Sharing My Love For (Plus 9 Fun Facts About) The Sims

If you read mental_floss with any regularity, you already know that I get easily addicted to certain types of video games. My husband can't get enough of FIFA Soccer '08 for the Wii. I'm so not interested in games like that. Or games like Call of Duty. But I'm scarily obsessed with Guitar Hero, Rock Band and World of Warcraft. And during my freshman year of college, long before any of those games came about, I was holed up in my dorm room playing The Sims.

Creator Will Wright says the game is like having a virtual dollhouse to play with. And he's absolutely right. But it's strange that I like The Sims so much, because I never liked playing with dolls. (In fact, I find them rather terrifying.) At first, it was just fun building houses and decorating them. Then I got into the positively addicting habit of making and naming Sims after people I knew. It was fun to see if the Sim versions of us would interact like we did in real life. Plus it was always fun to kill your friends off. "Hey, Courtney, I accidentally built a room with no door around your Sim and it starved to death. Sorry about that." This might mean I have psychotic tendencies. Whatever. Also, with my love of trivia, I liked finding Easter eggs and inside jokes scattered throughout the game, such as the "See Me, Feel Me" pinball machine.

Of course, just when the fun of the Sims was starting to wear off, Maxis started rolling out with the expansion packs. And you'd better believe I bought all of them.

Livin' Large was the first expansion pack and added more objects and careers.
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"¢ House Party added rave-like objects like a lighted dance floor, a mechanical bull, a go-go cage and a DJ booth. If you have a rockin' party (enough people, enough food, etc.), Drew Carey might show up. You can't talk to him or anything, though, you can only watch him work the crowd and talk on his cell phone. If you're having a boring party, a mime shows up and annoys your guests until they all leave.

Hot Date allowed your Sims to, well, go on Hot Dates. This was especially fun for messing with your real-life friends.

Vacation allowed Sims to take skiing holidays and camping trips (among other destinations).

Unleashed introduced the world of pets.

Superstar was one of my favorites. You could become an actor or singer and become celebrities, complete with groupies. If you are good enough to win a "Simmy", Marilyn Monroe hops out of a limo and presents you with an award.

"¢ I thought I would really like Makin' Magic, an expansion pack that capitalized on the Harry Potter trend by letting Sims cast spells and make potions and brews. But it was, eh, only OK.

More Sims trivia:
1) NPCs (non-player characters) included the Grim Reaper, Santa Claus, the Tragic Clown (ugh), strippers (yup), Avril Lavigne, Andy Warhol, Christina Aguilera, Cameron Diaz, Jon Bon Jovi, Sarah McLachlan and a Genie. vamp reaper

2) Sim teens get zits if their hygiene levels drop.

3) Social workers will come and take away babies if your Sim isn't caring for them properly.

4) The NPC character Mortimer Goth is most likely based on Vincent Price.

5) Depending on how many expansion packs you have, you can become a ghost, a vampire, a zombie or a werewolf. Oh, you can also be abducted by aliens.

6) In The Sims 2, Sims can get pregnant (prior to the Sims 2, if your Sim has a baby it just magically appears. Hmm). The action "Try for a Baby" is available when your Sim is in a changing booth, a car, a photo booth or cuddling in a bed or a hot tub. Male Sims can get pregnant if they are abducted by aliens.alien
7) The babble-language that all Sims speak is called "Simish".

8) In The Sims 2, your Sim could be randomly struck and killed by a satellite falling from the sky. This is pretty rare, but it does happen.

9) There is a Sims movie in the works, which I am kind of uncomfortable with.

Anyway, at some point my PC crashed and I ended up getting a Mac. Being a poor college student, I really wasn't up for buying everything over again for the Mac. So I fell out of my Sims habit. I did eventually get The Sims 2 for the Mac, but I guess my addiction just burned itself out. Until now.

A couple of weekends ago I got My Sims for the Wii. It's really similar to Animal Crossing, if you've ever played that. You're in charge of a town and everything that goes with it. When a new NPC moves in, instead of going to Target like every normal person would, the Sim comes to you and asks you to build them a bed. Well, after you build their house, that is. One Sim (Sir Vincent) asked me to build him a museum. I did, and then he said that UPS had lost all of his displays, so could I build him a sarcophagus?
vincent

I was more than happy to help, and when it was complete he said something like, "Wonderful! I can't even tell the difference between this and the real thing! ...and neither will my customers." Shady Sims. You just can't trust them.

Well, are there any other Sims addicts out there? Bella Goth fans? Am I hopelessly outdated?

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Feeling Down? Lifting Weights Can Lift Your Mood, Too
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There’s plenty of research that suggests that exercise can be an effective treatment for depression. In some cases of depression, in fact—particularly less-severe ones—scientists have found that exercise can be as effective as antidepressants, which don’t work for everyone and can come with some annoying side effects. Previous studies have largely concentrated on aerobic exercise, like running, but new research shows that weight lifting can be a useful depression treatment, too.

The study in JAMA Psychiatry, led by sports scientists at the University of Limerick in Ireland, examined the results of 33 previous clinical trials that analyzed a total of 1877 participants. It found that resistance training—lifting weights, using resistance bands, doing push ups, and any other exercises targeted at strengthening muscles rather than increasing heart rate—significantly reduced symptoms of depression.

This held true regardless of how healthy people were overall, how much of the exercises they were assigned to do, or how much stronger they got as a result. While the effect wasn’t as strong in blinded trials—where the assessors don’t know who is in the control group and who isn’t, as is the case in higher-quality studies—it was still notable. According to first author Brett Gordon, these trials showed a medium effect, while others showed a large effect, but both were statistically significant.

The studies in the paper all looked at the effects of these training regimes on people with mild to moderate depression, and the results might not translate to people with severe depression. Unfortunately, many of the studies analyzed didn’t include information on whether or not the patients were taking antidepressants, so the researchers weren’t able to determine what role medications might play in this. However, Gordon tells Mental Floss in an email that “the available evidence supports that [resistance training] may be an effective alternative and/or adjuvant therapy for depressive symptoms that could be prescribed on its own and/or in conjunction with other depression treatments,” like therapy or medication.

There haven’t been a lot of studies yet comparing whether aerobic exercise or resistance training might be better at alleviating depressive symptoms, and future research might tackle that question. Even if one does turn out to be better than the other, though, it seems that just getting to the gym can make a big difference.

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