Mxmtoon explains how ‘The Sims’ has helped her understand who she is

"Growing up, video games were a huge part of my experience with knowing who I was and feeling like I could shed any real-world perceptions"

In 2019, mxmtoon re-recorded her breakout song “Prom Dress’ in Simlish before going on to call it her “biggest cultural achievement”. Now she’s teaming back up with The Sims for a mammoth 24-hour livestream that will feature another of mxmtoon’s tracks reworked into Simlish – the poppy brilliance of ‘Sad Disco’ from second album ‘Rising’

Ahead of the stream, which kicks off here at 5pm BST today (June 24), mxmtoon told NME that it was “so fun to be involved in this project because The Sims was a huge part of my pandemic experience. Playing that game meant I could escape into a reality where I could do and be anything, at a time where nobody could do anything.”

Mxmtoon has been playing The Sims for longer than she can remember, is fluent in Simlish and has over 1000 hours racked up on The Sims 4, so this collaboration makes a lot of sense. She’s also just finished a headline tour across America. The musician-slash-streamer sees a combination of real-world and digital events very much being a part of her future. “That virtual element is all we’ve had for so long now. People have used it to find new ways to connect with other communities, as well as connecting with themselves. That’s not going anywhere.”

She goes on to say that music and gaming “offer an escapism that people really crave. Live gigs and virtual concerts are the same thing, just in a different font.”

The Sims was first released in 2000 (the same year mxmtoon was born) and has become one of the best-selling game franchises of all time, despite the core of the game remaining the same. “There are endless possibilities, even within the structure of the game,” says mxmtoon about The Sims’ long-running success. ”There’s a structure to guide you through the game but really, the game can be whatever you want it to be. It can be a design game where you hop on, make houses and customise Sims or it can be an actual simulation game where you’re making a family and raising children. There’s no other game that has a world built out that fully, that people can explore in as much depth,” she continues.

For mxmtoon and many others like her, The Sims “has always provided this outlet of exploration, to help understand myself a bit better.”

In her current game, she shies away from being a celebrity and updating her in-game followers constantly because that’s too much like real life. Instead, she’s able to toy at being a vet or a body-builder. “It’s obviously not 100 per cent accurate to the real-world experience but it’s fun to be able to think about what my life would look like if I did something completely different. I’m able to explore those questions in the game.”

mxmtoon's 'mona lisa' single art
Credit: Strut Entertainment

There was a time where mxmtoon’s love of designing houses in The Sims actually caused her to apply for an architecture major at university. She decided to pursue a career in music instead but The Sims “helps me understand something about myself that I might not have been able to otherwise. It definitely does affect people’s real-life decisions.”

“So much of my life has been positively influenced by games and the communities and friends that I’ve found through them. Growing up, video games were a huge part of my experience with knowing who I was and feeling like I could shed any real-world perceptions,” she continues. “It helped me realise I wasn’t just this teacher’s pet. I didn’t have to live up to the expectations of others. Gaming helped me realise I could be anything. I know a lot of young people are trying to figure out what they want to be, and it’s a scary thing to ask yourself ‘who are you?’. Having the freedom to explore that is important.”

Mxmtoon thinks The Sims is so popular because of the “safety” of it. “There is a lot of interaction with other players and it is truly what you make of it. You can customise literally every element of what you look like, who your partner is, what your house looks like and if you’re good or bad at your job. People really like the fact that no one’s judging them for their decisions. There’s no right or wrong way to play the game, It’s all about you and what you want to do.”

Of course, that means people have the chance to play the game as a werewolf, a ghost, a bodybuilder or a vet. But The Sims also lets people customise their own pronouns and create relationships outside of heteronormative ones.

“It’s important because it just normalises the experience for people. Growing up, I would romance another woman in The Sims and I would be like, ‘Oh my gosh, is this okay that I have a wife instead of a husband?’ And obviously it’s okay but The Sims was this amazing thing that I had access to, to help me understand that,” explains mxmtoon.

“My curiosity was clearly emblematic of a larger thing that I hadn’t discovered yet of being bisexual, but it was important for me to have that space to explore it and understand that yes, same sex marriage is a thing and it should be legalized,” she continues. “To just have those things in the game is really important to help normalise it for other people who might not necessarily be exposed to it all the time. I think any way that people find themselves represented and can express themselves is really powerful and important.”

You can catch mxmtoon’s Twitch stream here

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