Your Sims family can finally be as eco-friendly as you are. The classic video game, which has had a resurgence in popularity during coronavirus quarantines, just unveiled the Eco Lifestyle Expansion Pack, which will be available to Sims players on June 5.
The Sims Eco Lifestyle Expansion Pack takes place in the fictional Evergreen Harbor, “the sustainable city of your dreams,” according to EA, who publishes the Sims. In Evergreen Harbor, players are responsible for keeping the city as eco-friendly as possible.
“In Evergreen Harbor, every action you take and decision you make influences the state of the world around you,” EA said in a statement. “The cleaner Evergreen Harbor gets, the more you’ll see nature thriving. You determine whether the skies are smoggy or clear enough to see the aurora borealis glimmering above. Let garbage pile up on the streets of your neighborhood or clean it up to create lush green walking paths in town. It’s up to you!”
The pack is filled with endless new features: you can install wind turbines, solar panels, and dew collectors to offset their bill; you can build vegetation-covered living roofs (aka green roofs); you can decorate your house with “sustainably-made” furniture; you can upcycle junk into new items; you can craft and sell eco-friendly products (get your candle-making on!); you can go dumpster diving; and more.
While individual actions are an important part of solving the climate crisis, systemic actions — such as community policies, national or state laws, and changes in corporate policies — can have an even bigger impact. For that reason, in Evergreen Harbor, Sims players will be faced with a dump that’s overtaken a community space. Your Sim will be tasked with converting the dump into either a shared community space, such as a maker space, vertical garden, or performing arts venue. You’ll have to rally your neighbors to attend weekly meetings and vote for their favorite Neighborhood Action Plan.
“Whatever you do in Evergreen Harbor, know that you are changing the world,” EA said.
To any zero-wasters, environmentalists, or climate lobbyists reading, this may all sound a bit silly — wouldn’t time spent virtually building a sustainable home be better spent making zero-waste or eco-friendly changes to one’s actual home? And wouldn’t time spent building an environmentally-friendly community in a computer game be better spent lobbying local politicians to enact actual policies that would protect the planet?
The short answer is, yes, of course it would. But even though the Eco Lifestyle Expansion Pack might be guilty of a bit of greenwashing, it shows that the sustainable living trend — which is much more than just a trend — is continuing to spread into new mediums.
But more importantly, perhaps this will introduce a new subset of people — the Sims' 20 million unique players — to the idea of living sustainably, and they will be inspired to apply what they learn to real life. Researchers have studied the effects of children playing violent video games for more than 25 years, and according to the American Psychological Association, the research shows a consistent correlation between playing violent video game use and aggressive behavior. So who knows, maybe the Sims will inspire other video games to make their virtual worlds more eco-friendly — and that will inspire players to do the same off-screen.
The Eco Lifestyle Expansion Pack is currently available for preorder for PC, Mac, and Xbox One, and it will be available to play on those platforms, as well as PlayStation 4, on June 5. To play the pack, an up-to-date Sims 4 game is required.