly complete control over each of their Sims' lives and can determine specific activities from minute to minute, all while striving to meet goals both short-term (going on a date or exercising) and long-term (getting married or promoted at work). New in this edition is multitasking, which means Sims can accomplish more in less time by, say, socializing while eating or playing a game while going to the bathroom. Players now also can easily share their custom-made Sims and homes with other players online and choose from a wide variety of Sims and households created by other users. A variety of expansion packs (purchased separately) add new areas to explore and themed activities and features revolving around pet ownership, socializing, careers, urban living, and enjoying the holidays. Less expensive add-ons include "stuff packs," which introduce new items and products that players can use to enhance their Sims' homes, family lives, and capability to entertain guests in different ways.
Is it any good?
This life simulation is like its predecessor, but with better presentation, a more streamlined interface, and tweaks to social interactions, life goals, and activities. Multitasking in The Sims 4 feels like the biggest change, if only because it means Sims can accomplish more in less time. This makes things a bit easier and allows players to micromanage less than in previous games. Being able to easily share and use custom content is a welcome addition, too, because it provides a quick way to experiment with different types of Sims.
Keep in mind, too, that additional features and other interesting and unusual content have been introduced in the form of post-launch expansions and add-on packs. Players interested in giving their Sims pets, for example, can purchase the Cats & Dogs expansion, which adds the ability not just to own pets but also to become a veterinarian, while those more interested in socializing can buy the Get Together expansion and create their own clubs. The Seasons expansion provides holiday themed activities and items to buy, as well as a new gardening career. Note that some of this content is available at a discount by purchasing it bundled with the game. Bottom line, the life simulation on offer in The Sims 4 remains spookily accurate, and it feels more accessible than ever. People who want to sit at their desk playing a computer game in which their character also is sitting at a desk playing a computer game probably won't be disappointed.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about marketing to kids. With nearly two dozen pricey expansions, you could spend hundreds of dollars adding to your Sims 4 experience, so how do you decide which, if any, of the expansions are worth your money?
Did you learn anything about the difficulties and stress involved in looking after a household? What sorts of challenges do adults experience in terms of keeping themselves and their families happy and healthy?
Has The Sims 4's constantly growing selection of jobs given you any ideas about what you might want to do for a living or what you might like to study?
- Platforms: Mac, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Subjects: Social Studies: cultural understanding
Hobbies: fashion, pets
- Skills: Self-Direction: set objectives, time management, work to achieve goals
Emotional Development: empathy, perspective taking
Responsibility & Ethics: fiscal responsibility, learning from consequences, making wise decisions
- Price: $39.99
- Pricing structure: Paid (Note that multiple additions, including expansions and themed add-on packs, range in price from $9.99 to $39.99. Some of these are bundled with special editions of the base game and cost $49.99.)
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Electronic Arts
- Release date: September 2, 2014
- Genre: Simulation
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Friendship, Holidays, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: T for Crude Humor, Sexual Themes, Violence
- Last updated: January 31, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.