5 Ways To Become Emotionally Attached To Your Sims

Let’s be honest and call a spade a spade-when playing The Sims, we tend to build parasocial relationships with our pixel people. Apart from maybe getting married to your Sim in real life (getting married to them in the game is very normal 😁), there is no such thing as getting too attached. There’s no more harm in being emotionally invested in your Sims than there is in feeling attached to your favorite character in a book.

Connecting with our Sims makes the game more immersive and adds a layer of meaning and significance. This is one of the best ways to have fun in the game and keep it from getting boring. How can you become emotionally attached to your Sims if you’re struggling though? As a lifelong lover of the Sims myself, fear no more. I’m sharing a few steps on how to fall in love with your pixel people. I hope these tips help you feel a little more sentimental about your Sims.

Listen to this episode if:

  • You want to feel more connected to your Sims.
  • You want to create a more immersive experience in your game.
  • You’re looking for a way to keep the game interesting.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Infuse Your Sims with Personality

Creating a Sim that will tug on your heart strings takes more than creating the most beautiful, maybe even realistic looking Sim in Create-A-Sim (CAS). To make your Sims come alive, infuse them with personality traits that turn them into complex, interesting, and relatable characters. Giving your Sims conflicting or flawed traits to adds depth to their identity. The struggle that results from the conflict with give you something to empathize with.

Consider this: instead of making your Sim just “kind” or “ambitious,” why not give them contrasting traits? A conflicting combination can lead to unexpected interactions and messy, oh-so-fun storylines. For example, how about an outgoing meanie that loves to meet new people and diss them a minute later?

When selecting traits for your Sims, you can also consider traits that you admire. By choosing traits that resonate with you personally, you’ll find it easier to identify with them and feel more invested in your Sim’s journey and growth. If you admire creativity, give your Sim the artistic trait; if you always wanted to be a smarty pants, make them a genius programmer. It can be just as fun to choose traits opposite of yourself. In The Sims we can live vicariously through our Sims. Seize this perfect opportunity to finally explore your ratchet alter ego.

Creating a backstory for your Sims can also make them come to life and help you connect with their story. Think about where they came from and what events shaped them into who they are today. Perhaps Billy Jean grew up in a small town and is the born heir to the family ranch but has the voice of a song bird who belongs on the stages of the big, bustling city. Backstory not only informs their desires and goals but also provides context for the choices they make throughout the game. Will Billy Jean take care of the ranch like Pa always wished for or will she follow her dreams and get famous? Is there a middle-ground?

Give Your Sims The Chance To Be Spontaneous

To truly bring your Sims’ personalities to life, embrace autonomy within gameplay. Allow your Sims to make decisions on their own without constant guidance from you. Release your Sims into the world and let them interact with other Sims to see how they behave. Resist the urge to micromanage them—at least for a few hours. The more chances you give your Sim to show their unique self, the more likely you’ll be able to organically connect with them.

By embracing spontaneity and allowing your Sims to follow their instincts, who knows what will happen. Isn’t that exciting?! It’s through these unscripted interactions that your Sim’s true colors shine through—revealing layers of personality and story that not even the most colorful imagination could’ve conjured.

Create Lives Full Of Potential and Possibility

But don’t just stop at letting your Sims roam freely; give them goals to work towards as well. Creating lives full of potential means providing them with aspirations beyond mere existence. Whether it’s climbing the corporate ladder, starting a family or opening the best restaurant in town, giving your Sims something tangible to strive for adds purpose and direction. If your Sim has something you can root for, that’s a Sim you can care about.

Also create events or celebrations for not only your Sim to look forward to, but you as well. Birthdays, anniversaries, or even a simple neighborhood barbecue can add some anticipation for the next moment in game. These special occasions become anchors in your Sims’ lives – milestones that mark the passage of time and provide opportunities for shared memories with their friends, loved ones and the ominous watcher.

Give Your Sims A Hard Time

However, don’t be afraid to give your Sims a hard time as well. Introduce conflict into their lives—challenges that test their resolve and push them out of their comfort zones. By facing whatever nonsense you throw at them, your Sims will become more relatable as they struggle through difficult moments. Root for their success in overcoming obstacles. Their success won’t come easy (you’ll make sure of that), which will make victory all the more sweeter. Life is not always smooth sailing, and neither should it be for your Sims.

Imagine your Sim has just been laid off from their dream job. They had put in years of hard work—well, two seasons worth at least—only to be faced with an unexpected setback. How would they respond? Would they crumble under the weight of disappointment and pull a reverse rags-to-riches? Or will they rise above it with determination and reinvent themselves?

It is during these trying times that we get to be in the front row seats of disaster, brimming with anticipation of where things will go for our pixel people. As the watcher and endless source of imagination, have fun steering your Sims in the right direction (or not ☠️ …).

Develop A History With Your Sims

To develop a history with your Sims, spend quality time with them. Watch in awe as they navigate relationships, pursue careers, embark on exciting adventures and try to escape the walled-in pool. Follow your founder and heirs into old age and turn one generation into many. Document the memories of your Sims’ first romance, their first alien baby, and trip to Sixam with screenshots or keep a record of milestones in a planner or journal. These tangible reminders will bring back cherished moments from the past and fuel new stories for future Simming sessions. This not only helps you stay organized but also allows you to reminisce on the growth and progression of your Sims’ lives.

Consider these things the next time you start a save, when you’re in CAS creating your Sim or when you’re grabbing a pre-made townie in a new save file. Use these tips to build a connection with your Sims so that the fun doesn’t end with one or two gaming sessions. The more you get emotionally involved, the more fun you’ll have. Pinky promise. Next thing you know, you’ll be devoting hours and hours on end to your Sims and find it hard to let go once the Grim comes.


[00:00:00] Gloria from Yellow Llama Co.: Welcome to Sentimental Simmer, a podcast made for emotionally attached simmers and storytellers with wild imaginations. I’m your host, Gloria, and I run Yellow Llama Co., a planner shop made to help simmers play with purpose. Every week, I talk all about things sim life planning, storytelling, and memory keeping. I’ll also brainstorm new ways to obsess over our pixel people, whether they be in the Sims or another life sim game. And now let’s get into it.

Welcome to today’s podcast. Today I’m going to be talking about what makes us get emotionally attached to our Sims. I think it’s super easy to fall in love with pixel people. I mean, literally. It’s a reason why most of us, or some of us, don’t turn aging on. We really do build parasocial relationships with our Sims, and I think simmers that don’t do that are really missing out. I think bonding with our Sims makes the game more immersive and adds a layer of meaning and significance. I believe this is really one of the best ways to have fun in the game and keep it from getting stale, so I’m sharing a few steps on how to fall in love with your pixel people.

So about six years ago, I had started a Let’s Play. It was my first Let’s Play ever. I was really hyped. It was right after Isla Paradiso dropped for The Sims 3, and I was ready to try everything out, especially hotels. I was really looking forward to it. And so I created this Sim. I don’t even remember her name, but I created her. She was going to have scuba diving somehow in her aspirations. That was what she was going for. And so I started to play the game. I was recording. Commentary was fire. It wasn’t. She went to the community pool, to the local swimming pool, to go scuba diving just to practice her skills before she goes to the open ocean, and just a few seconds later, that sound… I think the sound came where death came, because she died. I was like, you gotta be kidding me. I was still recording. I was flabbergasted. I was like, oh my God. I didn’t want to give up the Let’s Play that I just now started.

I invested so much time in creating her and thinking up what I wanted to do with her, which funny enough, I have no idea, recollection anymore, what that was all about. I just wanted to jump into the Let’s Play. And so I went to the neighborhood mode, into the neighborhood view, and I was like, okay, it’s a new world. It’s got new townies. Let’s see if we can get with one of them. And so I looked through some of the biographies, and I landed on Senorita Hernandez. And her biography really got me hooked. I was like, okay, I need to play her.

So real quick, I’m going to read to you what it said, and I think you’ll understand then why I had to play her, why I had to try her out. So it went as such, Florita left her lover after he lost everything to the Altos, and she soon started a steamy affair with Alfonso Alto himself. Florita has big dreams of wealth, prestige, and power, but will her wanton ways really net her all she desires? I was like, what? Wanton ways, a steamy affair, wealth, prestige, and power, yes, sign me up.

So I loaded the household and found out in the relationship panel that Florita had a daughter, but the daughter wasn’t living with her. The daughter was living with the father. And so I was like, okay, wow, this is even more juicy than I thought it was. Like, what kind of backstory is behind all that? Like, what did she do that her daughter isn’t even living with her anymore? Like, man, she been trifling. And so right then and there, I was like, okay, this is my mission now to help this deviant divorcee win back, first and foremost, the freaking trust of her daughter, because that’s important, resurrect the sim that I had lost before, because I still was kind of attached, and I didn’t want to give up on her entirely. And I also, of course, wanted to play with Isla Paradiso and all the new features. So building a thriving hotel empire was also in line of Florita’s future, her next steps. And so I was going to be the captain of her redemption story.

As you can tell, after reading her bio, after those couple of sentences, I was already head over heels with her story and wanted to play her and wanted to get into her story and figure things out. So it really felt bigger than pushing pixels. She was more than a glorified Tamagotchi I had to take care of. She had a backstory, and I knew enough about Florita to want to know her better, and even to play her story arc, right, her character arc, help her improve and give her a better life. Suddenly, I had an important mission, a fascinating story that I wanted to see unravel.

So that bio prompted that story for sure. And my imagination kind of just ran with it. Of course, also my motivation to play with Isla Paradiso, the whole hotel empire thing. So I was like, okay, cool, we’re going to do this now. It’s kind of like the feeling you get after the first few pages of a good book, where you get to know the character, what they’re going through, and you’re curious where things are going to go. And you’re kind of already rooting for them. Something about them made them relatable or interesting. You’re excited about what’s to come.

And I think that is something that is key when it comes to becoming emotionally invested in your Sims, is they have potential. It’s not only about, okay, I want to make sure they have food and a roof over their head and be able to pay their bills. You want to guide them through the future, but you’re also curious what that future entails. And it’s just fun playing that as well and just seeing where things go. Kind of like also the reason why after chapter one, you’re continuing with that good book, is you want to see how that character is going to develop and how life’s going to go.

Let’s start with the elephant in the room. We are all very, very close to our Sims. And there’s nothing wrong with that, okay? You’re just fine. You’re fine. Okay? It could definitely classify as a parasocial relationship, probably not could, it does. Okay, let’s say it like it is, but it is really harmless. It’s harmless affection and by no means pathological, though can end that way for our Sims if we lose that connection.

I think for a lot of us, our Sims feel like our babies, like our ward, some pixel creature to take care of and to guide throughout their lives. We’re their mother, we’re their matchmaker, and if things go sour, sometimes we’re their unaliver, truth be told, okay? And sometimes we don’t unalive them in a, you know, humane way. I’m not going to get into that right now, okay? But there’s nothing wrong with you. Sometimes we just grow apart, okay?

The game has been engineered, though, to encourage that nurturing and empathizing with our Sims. I watched a GDC talk with a creative director from the Sims, and he actually talked about this, that the game is made to trigger that response in you. It’s made like a story engine, so to say, a storytelling engine. So there’s no wonder that that bio was well-written from Florida to make me want to play her. I think it’s similar, also, the way we get attached to our Sims is kind of like how writers get attached to the characters they create.

We breathe life into these Sims, so sure, some might come with a backstory, if, you know, we’re playing some pre-made townie, or maybe we’re on CAS, and we think about a backstory, or alone the way we clothe them, or the way we make them look, the traits we give them, we already kind of have a backstory, a personality form in there, and we already kind of see the future as well. We look forward to, ooh, what could I do with this Sim, or maybe you already have plans for this Sim, or you’re looking forward to what they’re going to get into when you play the game and put autonomy on. They are our creative incarnations, you know, their lives are what we make of them. We control them the entire time, like a child, right?

And I think, just like when a character crystallizes in a writer’s mind, and they really feel like they know them, and the character, if they feel like the character’s dialogue comes on its own, I think it’s kind of the same with the Sims. Once their story is born, we begin to love them, and really get attached. I personally think it is the easiest thing to do in any life simulation game, for that matter, to fall in love with your pixel people.

I think, really, the relationship that comes closest is a writer and their protagonists. They create this persona, this personality, and maybe a plot to go around it, and they just want to help that character reach their goal and develop. I think that’s also why Kill Your Darlings, you know, the saying about if you have too many characters, or you need a focused character in your book, if you’re writing a story, Kill Your Darlings is supposed to be a tip to help you trim the fat, whether it is killing a couple of lines in your copy to make it more succinct, or actually killing off characters because they’re unnecessary. It’s super hard, if you’re a writer, to do that, because you’re attached to maybe every word you’ve put on the page. Depending on how much backstory and personality and thought you’ve invested in a character, they can feel near real. For the sake of your story, you’re being told now to nick them, and it’s like not that easy.

It’s very similar to The Sims, especially if you start playing them and have a history with them. It’s just really tough. But for those who are finding it not so easy to get attached to their Sims, maybe it’s because they’re not naturally inclined to get emotionally attached to anything in particular, or I know a lot of people aren’t happy with The Sims 4, and that maybe it’s not as in-depth, and it’s harder to get connected to a Sim in that game than maybe a previous iteration, so The Sims 3 or The Sims 2. I think The Sims 3 was really great with those different traits and how they interacted between different Sims.

I think it was super easy to create a dynamic Sim and to get it attached to whatever personality they were exhibiting to you. But for whatever reason you’re finding it difficult, I’m going to list some steps to help you create that bond with your Sims and also in turn make your game more fun and less boring.

So step one, I think you should infuse your Sims with personality. That starts of course in cast, giving them traits. For example, I think what makes them more interesting is if you give them conflicting or flawed traits to make the Sim more complex. So for example, you could create an outgoing meanie, a paranoid technophobe. Think about creating a Sim that might make trouble for himself or herself because of the traits they have, or for others. For example, an outgoing meanie loves to be out on the town and meet new people, but at the same time, they’re really difficult with these people. They are mean to them, to these people. So I see a lot of conflict from that constellation, and I think that is a lot of fun. And that will give your Sim also a bit of personality.

Have some thought behind the traits you’re giving them, so it could be conflicting or flawed traits, or you could give them a trait that you have, something opposite of yours, or qualities you admire. One key reason why we get emotionally invested in our Sims, and from their personalities, if it’s relatable. So as soon as a Sim is relatable and you can see yourself in them, or maybe you see something you would like to strive towards, then it’s easier to get hooked to that Sim. And also of course, be invested in their future and want to actually play them. For one, maybe it can give you the chance to live vicariously through the Sims, as your enhanced self, for example, or your ratchet alter ego, also a possibility. So that’s another way to give the Sims a personality that also helps them be relatable.

Another way to give your Sims personality is to create a backstory. So Florita obviously had one, she had a really juicy one. That really formed her identity for me, and helped inform also how I would want to play with her moving forward, what kind of future she could have, which I of course decided I could have also said, okay, no, she’s going to continue being her Jezebel self, and she’s going to continue doing what she’s doing, but I wanted to switch it up a bit and help her out. That backstory is what helped me know what was possible for her, and what could maybe be in contrast to what she’s done before.

So I think backstory definitely helps you empathize with your character, and relate to their past trials and tribulations. So for example, with Florita, seeing her relationship with her daughter, and the fact that the daughter didn’t live with her, I was like, okay, there’s some past there, there’s some conflict there. And it definitely helped me connect with her, because I felt bad for her daughter as well. Like, I felt bad for whatever went wrong there, and I felt bad that whatever Florita’s been doing so far, obviously has had a negative effect on her actual personal relationships. In my opinion, the most important relationship in her life, the one with her daughter. So I was invested.

So I think if you create a backstory that gives your sim an identity, it can really help you build a stronger connection with them, as well as an investment in their journey, and what they’re going to be doing moving forward.

Step two, I think it can be helpful to give your sims the opportunity to do something unexpected. This will let them show you their personality on their own. I think the more a sim does this, the more you will feel like you’re less of a puppet master, and more like, oh, these pixel people actually have motives, and ergo personality, and it makes them feel more real. To create opportunities for your sims to do something unexpected, you can play, of course, with autonomy on.

So give them free will, and don’t control your sim for some time. So that could be for maybe a day in the sims’ lives. Give them a chance to actually move about, make decisions on their own without your control. It can definitely be fun to see what they do, if it’s maybe something out of character that shows you maybe a piece of their personality that you didn’t think of before. And it can also prompt more story and personality. So while maybe their actions don’t straight out tell you more about who they are, it could prompt some ideas based on how they behave.

Of course, also when you’re doing this, maybe click on them once or twice to send them outside of their home. If a sim can explore the community and relationships with other sims, if you see how they interact with them, that can also help form a personality for them and see how they are with other sims. And that can also maybe trigger some ideas for their storyline, trigger some ideas for their character development.

All in all, that’s great to help you become emotionally invested and care more about what they’re doing. The next step you can do is to create sims’ lives that feel full of possibility and potential. This will definitely keep you engaged and emotionally invested. For example, with Florida, obviously she had a rocky past. It looked like she had a not-so-nice present because of that. But because of what I learned from her, I thought up then a future for her that was for me exciting to play. For example, it was a new expansion pack. So I felt, okay, this is an opportunity for me to explore a new career option or a freelance option I think it was or something like that, the Hotel Mogul Empire thing. And it matched, of course, her goals.

Wealth and prestige is important to her. The way she’s been doing it before was, you know, through men, marrying them, getting their money and things like that, or their influence. And I had decided, okay, well, based on what I know from her, I want to create a future for her that gives her what she wants, but in a way that I more so agree with. Not that I don’t agree with, you know, want in a ways with men. Lord knows I’ve played enough of those storylines as well. They can be very engaging just the same. But in this case, she was going for self-made woman boss energy, okay?

And so I think one way to create that life full of hope and potential is to give your sim a goal to work towards. So whether it’s being the next Hotel Mogul or choosing an aspiration in the game, maybe looking towards building a family, playing a challenge that you found online. I think also for short-term, things that you can create to get you looking forward to maybe just the next gaming session that you have is to create an event that the sim can look forward to. So whether it be a holiday, a tradition that you start with your sim or their family, any celebrations that might be upcoming. If they have a raise, you can actually go out with them for drinks to celebrate that.

Maybe you can create a new sim, plop it into their world and that new encounter is something that you want to look forward to because you want them to meet for whatever reason. Maybe it fits your storyline in some way. Experiences that you create for the future of your sim will make you feel invested in that sim. It’ll connect you with that sim and ultimately help you create a stronger bond because you will care about where they’re going. The next step you can do to create that connection with your sim is to give them a hard time. So basically throw some stones in their way, make things a bit harder for them, add some conflict into their life. So just like real life for us, life ain’t easy, okay? And I think a sim working through some form of conflict is again, a relatable sim. I think if everything’s honky-dory all the time, they have like a gazillion simoleons, they’re at the top of their career and they have perfect relationships with everyone in their life. Well that’s stale, okay? That’s boring.

So what we want to do is throw some conflict in there, make things harder. I think this will allow you to sympathize with the current predicament of that sim and root for their success or depending on where you’re going with this, their demise. So maybe in Florida, she’s stuck in her wanton ways and she just, you know, I don’t know, gets into some things that I hadn’t planned for, okay? Either way, I think it’ll make things more exciting and similar to giving them potential with plans into their lives. If you give them some difficulties to work through, then them coming out all the better afterwards or you may be hoping for that, that will help you become more emotionally invested in that sim. So give them a hard time. Don’t make things so easy.

And last but not least, I think another step to becoming emotionally invested and connected with your sim and where they’re going in life is develop a history with your sims. That means you need to spend time with them. So that’s really the key thing here to develop that history. You can’t just play in CAS and expect from the get-go to already feel connected to that sim. I know a lot of us do, okay?

For some of us, it comes easier than others, but I think ultimately, the more time you spend with your sim and give them a chance to experience things and for you to share experiences with them in that sense, to make memories with them, that will help you feel connected to them. History isn’t made in a day. It could take time. It could take maybe a couple of gaming sessions or perhaps it takes an entire life stage for you to feel anything about a sim.

For example, I have a family where the mom had about four kids or something like that and I didn’t care about any one of them particularly because it was just too much. I couldn’t really focus on any one of them. But then the more time I spent with them when they were aging up and the more time I spent with them experiencing different things in different ways, it made them different from each other. Personalities crystallized. But also, I just experienced more with them.

I was taking screenshots. I was thinking up stories and more and more stories for their future and that just helped me ultimately feel connected to them and care about them and where they were going to go. Now I’m fully invested. Now I’m definitely not going to kill any of them off or give them up. For now, I’m really interested in where their stories are going to go.

One has died off from burning belly disease. I have a mod, okay, that does that, which it was super tragic. Contribute to the exciting storyline I have going. But ultimately it was that time I spent with those Sims that made me care about their future and their outcome.

So I think developing history with your Sims is an important step in becoming connected with them. It also gives the experience you’re having with them meaning if you document their history. So I think spending time with the Sims but also documenting as much as you can of what they’re going through in their lives.

So taking screenshots obviously is the most simple and straightforward way to do that. And also I like to keep a record of memories. I’ve created a planner for my Sims. I’ve created like a printed one, a digital one, multiple digital ones now also for OneNote available. But yes, I think it’s super fun to document and get scrapbook-y with those memories that you’re making with your Sims. You are developing a connection now.

At this point, I mean, they have a future, they have a past, they have a personality, and they have some things they’re going through. It’s really fun to be on that journey and experience it with them. It’s even more fun to look back on that and be nostalgic about all those things that they went through. And so I definitely advise freezing those moments in time, whether it’s with a screenshot, jotting down some notes about them, creating a full-fledged Wikipedia, whatever floats your boat, okay? I’m not judging you.

I think by now, you’re probably head over heels for your Sims. I mean, you gotta be. I think it’s really a near-natural thing that’s bound to happen anyways. But if you had some trouble, I hope those steps helped you struggle less and make things a bit easier so that you can really enjoy your time when you’re playing The Sims and really get immersed in the game. I think these tips also apply to upcoming Life Sims as well.

So I focused on The Sims because that’s the current reigning model out there. But I think whether it’s a para or a lifer or maybe even a king in Crusader Kings or Barbie, if you’re playing with your dolls, this applies to all of them. These steps can really help you build that emotional connection and ergo have more fun in the game because you’re invested, you’re immersed, you’re in the story, you’re deep in the thick of things.

So to summarize, the steps are as follows. Infuse your Sims with personality, whether that’s creating a backstory for them, conflicting flaws, things like that. You can give them an opportunity to do something unexpected, to show their true colors perhaps, maybe something against the grain of what you’ve thought of them already for their story. Another step is to create Sim lives that feel full of possibility and potential, to keep you engaged and curious about their future. Another step is to give them a hard time, to throw in some stones in their way, make them stumble and trump a little bit so they have something to work with and also to be proud of when they get through these things. And last but not least, my favorite, develop a history with your Sims. So spend time with them and document all the crazy adventures that they’re going through so that you can reflect on them at a later time.

I really invite you to consider these things the next time you start a save, when you’re in CAS creating your Sim or when you’re grabbing a pre-made townie in a new save file to really have fun with it and use these tips to build a connection with them so that it doesn’t stick with one or two gaming sessions, that you can really get involved and play hours and hours and hours on end with that Sim.

Thank you so much for listening to this podcast.

So the next episode is going to be a part two of this one, while we focused on falling in love with your Sims in this episode, we’re going to be focusing on what to do when you fall out of love with your Sims in the next episode. Because yes, oh my God, that can happen. As we know, that’s why we get bored with Sims, right? We don’t want to play anymore and we’re like, ugh, what are you going to do? But there’s a way to fall back in love with them so that over and over and over again, you can fall back in love with your Sims and they don’t get stale and don’t get dry and dusty and you can keep with it. Definitely look forward to that one.

If you enjoyed this episode, definitely subscribe to the podcast so that you’re always informed when a new one drops. You can check the show notes for any links and tips I had. Can’t wait to speak to you again. Until then, bye!

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