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The Sims: Why we love it!

When I was a kid, I enjoyed playing computer games every now and then. Most of the time you would have found me on a screen that looked like this:

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SimCity.

I loved the creative process of building an entire city from my imagination. The game gave you guidelines and financial limits to work with, which made the game a challenge at times, but overall I just loved the idea of building something. Of course most of the time, the game ended in me destroying everything I had created by the natural disaster of my choosing, which then meant that I would get to start all over again!

When I was in high school, the same game designer that made SimCity, Will Wright, developed a similar game called “The Sims.”

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This game turned out to be very successful and several versions were made over the next few years. I was so busy with other things in high school that I didn’t play many computer games, so I never really got into “The Sims.” But I had heard of it, seen it, and had many friends who would talk about nothing else but what they were doing on it. I’m sure if I had had the time, I would have gotten into it as well.

For those who may not be familiar, the game is a strategic life simulation game of the daily activities of one or more virtual persons (“Sims”) in a suburban household near SimCity. You create a virtual person with whom you can assign a daily schedule of work, sleep, eating, dating, etc. You build the world around this virtual person and enjoy the experiences that you invent for them.

A few years ago I saw a member of my family playing The Sims. I started to think about why it is that people love this game. I concluded that there are many different reasons, but only one which I want to discuss here.

People love to create.

The Sims is a platform that allows people to create things. One of those things that can be created is a house. A player who plays this game has the opportunity to build a house for their virtual person. Using the simple game 3D interface, you can build the floor plan complete with bedrooms, bathrooms, furniture, appliances, a garage, an outside yard, and many other features.

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You could make a simple, small house…

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Or build yourself a mansion…

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Or hey, even put a UFO landing platform on your roof!

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The point is, people like being able to build something from their own creative mind. And with the very user-friendly interface on The Sims, it makes it simple enough so people can have fun and not get hung up with complications of their house details.

As I contemplate my business idea, Connect Home Design, I imagine creating a website not that different from the user-friendly interface of The Sims. Anyone can get on any time and build the house they’ve always dreamed of. I honestly think that if this type of website were available, people would use it as a platform to spill out all their ideas for the home they’ve always wanted, and put it all together. And then, when they were ready, they could take their designs and hand it over to a professional to make the real plans.

Sometimes it’s easier to do things if you approach it like a game… 🙂

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www.homestyler.com

Last year in college I discovered www.homestyler.com. Out of all the research I have done, this is exactly the kind of website I would like to create for my business idea, www.connecthomedesign.com. On homestyler’s website, anyone can get on and click “start designing,” and let their imagination take over. It may or may not be realistic, but you can create a floor plan of your dream home; how many rooms and where you want them, your kitchen, your garage, your bedrooms, how many floors, etc.

Here’s something I did in about 15 minutes on homestyler: http://www.homestyler.com/designprofile/80d35270-b8e1-4c29-b740-97a6c187da30

It’s not much, and certainly not to scale, but it is simple enough to get my design ideas across. If you spend a lot of time on it, you can come out with a pretty good looking house. Created from scratch. From your imagination.

I know I enjoy fiddling around with tools like this as I envision the home I would like to one day build, and homestyler has been the easiest and most user friendly website I have encountered.

There’s just one thing missing from homestyler that I think makes all the difference….

Reality.

It’s fun to doodle to your hearts content. But what if someone actually wanted to take their doodles and make something of them?

Wouldn’t it be neat to add a big button on the top of the screen on homestyler’s website somewhere that said: “Connect with architect”?

You click that button and a window opens up on your screen. You see the face of an architect appear via webcam who can see you and what you’re drawing. You can talk to him about what you’ve drawn and he can give you his own suggestions, tips, and ideas. From these sketches and digital drawings, your architect can make real floor plans and real construction documents.

Next thing you know, you’ve got plans ready to give to a home builder.

Next thing you know… You’re home is built.

I just think that would be really cool.

Thoughts?

Designing Your Dream Home

I think if you were to ask anybody if they would like to design their own “Dream Home” some day, they would probably say yes.

I know I would.

How many times have you walked into someone else’s house and seen the  kitchen, or the layout of the rooms, or how big the garage is, or even a trap-door that goes behind a bookshelf that leads to the kid’s playroom, and thought how clever those designs were, and how you would love to do something similar? I know that most of the ideas I have and want to implement in my future “Dream Home” I have borrowed from someone else. How cool it would be to be able to design that house on my own and put all my ideas into it.

There is a problem, though. I don’t know how. I suppose I could get a paper and pencil to write down the things I’ve seen, or my own ideas, and maybe even try to sketch out my own designs. But that’s about all I could do. And that’s exactly what people do.

My family lives in Alaska on a mountain side. It’s pretty remote, and very beautiful, so there are a lot of people who end up going up there to build their own homes. The few that I have talked to seem to express the same frustration in the home building process which is making the designs. To get your design ideas across to an architect, you have to draw on pieces of paper and meet up with that architect frequently until finally the architect has created for you a digital replication of what he or she has deciphered from your doodles and your explanations. And even then, a lot of things are wrong or different than what you imagined.

Another observation I have made is that a lot of the people that I know who finally get to design and build their dream home are parents who are in their late 40’s, 50’s, or higher. The kids are older and most are gone out of the house. The dream home is finally done, but there is no more family to enjoy it with, besides visits during the summer or Christmas. I suppose that people find they have more TIME and MONEY to be able to finally build their dream home at that age. What career father and children-raising mother has time to draw out designs and meet up with an architects to design their dream home and then build it amongst everything else they have to do! Probably not many.

I feel like the whole process takes too long and gets to be too expensive. I’m 26 years old and would love to be able to start this process soon and have time to enjoy our dream home with my kids as they grow up.

Has anyone else felt this same way before? Has anyone else wanted to build their dream home some day, but just have no idea how? Or lack the money or the time? Maybe the more important question is: For those that have designed and built their own homes, was the process of designing and building your home a painful one? Maybe too expensive? Really exhausting?

I would love to hear some feedback from those that have either thought about this before, or those who have gone through this process before. Feel free to leave comments!