The entire Sims franchise is designed to create experiences that simulate life. From The Sims to The Sims 4, changes and additions have been made to create an immersive and realistic gameplay experience - even with the addition of magic and Star Wars lore. Outside the traditional "traits" system that players can use to determine their Sim's personality, The Sims 4 introduced the "emotions" mechanic that changes a Sim's emotional state. With the development of The Sims 5 - aka "Project Rene" - The Sims' gameplay could be made more realistic by adding mental health mechanics.

While Sims can get sick, die, and experience the natural effects of aging, their mental and emotional states are relatively predictable. Although The Sims 4: Get to Work introduced an interactive medical career that simulates a variety of illnesses, there is no actual need to keep track of a Sim's overall health. Given the franchise's commitment to realistic gameplay, it makes sense to add a layer of gameplay in The Sims 5 that keeps track of a Sim's mental health and introduces a variety of mental health conditions and healthy habits.

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How Sims 5 Mental Health Mechanics Could Build On Existing Franchise Elements

Angry Sims From The Sims 4

While The Sims franchise has never had explicit mental health mechanics, certain traits, emotions, or needs can be manipulated to change a Sim's mental state. For instance, in The Sims 4, the "Gloomy," "Hot-Headed," and "Erratic" traits appear to have been added to simulate mental health conditions that affect a Sim's daily life. Specific mental effects appear with low needs. In The Sims 2, if a Sim's social need hits zero, a hallucinatory bunny will appear, and other Sims will become concerned. In The Sims 3, low social needs create a "Desolate" status, compelling the Sim to talk to objects.

In The Sims 4, Sims can feel emotions like fear, embarrassment, and grief for Sims who have died - although these emotional states never particularly correlate to active gameplay. While adding mental health needs might seem like a big jump for The Sims, the franchise already has built-in mechanics that would tie in nicely. For instance, The Sims 2: University introduced a psychology degree track that could be reintroduced in The Sims 5 with a new therapy career path. In The Sims 4, Sims can gravitate to specific activities that can become hobbies, creating a natural rhythm for self-care and habit-building.

How The Sims 5 Could Create More Immersive Gameplay With Mental Health Mechanics


Although very few details are known about The Sims 5, adding mental health mechanics would greatly benefit existing gameplay. For instance, The Sims 5 could add a new "stress" need that could fluctuate based on a Sim's schedule, personal life, and habits. For instance, a teenage Sim with a busy schedule might become anxious, either giving the Sim a new "anxious" moodlet or the "Squeamish" or "Paranoid" traits that already exist. An elderly Sim who lives alone could receive a new "depressed" moodlet that builds on the "Sad" and "Lonely" traits. In this way, The Sims 5 could add specific elements that could echo mental health conditions in video games as they appear in the real world.

With the addition of mental health mechanics, The Sims 5 could create opportunities for players to help their Sims work through their mental health struggles. Sims could schedule therapy sessions, use text-based therapy, or go to peer therapy groups. Pets could become therapy-certified, allowing for memorable interactions. Sims could also have favorite hobbies or self-care routines that could improve their mental health. It would also be great for Sims to talk to each other about their mental health, offering knowledge to younger Sims or support to older Sims. Adding mental health mechanics to The Sims 5 could also encourage positive growth for players outside the game.

The Sims 5 is in development.

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