The great thing about video games is that they aren’t real life: Death is just a reason to try again, failing doesn’t keep food off the table, and high-speed chases are just good clean fun. When things get hard, you can just walk away, so it’s surprising to find that this mentality does not carry over to virtual marriages.
Since The Sims 4 was released in September of last year, EA says its game saw 27.5 million marriages, but only 1.7 million divorces, a 6 percent rate — 34 percent lower than the U.S. average. So what’s behind all that happy matrimony? “When you’re playing The Sims, you’re paying a lot more attention and trying to make it work,” Rod Humble, former head of The Sims Studio tells Vice. Even if he’s right (are you really paying more attention to your video games than your spouse?), the answer might not be that simple.As it is for many people in real life, getting married is one of the game’s goals and gameplay marriage feels like winning while divorce feels like losing. But, unlike reality, The Sims keeps things consistently positive. You never have to grin through the bad jokes your father-in-law makes at your expense or trudge through the spouse’s carb-free cooking phase. “People aren’t going to get cancer,” Humble continues. “It’s an optimism simulator.”
While an optimism simulator for your actual marriage won’t go on sale any time soon, there might still be some takeaways from the game that are useful. For example, everything a Sim spouse wants and needs shows up in convenient progress bars for you to manage. Have you created an itemized list of incremental goals that will make your marriage happy? Because if you haven’t unlocked the put-away-all-the-dishes-before-she-gets-home achievement yet, consider your partner’s missing libido mystery solved.