You've probably heard or read about it at some point, if only the name. A video game making world-wide success like The Sims-series did is difficult to miss. However, it's not impossible and here I'll try to answer to the best of my abilities what The Sims is and what it's about.
In short, The Sims (1-4) is a life simulator game. Well, what is a life simulator game?
It's a program that's built to simulate life and puts you in control of one or several digital life forms that you can control and/or take care of. In the case with The Sims, you create and control people called sims in a world similar to ours and lead them through their everyday lives as a form of invisible guide or deity.
A couple of wolves (dogs designed to look like wolves) in The Sims 3 with the expansions Pets and Seasons. Screenshot by Mitchika
Sims have their own will and will try to act and do things on their own, but it's something that you can directly control, influence, stop or even turn off in certain games. They'll obey your commands without question, unless it's impossible for them to do so or in case their needs are too low. Sims have needs like Hunger and Energy and if the needs are low, the sim in question will refuse certain orders until the needs are taken care of.
A teenage sim checking himself out in the mirror in The Sims 2 Ultimate Collection. His hair is custom content. Screenshot by Mitchika
Guide them through their lives, Help them with their needs, careers, wishes, friends, host parties, Help them find love and maybe even start a family. Or you can simply sit there in silence and watch your sims take care of themselves, see how long they'll make it without your guiding hand or even take it a step further. Lock them in rooms, remove their sources of food and comfort and watch them suffer slowly and painfully until they die and the Grim Reaper comes to collect their souls.
A very big part of the game is the building and decorating features. You can build houses for your sims to live in from scratch or you can change and modify already existing lots in the game. You decide everything from the size and shape of the houses and rooms to the color of the wallpaper and what kind of sink they'll have to wash their dishes in.
A classic cooking fire in The Sims 1 with expansions. Print screen by Mitchika.
It's a virtual doll house that you can change and shape in almost any way you like. Different games have different options.
In The Sims 2, you can create your own neighborhoods using pre-existing templates, decorate it, place lots and build homes and community lots and move in your families. In The Sims 3, you can create and shape your own worlds (very similar to neighborhoods in The Sims 2) from scratch using a free program called Create a World that was made for The Sims 3. It requires time and patience in order to learn the CAW-tool, but once you master it, it's a ton of fun.
A ghost and his lover in The Sims 3, using custom content and several expansions. Screenshot by Mitchika
I hope this short little article could shed some light on what The Sims is. If you still have questions about the game, feel free to post them here in the article or check out more of the articles here on the site for even more information.
I will end this article with a quote from the back of the original The Sims 2 game case (which is true from The Sims 2 and onward, since the sims don't die of old age in the first game):
"They're born. They die. What happens in between is up to you."