4 Takeaways from ‘The Sims’ That Sharpen Your Business Skills

The best selling PC game of 2009 was the Sims 3, and the entire Sims franchise has topped best seller lists since 2002. While the premise of creating virtual people and making them in a virtual town might not appeal to all, the game has sold 4.6 million+ copies, so clearly quite a few people must enjoy the game.

Personally, I can’t get enough. I’m ashamed to admit the numerous hours I’ve given to the Sims franchise. And there’s a simple reason why: The Sims reflects real life, and sometimes even points out things that we might forget. There are actually quite a few things that we can learn about business from playing the Sims.

Make connections. Sims love it when they make new friends! They become happy and stay happy for days. And it just doesn’t help their personal lives; it’s generally a requirement for them to climb their career ladder. The same applies to your company. Not reaching out to make business connections or discover customers is a sure way to flounder. As much as we would like neighbors to ring our Sims’ doorbells or customers to just stumble on your company’s website, it’s just not very likely. Being proactive in expanding your social circle is a necessity.

Maintain contact with customers. Socialization is key to happiness in a Sim’s life. They ask constantly to make friends, chat with their friends, or hang out downtown with their friends. But, of course, they get busy advancing their rock star career or refining their cooking skill, and they start to lose friends. As even casual players can attest, Sims get severely emo when they lose friends. Similarly, you and your company will become severely emo if you start losing customers. Reach out to them with good customer service, sales, or social media. Letting my Sims call old friends to chat boosts their mood all day which proves that a small time investment will go a long way.

Know your personal limits. If you’re anything like me, I always push my Sims to the brink of exhaustion. I don’t care if it’s 3 am and they are freaking out about wanting to sleep, they are fifteen minutes away from logic level seven, and dang it, they are going get there. Yet, even with trying my hardest, there are times when Sims will override my demands and just go to bed. The same goes for us humans. When you feel your eyes starting to blur over a computer monitor, or the numbers you’re crunching just won’t crunch correctly, it’s time to take a break. Get up and take a walk around the office, go grab a snack or some water from the break room, or pop outside for some fresh air. Studies have proven that breaks from work will make your work time more productive. Knowing that almost makes me want to let my Sims have a break to eat a cookie. Almost.

Keep your technology current. Every so often, wants like “Buy something worth 100 Simoleons” or “Buy the super awesome TV” will pop up in your Sims’ wants box. They get happy when you buy them something smart and new, and humans are the same way. Not saying that you need to upgrade your technology the second it debuts, but working on an Apple 2 and calculating with a slide rule is a sure way to keep your employees frustrated. When my Sims become beyond frustrated because their cheap, 50-Simoleon TV breaks for the thirty-seventh time, I know that it’s time to invest in the more expensive models.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of what we can learn from our Sims. It might be obnoxious for Sarah Sim to continually call her friends and do her laundry, but they’re things that we have to do in real life. Not many other games make you think about real life applications or give you such handy reminders for business practices!

Are there other business or life lessons that we can learn from the Sims? Any other games (besides Tetris) that can apply to business? And most importantly, why can’t there be a ‘rosebud’ money cheat for real life?

Image Credit: Maurício Kanno | Flickr

Mandy Kilinskis

Mandy is proud to be a part of QLP’s content team. A self-professed nerd, her interests include video games, sitcoms, superhero movies, iPods and iPhones but never Macs, and shockingly, writing. Her claims to fame are: owning over forty pairs of Chuck Taylor All Stars, offering spot-on coffee advice, and knowing an unbelievable amount of Disney Princess facts. You can connect with Mandy on


  1. JPorretto

    There ARE money cheats in real life…. but the penalty for being caught is usually jail time. They don’t do that in the SIMS do they? I’d hate to put in a cheat code only for it to turn into Grand Theft Auto and me trying to escape. Check that, I’d LOVE it if that happened.

    Solid Post MK!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      And I get that, but I want to be able to hit a metaphorical tab key, spend the three seconds typing in ‘rosebud,’ and then reap rewards.

      There was never any penalty for using the money cheat in Sims 1, and I couldn’t say about Sims 2 or 3 – I went legit and cheat-free when 2 came out.

  2. LK

    I love this blog. AWESOME comparisons.

    I always got so annoyed when my Sims couldnt advance in their career if they didn’t have enough friends… but I didn’t think they had time to make friends, they had to master the Baked Alaska to become the best chef! However, now that I am in the real business world, I see how important it is to have those friends as connections and also as a way to take a break from work.

    Thanks for making me now want to re-install Sims on my computer and cause it to slow down x 5.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      I know! It’s always interesting to look back and see how right the Sims had it, even if we found it pointless or frustrating.

      At least now it’s easier to make friends. They can just jump on the computer and start chatting with someone.

      And I apologize in advance for the slow computer.

  3. cyberneticSAM

    *tear* I miss the playing the Sims… I think I will have permanent eye and back problems because of that game, playing for 8 hours a day for years will do that! Haha! Great post! Though I never played it the legit way (cheats all the way!) it was either be a millionaire or nothing! 🙂

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      If you just turn off aging, with a little hard work and investing in real estate, you can be a millionaire in no time!

      Though I’m with you, I used to be an 8 hours a day player, too.

  4. Amanda

    Great post Mandy! =)

    Lauren–I’m with you! This post makes me want to play The Sims! I have only the old versions, and I’m actually thinkning about upgrading now. The Sims is so much fun. As kids, me and my siblings would sit in a circle around the computer while one of us was playing, and watch. Then in 15 minutes, we’d switch and take turns, lol. We all loved it!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Thanks Amanda! I highly suggest upgrading. Sims 2 and 3 are tons better than 1.

  5. Joseph Giorgi

    This post is great, Mandy! Funny and informative stuff! 🙂

    I’ve never been a Sims fan, but I completely understand the obsession that people have with it.

    Excellent business tips all around. I’m especially fond of number two: I’m pretty sure that the last thing we’d want is for QLP to lose customers and for the owners to go all “emo” on us—listening to Fall Out Boy and Panic at the Disco and whatnot. That’s bad news all around. It’s a good thing we stay on the cutting edge of social media and always go above and beyond for our customers.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Thanks, Joe! I feel a lot better about investing hours of my life in the Sims now that I realized I’ve learned something from it!

      And you’re right about us not wanting to lose customers and make them emo. The last thing I would want is some customer sending in bad poetry. 🙁

  6. Jana Quinn

    This is my favorite takeaway: “Being proactive in expanding your social circle is a necessity.”

    After all, what did you do to get the word out about this post? You Tweeted it to several different (relevant) accounts, Facebooked it, and posted it on forums. You didn’t just publish the post and rest on your laurels.

    How’s that working out for you? Well, just take a look to social media shares on the left… 😉

    The internet needs more bloggers who practice what they preach. 🙂

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      It’s so true! I didn’t share my last few posts very actively, and the social share differences are astounding! From now on I will definitely be putting in the time to get my post out there.

  7. Jill Tooley

    Another quality post, Mandy!

    All four of your points hit home, but your fourth stands out to me quite a bit. It’s one thing to be frugal and resist the temptation to buy the newest iPad version every two months, but it’s quite another to let your technology completely fall behind the standard. As they say, you have to spend money to make money…and customers aren’t going to wait around if your computer takes 20 minutes to load every screen or save a file. In regard to the Sims, I know exactly what you mean about the cheap-ass TV sets; I tend to buy the cheapest appliances possible and then rant and rave when they break ten minutes into the game. Sometimes it’s better to just spend the extra money up front and save some hassle!

    Oh, and you get super-fantastic-fun points for your use of “emo.” It’s annoying when my Sims get all mopey and difficult, and that’s the perfect way to describe it! The only things missing are the hair toss, the sigh, and the melancholy gazes into the distance.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      I’ve worked at companies that are just on the border of their technology being obnoxious. I had to turn on my computer in the morning and then go find something else to do for 20 minutes while I waited for it to warm up! It was really time to cave in and get something that takes only ten minutes or less to load.

      Every single time I buy my Sims the cheapest stove, and then I get angry when they burn or undercook their food. It’s their fault, not the stove! Arg! And then I buy them the super fancy one and their pancakes are perfect and I never hear another Sim grumble again.

      • Jill Tooley

        Right there with you! I have the most problems with the toilets and showers. On the XBOX version we own, I swear the damn toilet has to be unclogged every single time a Sim uses it. Gimme a break! And it’s impossible to keep up with all of the cleaning – one time it took 2 Sim hours to clean the shower. It’s 11 pm by the time you clean the house, make the food, and pay the bills after work! That’s something they should work on in future games: more accurate time elapse!

        And I digress…

  8. Lauren G.

    This is one of my favorite posts yet, next to the Lady Gaga and social media post a few days ago! As Jill knows, I too am an avid Sims player. I have asked my boyfriend Josh (from the IT dept) for the new “Medieval” Sims. 🙂 The Sims is a great game for anyone to play, especially young people. It helps them realize that balancing life and work is not an easy task. Let alone if you have your own business thrown in there!

    Your first point on making connections is so true in every aspect of business. You have to MEET people and connect with them on a level of trust in you and your company/product. Also, you have to maintain that, which the Sims do. As for technology, well, that is not my forte. I try to stay “with the times,” I really do. But, Jill made a valid point, you don’t want customers waiting around for your computer to load. You have to spend money to make it.

    I also like to make my Sims do what I want them to until they’re mad because they’re “tired.” There’s no time to be tired, Sim!

    Awesome post!! I know what I’m doing on my Friday night…Sims!! 😀

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Oh man, Sims Medieval is great game. (Unless your favorite thing about the Sims is building or aging kids, then maybe not so much.) I’m on like my seventh kingdom.

      I have serious respect for business owners after joining the working force but also from playing the ‘Open for Business’ expansion pack. It was so hard to make money, hire the right employees, etc.

  9. Michael Heartfield

    Very creative and thoughtful post, Mandy!

    I especially liked your note about knowing your limits. If only we all came with little bars that told us how close we were to complete exhaustion or emotional distress. It would be even better if we could see other people’s bars sometimes.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Life would be so much easier if we all had those green mood bars floating over our heads. Is your coworker red? Probably not the time to ask for a favor. Is your boss’ green? Maybe now’s the time to ask for that raise…

  10. Wim @ Sales Sells

    Hi Mandy, great stuff!

    I love sim games but sadly I don’t really have the time to play them anymore.. I must say I learned a lot from games like sim city, rollercoaster tycoon, transport tycoon, hospital tycoon, pizza tycoon, championship manager,…

    Management skills, cost-benefit analysis, risk evaluation, you name it!

    I always hate when people say gaming is “useless” or a waste of time. Research has proven over and over again that kids develop skills like co-ordination, problem solving. Of course it’s best when enjoyed in moderation. 8 hours a day might be a bit too much of a good thing 🙂

    Thank you for sharing,

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Ah, yes! I was a big fan of Rollercoaster Tycoon (though Zoo Tycoon is where it’s at), but I was always so frustrated at how easy it was for me to suddenly be bankrupt when I was halfway through building my epic roller coaster. But you’re right, then I learned some money management and cost-benefit skills, and suddenly I was dominating!

      I turn my nose down at critics of gaming. My dad had me playing adventure games with him when I was really young, and I attribute a lot of my creative thinking and problem solving skill set to them.

  11. Jenna Markowski

    I could never really get into the Sims — by the time I made my people and decorated my house, I got tired of playing. However, these are some really useful tips! I’ve experienced first-hand the benefits of making connections and friends in the professional world. In fact, if I hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t have found out about this job! 🙂

  12. Amy

    “As even casual players can attest, Sims get severely emo when they lose friends. Similarly, you and your company will become severely emo if you start losing customers. Reach out to them with good customer service, sales, or social media.” That quote literally made me laugh out loud Mandy, it’s soooo true!!!

    Despite the fact I played Sims for an entire summer as if it were my full-time job, I never thought of it in those terms. Great post!!

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