Outdoor Living is indoor living, just outdoors

An empty backyard is a blank slate for artistry.

I have all the Stuff and Expansion Packs to The Sims 2. But The Sims 3 gave us so much, I did not have the power of persuasion to get my mum to buy me all the packs. Besides, it seems that the Stuff Packs got so diluted it made no sense to buy them anymore – they were just a waste of money. (By the way, I never really got the gist of The Sims 3 Store).

There are several things I missed that were introduced in TS3, the Outdoor Living Stuff Pack being one of them. And I’m glad I didn’t get that one. It seems entirely, totally, absolutely useless. And it goes against my ethics of having every possible space in my Sims’ houses infested with plants and otherwise green stuff.

The only reflection I have after watching the pre-release trailer of Outdoor Living is that ‘outdoor living’, in the conception of the pack’s designers, is the same as indoor living – just outdoors.

The trailer encourages the player to ‘build the perfect outdoor setting’, ‘set the mood’ and ‘give your Sims luxurious outdoor living’ by having ‘the ultimate BBQ’, dressing in ‘chic attire’ and ‘relaxing under the stars’. Now, let’s hope the fumes from your Sim-SUV don’t dim the brightness of the stars by producing a thick layer of smoke that you would get in real life.

With the pack, you get ‘stylish furnishings’, ‘stylish new hot tubs’, ‘outdoor electronics’ and ‘all new outdoor kitchens’ – so that you can recreate your indoor life outside the walls. The emphasis is on ‘stylish’, so that not only your guests are impressed, but also your rude neighbours. They will inevitably peak through the fence after hearing your all-new hi-fi outdoor audio set, and get green from jealousy when they see your super cozy fire pit and smell the courgette burgers you’ve cooked on your elegant BBQ.

See, when I hear ‘outdoor living’, I imagine birdwatching, bugwatching, gardening, skinny dipping, and perhaps some new interactions with foliage (not sure exactly what, let me know if you have ideas). Anything that lets you engage more deeply with the Great Outdoors.

If you want a more modern-American touch, think: angling, fishing, hunting, and camping. I guess something in the gist of The Sims 4: Outdoor Adventure.

But The Sims 3 once again (retrospectively) proves its inferiority in the whole The Sims franchise. It’s bland, uncreative, materialistic, and still too much resemblant of Play-Doh.

Now, I might be biased. I spent too much time in the actual outdoors, whether building wooden bunks or hunting for slugs to protect patches of organic cabbage in the Welsh nowherehood. The outdoors has very different connotations to me than to a suburban American who was never taught to know better. Outdoor Living supports seeing The Sims as an American-centred product, revolving around the ideas of life formed in the late-c20 white American suburb.


Published by kotersey

Graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a First in geography, and from the University of Brighton with a Master's in history of design and material culture. Probably drinking iced coffee and thinking about buildings.

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