I hate doing laundry.
On the long list of chores involved with being an adult, laundry is by far one of the worst. If I could get away with it, I wouldn’t even do my laundry at all. Alas, I don’t want to walk around covered in dead skin cells from last year, so I do the deed. But, once I heard that The Sims 4 was getting a laundry-themed “stuff pack”, I was ecstatic.
It’s a bit weird describing the joys of The Sims to someone who doesn’t play it as regularly as I do. There are many different ways to play the game, whether it be by just mucking around within the game’s sandbox or trying to live out your greatest ambitions in video game form.
For me, I always try to play the game as is, as a life sim. I’ll usually use the famous motherlode cheat to get my sims to the point in life I want them to be, usually just moving in to their first home as a married couple, and begin launching them in their respective career paths. The Sims community is rife with debate on what the “best” way to play is, which I’m sure can be difficult for EA when it’s trying to figure out which subset to focus marketing around. However, I’m always excited by the prospect of having more avenues to recreate real-life situations. With The Sims 4: Laundry Day Stuff, I got just what I wanted.
As with most Sims games, new gameplay mechanics are introduced in Laundry Day Stuff via a simple progression of objects. If your sims are low on funds, or you’re just looking to keep electricity costs down (not that the game keeps track of that sorta thing) there is the washing board and clothesline combo. I tried these out first in the spirit of the stuff pack’s new rustic theme. It was weird seeing my Sims, who live in a modest three bedroom suburban house, doing their laundry in a bucket with a washing board like they lived in some apocalyptic wasteland, but the clothesline was quite a nice touch. My parents, two people who will save money whenever possible, hang their clothes out to dry in the warmer months despite having a low-energy dryer inside. It felt nostalgic seeing my Sims do just the same thing.
After experimenting with the two lower-budget options, I bought my Sims a washing machine and a dryer. The game only offers one option — a pair of large, identical machines that take up as much space as their real life counterparts. I had to create a laundry room in their house to accommodate them, which took even more simoleons, but my sims didn’t seem to mind. After a few days of filling up their hampers with dirty clothes, which happens every time your sims shower or change clothes during the day, I put my sims to work.
The whole endeavour makes doing laundry look much less tedious than it does in real life, like most chores in The Sims. Throwing a sack of dirty clothes into the wash, letting it run a cycle, and moving the clothes to the dryer felt cathartic. Something unexpected happened, however, once I finished the laundry and made my sims change clothes to go out to dinner.
In The Sims 4, doing certain actions can cause sims to react differently, giving them buffs for completing different activities. Most of the time, my sims will gain a sense of satisfaction after eating a snack they suddenly crave or chatting with a friend they haven’t seen in a while. The game calls these “whims”, which appear every so often and aren’t very important in terms of your sim’s overall happiness. Just nice little things we all get the urge to do throughout the day.
After finishing a load of laundry, feeling the freshly clean cloth against their skin gave them a similar buff of happiness. When my sims then went to the restaurant, they seemed happier to be in each other’s company. It felt like doing this small, usually inconvenient chore, turned their night from average to wonderful.
That moment felt real to me, because I’ve had similar instances happen to me. Small, insignificant things that turn into nuggets of joy can have a big impact on my day. Whether it be making lunch for myself the day before I go to work or when I find one more candy at the bottom of the bag. That domino effect of little surprises can help bad days turn around or, at the very least, help me realise that everything is okay.
Video games usually are one of those little surprises for me as I sit down to play something at the end of a hectic day. Knowing that my sims have those same joys in the mundane aspects of life helps reinforce what The Sims has always been about for me, even if the various communities of the game still can’t agree if laundry is cool or not.