Insa Birkenhagen analyses the never-ending debate that has characterised the gaming world in the past decade: which game is better between The Sims and Minecraft.
It is the year 2009, people are wearing skinny jeans and rocking side parts, Barack Obama is elected as the US president for the first time, and two of the most momentous phenomena of the following decade emerge. The Sims 3 and Minecraft will proceed to glue people all around the world to their monitors and later initiate the never-ending Reddit thread on which takes the crown as the better game.
While it was already the third edition of The Sims, Minecraft was still in its baby shoes in 2009. It would take another two years, until in November 2011, that the full version of the game was released and with it, its fundamental features. Creative Mode, Survival, Inventory and Crafting are just a few terms within this universe that is Minecraft. For those who lived their adolescence in the 2010s, it was more than just a game. People had their own servers, they traded cheat codes for money and crunched the numbers on which Mod packs to buy. With no narrative or set goal, but an ever-changing algorithm of landscapes and challenges, one could spend a lifetime playing and the multiplayer feature even made it a group effort. The community was huge, on YouTube as well, and with PewDiePie and Co., Minecraft actually contributed to the first Primetime of the platform. But there was something missing. Sure, you could build houses all you want, castles, malls, dungeons, but within these pixelated bricks there wasn’t really anything happening.
For those who lived their adolescence in the 2010s, it was more than just a game. People had their own servers, they traded cheat codes for money and crunched the numbers on which Mod packs to buy.
If you wanted to tell a story, you would play The Sims. The goofy characters and green diamonds were invented for those with an interest not only for the house, but for the home within. The Sims spoke to those who have played house religiously as child, kept an interior Pinterest board for the longest time and treasured the seasonal Ikea catalogue as their personal bible. Much like the iPhone however, it wasn’t until the third version that The Sims reached its full potential. With the open world concept or the Iconic colour wheel, The Sims 3 was one for the books, being EA’s best-selling game to date. It was 20 bucks for the base game and buckets of money for the 19 expansions to follow - but it was worth every penny. Not only can you build houses and lose yourself in the detail of decorative clutter, but also build a social structure within this world of yours. Between Sims of every age group, ethnicity, sexuality and, as for May 2022 also gender, the possibilities of interaction are endless. You can have a career, raise children, sing karaoke, or – when you’re exceptionally bored – drown your Sim in the pool.
The Sims spoke to those who have played house religiously as child, kept an interior Pinterest board for the longest time and treasured the seasonal Ikea catalogue as their personal bible.
Though Minecraft and The Sims are both so-called Sandbox games, meaning they would allow the player to explore and interact with the world in a nonlinear fashion, there is an important distinction to make within their respective range of possibilities. Minecraft is a heroic quest, a straightforward narrative not only in survival but also in creative mode. The world of Minecraft appears without limits and keeps unfolding in an extroverted manner. There is always a higher building one can build, one can always dig deeper and if you’re bored you can just go on to the next alternating landscape. The Sims on the other hand, presents with an inverted infinity; the innumerable possibilities consist of the connections and combinations of what is already given and would end with the ultimate intertwinement. When playing The Sims, you collect storylines of all kinds and the suspense lies within the simultaneity and detail of the everyday.
The world of Minecraft appears without limits and keeps unfolding in an extroverted manner. [...] The Sims on the other hand, presents with an inverted infinity; the innumerable possibilities consist of the connections and combinations of what is already given and would end with the ultimate intertwinement
In the ever-evolving gaming industry, The Sims and Minecraft are both deeply established as a continuously expanding franchise. Founded upon distinct aesthetics and gameplay, they both leave a sustainable impression on their players and accompany them through their adolescence into adulthood. The respective communities are similarly devoted and relentlessly contribute to the progression of their corresponding domain, creating Custom Content. Although each fanbase has a strong preference for one or the other game, there is a mutual appreciation nonetheless. Content creators of The Sims, for instance, frequently take reference from the iconic brick aesthetic and there are also numerous mod packs to implement features of The Sims to one’s Minecraft gameplay. There is even a conversation within the fandom, requesting a mix between the two games, for they ultimately can’t argue the perks of the opponent. Much like LEGO and Playmobil, Minecraft and The Sims might generate a division within a peer group; however, on occasion, both sides don’t really mind playing with either.