What you need to know is that Jessica Williams contains multitudes. She’s a comedy pioneer, she’s one of the high priestesses of podcasting, she’s the star of this year’s The Incredible Jessica James, and—wait for it—she plays The Sims for a minimum of five hours a week. It’s this last detail that she wanted to talk about in advance of the new Sims game release.
Unsurprisingly, the former Daily Show and current 2 Dope Queens star raises her Sims to be just as badass as she is—women focused on their careers who, unlike most Sims, escape the trappings of accidentally catching on fire or pissing themselves more often than not. Sims novices, take some notes from a player who’s been in the game for as long as the damn game has existed.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Paste: How long have you been into The Sims?
Jessica Williams: I’ve been with it since The Sims 1, since I was ten or something like that. I think I was in the perfect demographic when it first came out, like girls between nine and fourteen. I’ve played every version since the first one. It’s this weird, nice thru-line in my life.
Paste: What’s your play style?
Williams: Ambitious career wise, I think. Often I’m throwing my Sims into a career, and they’re always women of color. I don’t really get into the families, not trying to take care of kids. Sims aren’t even that good at taking care of kids, but I love going to work with them and building them a life.
Paste: Has your play style changed over the years?
Williams: It’s sort of the same, actually. I play The Sims when I’m not busy working, but it’s one of the only games I play so I haven’t become a better gamer girl or anything like that.
Paste: How often do you play on average?
Williams: I have big dreams in these games, so when I do play I play for four or five hours. Sometimes I’ll just be playing while my boyfriend sits next to me watching Scrubs reruns or whatever. Whenever I have time, whenever I’m not working.
Paste: What’s the best Sims storyline you’ve ever made? Spare no detail.
Williams: Oh, okay, so at one point I made a Sims apartment where there were five different women. One is a blue alien who has romantic aspirations and everyone keeps finding out, and she’s kind of shy. So every time she starts to get close to someone, they find out she’s an alien and that’s one thing. Then I made this one Sim who’s just deviant, and she’s fun. She’s a klepto and aspires to be a crime lord. I wanted to make her a vampire, so I had her befriend an old vampire. It took so long to get that to work out because he was all snobby, but when they went out to a park together he, like, caught on fire and died. That’s not her fault, that’s the game’s fault, but I was like man. I put a lot of work into that one.
I like giving the Sims careers, too. One of them is a klepto but she’s a police officer, and I like going to work with her and seeing that. I made one a chef, and that works because she’ll cook at the house without you telling her to, and that’s good for everyone. The girl who’s an alien and wants love is a scientist, and I get to see her do experiments.
Paste: You’re a big Roller Coaster Tycoon fan, as well. What’s more stressful, playing Sims or Roller Coaster Tycoon?
Williams: There is something very soothing about Roller Coaster Tycoon. I love building and sort of seeing something be built before your eyes is very cool and calming. I play The Sims way more, though—I love micromanaging, and that’s what The Sims is all about. You get to micromanage every part of their lives and they need you to.
Paste: What’s the most fucked up thing you’ve ever done to your Sims?
Williams: I don’t mess with them, I take care of my Sims. Although I respect that, it’s sort of cool to see people dick around with their Sims just because they can. But for me, I feel it’s my duty on some level to give them a happy life. I don’t have any pets or any kids. I don’t have any dependents, you know? So the least I can do is give my Sims a nice life.
Paste: If at all, are there any lessons from The Sims applicable to real life?
Williams: When I first moved to New York, I was pretty depressed. I’d moved quickly, and it was a big environment change and everything was unfamiliar, so I was getting depressed. Even though I’m depressed I’m playing The Sims and rewatching Buffy the Vampire Slayer so it’s something familiar. And it helped me, too, I think. Like, sure, I’m depressed, but if I’m making sure my Sim showers, I have to make sure that I shower. If I’m trying to give my Sims their best life in their 20s, then I should be having my best life in my 20s.
Jamie Loftus is a comedian and writer. You can find her some of the time, most days at @hamburgerphone or jamieloftusisinnocent.com.