People are recreating aspects of coronavirus pandemic in ‘The Sims 4’

The Sims 4 has had its “biggest year since launch in terms of revenue and engagement,” according to video game company Electronic Arts.The current pandemic has provided a business boom for digital entertainment companies. YouTube has seen a 500% increase in viewership since March 15.The content that Sims creators have produced has started to reflect the new reality of a pandemic era. However, not all creators have chosen to include it in their content.Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

During times of stress, video games often can provide a reprieve for players or enthusiasts. As we’re now seeing, the current pandemic is no different, with countless viewers and creators alike flocking to games like “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” and “The Sims 4,” to the point where the Nintendo Switch had sold out from stores worldwide for months. According to Electronic Arts, “The Sims 4” had its “biggest year since launch in terms of revenue and engagement.”Video game gameplay already has a strong presence and community on YouTube under normal circumstances, but in quarantine, where platforms like YouTube have seen traffic increases as high as 500 percent, game streaming and gameplay videos are thriving. In “The Sims 4,” content makers have been getting creative and have started to build a work that reflects the new reality of the pandemic era.Pricila, more commonly known to her fans as “Blondie Simmer,” is a “Sims 4” creator who, over the past two months, has created a series of “quarantine vlogs” within the game, roleplaying out the pandemic. In her content, Pricila creates cinematic videos of Sims following the medical advice of many health authorities around the world, being socially distant, and wearing masks when able. Pricila told Insider that she hopes including the pandemic in content provides her viewers with “some comfort and entertainment” and helps them understand that they are not alone. CallMeKevin, RTGame, and GrayStillPlays are some of the top creators in the The Sims YouTube community; combined, they have a YouTube following in excess of 8 million. While they are variety channels, their content generally revolves around The Sims and they are known amongst their fans for their wild antics in the game and unconventional gameplay. They too have begun to include pandemic content in their videos.

GrayStillPlays, who frequently uploads “challenges” in which he has Sims attempt to survive in unconventional scenarios, has been intermittently referencing the pandemic since at least March 25 when he uploaded a video “forcing 100 people to live in total isolation.” In the introduction to the video, he directly mentioned the current situation, stating that “with all of the social distancing going on, I thought it would be a good opportunity to force my Sims to deal with the same torture that the rest of us have.” This trend continued when he uploaded “forcing 100 people to live in a quarantine bunker”. CallMeKevin, who has over 2 million subscribers on YouTube, is known for making Sims videos with dark humor. His cast of characters has been “quarantining” for quite a while but this past March started making reference to the current pandemic. In his video “Sims 4 but I force sims into quarantine,” he has one character stage an abduction under the guise of self-isolation. At the end of the video he states “I don’t mean to be like poking fun at the situation. The situation is quite serious…unprecedented, it’s very, very weird…I’m here to just distract you a little and so that you can have a bit of fun. I just hope you’re all staying safe and staying isolated where you’re able to…stay safe.” As we adjust to aspects of our new normal, so to have Simmers adjusted, reflecting it in their humor and comedy. According to Stanford University and Mayo Clinic, humour can help people cope with distressing situations, and can even improve individuals’ immune systems and offer pain mitigation.Some Simmers have made the conscious choice to leave out the pandemicIncluding the current pandemic in a channel’s content is ultimately a choice which some creators, like Josh from the YouTube channel LetsGameItOut, have opted not to take. Josh prefers not to focus on current events in an effort to keep his videos “a little more timeless” so that they won’t lose relevance and can offer viewers a respite from current events. 

He does, however, acknowledge that focusing on timely matters “can definitely be a strength” and sees the “merit in tackling current events as they come up…, especially as there are so many eyeballs with so much interest specifically on the pandemic.” He continued, “using a life simulator like The Sims I think can be used to express a lot of interesting creativity and scenarios to orbit the subject.”While the decision to use or not to use pandemic content in Sims videos has been an important and thought out one for creators, Pricila, who wants to provide “hope and motivation” for her viewers, is optimistic that it will be a temporary consideration. “Hopefully soon, this pandemic and dark times will be in the past.”  Read more:You can buy a Baby Yoda statue in ‘The Sims 4’ now, and fans are posting memes of their hilarious in-game creationsMoschino’s new clothing line might make you look like a ‘Sims’ character in real life

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