Keep Calm and Play the Sims

Bibi Kok
Practice Autonomous Practices
Project Critical Studies
Major Illustration
Year Fourth Year

I have started this project with researching my fascination for quotes as ‘Live the life you love’ or ‘Be happy’. To be frank: I am jealous of people who use these quotes as the words to live by.

If only I could live my life by a catchy one-liner! 

During my research, I have noticed a whole industry is built around these sentences. In my project, I call this ‘de zingevingseconomie’ or ‘the economy of meaning’. In this industry the essence of Your True Happiness (!) is captured in a bottle you can directly order at, so to speak. With enough money, the answers to one’s happiness, success or anything else you can think of can be just one google search away.

With my project, I used the computer game De Sims to criticise this economy. I copied their visual language but used Sims as a ready-made structure to make my own versions of it. The fun thing is that De Sims is spoken in Simlish, a gibberish fictional language with no real alphabet or possible translation, meaning the quotes aren’t readable.


The 'sentences' in Simlish are added to the visual language originally used and suddenly you don’t feel as attracted to a model lounging on the beach on the cover of a magazine since she is a Sim.

For me, the best thing about this is that Sims is already mimicking the life we live. The game is set in a Western, capitalist society where from the day you’re born you are forced to give your own life (or your Sim’s life) a meaning. Self-actualisation is an assignment from day one. “Keep calm and play The Sims.”

Visit Bibi's website to find out what she is up to now.