When I have a stressful day, I don’t usually turn to the hot tub and glass of wine route. No yoga session will calm me down.
No, if my day has reached its peak stress level, there is only one thing I turn to. These days, I’m lighting a candle, setting up Chromecast, and streaming videos to build Sims 4 on YouTube on the biggest TV in my house.
As a fairly regular player of The Sims (read: I play for a manic period of a week, then I don’t touch it for six months, then I rinse and repeat) I like to think of myself as a decent builder. I can make functioning houses with funky decor. I once built a gym where you don’t have to watch anyone else while training (dream). I even built a functioning cemetery, where the departed Sims were honored with shrines in a mausoleum, and this is my greatest achievement.
But by no means will I claim to be a Sims Builder.
There are people – architectural geniuses – who can take the same tools available to everyone and create something amazing. From scattered castles to multi-level villages and intricate little houses, these players are dynamic, have an innate style and an immensely good sense of design. Not only that, but they are also landscape artists, with perfectly placed shrubs and terrain paints to make the place look real.
I am self-aware enough to know that it is undoubtedly beyond my own ability to make these masterpieces. But it’s fun to watch.
I’m not alone in this. The Sims community loves a good video to build, with some of the most popular YouTubers and Twitch streamers working in the construction space. With hundreds of thousands of subscribers, these videos routinely reach millions.
Get YouTuber SimLicy for example. With nearly 400,000 YouTube subscribers, her channel is home to soothing videos that have her story above the top, explaining not only what she did, but also how you can achieve it in the game. Its buildings are usually more traditional homes with titles like “Single Mother and 7 Children!” or “Fun Family Home!”
Want something more inspired than fantasy? Take a look SIM improved. From realistic adaptations of extensive pop culture settings (Kaer Morhen’s party is amazing) to water parks, giant castles, spaceships, fairytale mushroom villages and even the Spirited Away bathroom, every single thing that appears on her YouTube makes me I wonder if we even play the same game.
Then you have builders like DoctorAshley, which routinely mimics some of the largest and most stylish homes on platforms like Zillow in its Curb Appeal series. From floor plans and photos, she creates almost exact copies of the multimillion-dollar mansions in The Sims 4 on YouTube and Twitch – and each time they are not only magnificent, but also fully reproducible.
Her ability to recreate these homes is astounding, and it’s no wonder that her creations are so popular – it’s no exaggeration to say that these designs can take days and days of painstaking work, fine-tuning the details and experimenting with different arrangements. The best part? She also started as a video viewer to build.
“I started watching Sims create videos at university as a way to relieve the stress of exams and learning,” Ashley told CNET. “Shortly after I graduated, I desperately needed a creative outlet and decided to upload Sims build videos to YouTube to document my progress.”
This is a similar story for many Sims creators who are always looking for ideas. Aside from constantly checking real estate websites and commenting on yourself, “I could to do this” when you see a great house (just me?), Building videos are some of the easiest places to draw inspiration.
“Construction videos are also a calmer genre of content that people can easily put in the background to keep them company while they do housework,” Ashley said. “I grew up watching a lot of HGTV interior design shows with my mother, so I’ve always had a common interest in architecture and interior design.”
Doing the actual work of doing these compilations yourself would be terribly stressful if it wasn’t your jam, but there’s something so incredibly reassuring about seeing it play out in front of you.
It’s like my version of watching elite athletes dominate their chosen sport – I will never do Produnova (called the “vault of death” for a reason), but I could watch Deepa Carmakar land like this in the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
You can even consider it a type of ASMR. Hearing the story while watching a house slowly come together just tickles the right side of my brain. It is an audio-visual pleasure for the senses.
And look, it works for me. That’s all that really matters when it comes down to it. When I put them on, my whole body relaxes. It’s procedural, soothing, has a final end result and involves a lot of creativity and problem solving. Who could ask for more?
The videos for building The Sims 4 may not be your cup of tea, but it’s the kind of tea I’d like a full pool with – ideally without anyone rubbing the ladder on me.