One day a In 2014, musician AJ Luca, 32, sent a message to her friend with sad and shocking news. “Gina Marie’s mom,” the message began, “just died on the kitchen floor.” Immediately, without hesitation, Luca’s friend responded with his condolences. Gina Marie’s mother, Marie LaRosa, was a successful businesswoman who founded a large tourism company with her husband. He died suddenly, of old age, while cooking. Gina Marie took over the family business after the death of her parents. And this all makes sense, none of it is strange, if you ignore the fact that Gina Marie and her mother are Sims.
It’s safe to say that New Jersey-based Luca has always been invested in his Sims. Her (real-life) friend immediately knew what Luca’s text about Marie LaRosa meant and sent her condolences, even though Marie was just a bunch of pixels in one of the best-selling video game series of all time . “My husband and parents are on first names with my Sims,” says Luca, “I talk about them like they’re human.” Catching up with the family at night, Luca might say something like, “Cash Covington married Alysha today!”
Gina Marie and her mother were characters that Luca created the sims 3but when he bought a laptop for gaming The Sims 4 in 2017, he started a new family: The Holts. Primary school teacher Amy O’Grady married detective Jon Holt, and together they had five children: master painter Sadie, computer programmer Jon David, celebrity athlete Bobby, pro-gamer Paul and veterinarian Andrea. Today, Amy and Jon have eight grandchildren. All it took was five years of Luca’s life.
For half a decade, Luca has been playing with the Sims family itself, which has expanded through marriage to include the Covingtons and the McDermotts. As someone who has never played with the same Sim for more than a week (and as someone who has forced more than one Sim to swim to their death), I am fascinated by Luca’s gameplay, and the Professor’s gameplay 21 year old substitute. Shannon, who also lives in New Jersey.
Shannon (who declined to give her last name for privacy reasons) has been playing with the same Sims family for seven years. Although Luca periodically disables the game’s aging feature so Jon and Amy Holt don’t die, Shannon doesn’t, meaning the first man and wife of his Sims family, John and Laura Jones, are long dead. “She got electrocuted while fixing the dishwasher, I still remember it,” Shannon says of Laura’s death, “it was very sad.”
There are now 11 generations of Joneses. Shannon uses the (non-Sims related) ancestry app Quick Family Tree to keep track of her characters and also shares the family’s progress on her social media accounts @simmingshannon. Here viewers leave comments like, “Why did I get moved by this.” Not surprisingly, Shannon herself is emotionally attached to her Sims.
“I always take pictures of them, and I have this huge wall in their house that is full of family photos from every generation. It’s emotional, you get a little attached,” says Shannon. She calls playing The Sims an “escape” and “a way to explore different parts of life in a safe space before going out into the real world.” In the future , the real world, hopes to have a large family of his own.