Carl's Sims 3 Guide - Skills, Traits, Careers, Rewards, and Lifetime Wishes for Ambitions and World Adventures

How to Play the Sims 3

Help for New Players to Learn What to Do in the Game

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This Sims 3 Guide was originally written for the PC and Mac versions of the game, but also will help owners of the console versions - PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii. Please remember some info or numbers may have changed.

A In this guide, I'll teach new players how to play and "what to do" in the Sims 3. I won't go over all the controls, as they're in the manual. What I really want to cover here, is just what you're "supposed" to do in the Sims 3, to help newbie gamers who have started a game and stared blankly at the screen wondering what the point of the game is. So, at that, let's get down to business.

What's the Goal/Objective of the Sims 3? What do you do in this game?
The goal is generally defined by you and how you choose to play. When you make a Sim, and choose their lifetime wish, that usually will determine to some degree how they live their lives. For example, if your Sim wants to be a sports star, they should work out to build their athletics skill, and take a job in the sports career track.

Other goals can be found by completing player-made challenges. Some people like to make a legacy. They start with one Sim and, following a set of rules, spread that Sim's bloodline down through ten generations or more. Some players are content to play a Sim whose goal is as simple as being successful, and happy. No one can really tell you what to do, it's about living each Sim day in and out, while working toward a goal.

Creating a Sim
After you've loaded the neighborhood screen, you're ready to make your first Sim. If it's your first time playing, I recommend you make it a family of one Sim. There are a lot of options to customize Sims' appearances, but I'll focus on the gameplay aspects of the choices you can make in Create a Sim. Appearance generally doesn't matter. Even obese Sims can eventually come to excel in athletics, for example. They'll just get fit along the way. The major difference between Sims comes in the form of traits and lifetime wishes.

Your Sim will get to choose, from a selection of 60+, a total of five traits. These will determine what your Sim is good at, how they behave, and what they like and dislike. The five of them together will determine a selection of lifetime wishes you can pursue. The lifetime wish is the major goal any one Sim wants to complete before death. It will strongly govern how you play the game. There are a total of 32 lifetime wishes that can be selected, so there's a lot of different goals to seek.

Favorite food and music can give Sims a mood boost when they eat that type of food and it's done right or listen to that particular music on the radio. Favorite colors give Sims a mood boost whenever they are in a room of the same color. This enhances the 'decorated' moodlets (thanks Jordi).

In some ways, this creation process will help determine how you play The Sims 3, and what your Sims will do with their spare time, and where they'll work. A smart, logical Sim might be best at playing in chess, and might even try to become grand master. An angler may want to pursue Fishing. As you can see, The Sims 3 is an infinitely replayable game as there are so many ways you can play!

Building or Buying a House for your Sims
The choice of whether to buy a house or build one from the ground up is the first big decision you'll make in The Sims 3. The house choice will be limited if you decide to buy, as there aren't too many that are within the 16,000 price range of a single Sim. I really recommend you build your Sim's home. It's more satisfying to watch your Sim's house evolve when you've built it yourself. To build a house, buy an empty lot then click the check mark to start playing immediately.

Building the House
Enter build mode with F3. Make four walls, and give the Sim a decent amount of room to live in. You could head to buy mode (F2) to get a look at how big certain furniture is to get a good idea. Don't worry, if the house is too small you can always resize it later. Ensure that the floors are carpeted (it's helpful to click fill or paint contiguous area to the left of the tile and carpet selections). Also put wallpaper on the walls. This will ensure your Sim doesn't get disgusted by an unfinished room.

Place doors, 1 at the entrance to your house and one to the bathroom and bedroom if they're in separate rooms (and hopefully they are). Sims will also need windows to light their homes in the daytime. Place at least one in every room (maybe except the bedroom, at first).

The last step is to look to the roof to resize it and ensure the style looks good with your building. After you mess with the roof, you may need to press page down a couple of times, and bring the walls back to auto-hide (done with the home and end keys).

For more detailed information on not only making your Sim's home, but also making it look good, head over to TommyT's Sims 3 Home Building Guide.

Buy Mode
Press F2 to enter the Sims 3's buy mode. Decorations really aren't needed when your Sim first starts, but every house should have the following objects:

  • Counters - counter space is needed for cooking, unless your Sim will live on quick meals.
  • Refrigerator - Vital for eating at home
  • Sink - for cleaning up. Most kitchen sinks will be installed on top of a counter
  • Oven - if you want your Sim to cook food, be sure to get an oven. They aren't a requirement
  • Smoke Detector - Vital if your Sim isn't a natural cook and going to use an oven. Can save their life.
  • Seating and a table - Not always necessary, some Sims can head to the living area and eat in the recliner.
  • Toilet - no explanation necessary
  • Shower or Tub - I prefer showers, they seem to go faster
  • Sink - time-saver if your Sim wants to wash their hands
  • Bed - Sleeping on the floor is NOT desirable.
    Living Room
  • Some form of entertainment and a seat. Not all Sims need this type of entertainment. Some can get by with a desk and computer. Some don't need it at all, for example guitarists who play at the park all day for tips.

    I'm done with my house and I just started the game, what should I do with my Sim?
    Now you're ready to really play the game! If you're completely new to the Sims, or gaming in general, I recommend you go the conventional route and join a career track with your Sim. Depending on their traits, they might be exceptionally good at something, so try to pick a career that is suited to them. For example, a green thumb might do well in the science career track, which makes use of the gardening skill. Read my Sims 3 Career Guide for more info. The career guide can give you a good idea of all the different types of Sims you can play. There are hundreds of combinations of Sims!

    How to Find a Job
    Press the 'M' key to go to the map screen. There, you'll see lots of red icons near the center of either town. Most of those places will let you apply for a job. Again, the careers guide can direct you to the building where you'll find the particular career you want. When you've found the place your Sim wants to work, click it and select apply for job. The Sim will take a taxi and apply at the job site. They always get the job. Click the blue arrow beside their portrait if you want them to return home, otherwise, use the map and explore the town -- work isn't until tomorrow! You may also consider using the first day to get a head start on job-related skills.

    Look to the careers tab in the Sim panel, which may need to be expanded (it's a right-facing arrow to the right of your Sim's head). On the careers tab, you can see the career requirements for your Sim's current job. There may be a skill here, or relationships with boss and co-workers. Mood is always present. You'll be able to tell how your Sim stacks up to the current skill and relationship requirements for their particular job. If your Sim goes to work in a good mood, with the other performance metrics high, the meter to the right will fill. If they end the day with that bar maximized, they will earn a promotion. This will help them make more money but also put more demands on them for socializing or their skill levels.

    Read my Sims 3 Skills Guide to learn more about individual skills in the game., such as Charisma or Gardening.

    Fulfilling Wishes
    Every Sim will get wishes. Wishes in The Sims 3 appear based on how you play the game. If you focus on one type of skill for a while, or socialize with a particular Sim a lot, your Sim's thoughts will be on accomplishing goals related to those pursuits. They may want to score a kiss with their sweetheart, meet a new Sim, catch a big fish, or get a job promotion. These are normal wishes (formerly known as wants) that grant some lifetime happiness points. They'll appear in the box above the four to the left of your Sim's lifetime wish. You can promise up to four wishes to a Sim at one time. In order for a wish to be filled, it must be promised first. These wishes can be anything from raising one gardening skill level, to amassing a ton of money, to kissing another Sim for the first time.

    The First Day at Work
    Try to make your Sim go to bed nice and early. The carpool will arrive an hour before work starts. Give your Sim enough time to use the bathroom, take a shower and have a meal. They'll perform better if they go to work in a good mood, and a great way to do this and prevent stress is to have some fun before work. Have them watch tv, read a book, whatever forms of entertainment they have. As I said, mood matters for every job.

    Occasionally, your Sim will get an opportunity. This can be for a career, a skill your Sim knows, or a special opportunity. They're similar to wishes in that they're influenced by how you play. They are split between three types (career, skill, and special) and you can only have 1 opportunity of each kind active at one time. If the slot is filled, you won't get new opportunities. The opportunities themselves can vary, such as growing high quality plants, doing dishes for work, or repairing something at city hall with the handiness skill. All opportunities give your Sim a reward of some sort when completed. They can give money, relationship boosts with other Sims, increase job performance or give your Sim experience in a skill.

    What now? Go Play the Game! How is up to you!
    Have fun, explore, and play The Sims 3. I hope I've given you some tips that steer you toward a goal for your game play. Guide your Sim through his life. Try to make him happy. Socialize with other Sims to form relationships, complete career, skill and special opportunities and work toward completing the Sim's lifetime wish. Get rich and build up that house. Furnish it with the best your Sim can afford and try to help them rise to riches. The gameplay will change with almost every Sim you play. Especially if you leave free will on in the game's options menu! The Sims 3 can practically play itself!

    If you find yourself having trouble and just need to get better at managing Sims' needs, have a look at our Cheats Page along with Testing Cheats. If you're a console gamer, click here for PS3 and Xbox 360 Cheats.

    Share Tips and FAQs (37)

    Our Sims Forum is the place to go for faster answers to questions and discussions about the game. Use the form below to share your own experiences and provide helpful tips to other readers.

    lifesimmer says...
    I'm sure most people know me from my channel on youtube. I just want to say that you did a wonderful job on this wedsite keep up the GOOD WORK:)
    23rd June 2014 5:11pm
    cassiiiee says...
    OMG^^ I LOVE LIFESIMMER!! I watch your videos all the time and I love them so much! OMG
    24th June 2014 12:03pm
    Rakai says...
    Is this even the real life simmer? Why would she say that.
    17th July 2014 12:45am
    Beth says...
    OMG I <3 Your Channel!!!!!
    28th July 2014 1:57pm
    Somage Young says...
    I have sims3 Paradise island and I have a window 10 how do I play the game do I have to get the sims3 game by purchasing it off my laptop So it can be added on my laptop or buy it the disc
    Download the Origin App and purchase any DLC from the Origin Store
    21st December 2019 1:45pm
    cassiiiee says...
    OMG lifesimmer commented! ^^
    24th June 2014 12:00pm
    Esme says...
    im getting SIMS3GENARATIONS Now tell how will i record so they hear me talking and see the sims
    23rd March 2014 7:13am
    nikhil says...
    My sim is not using the toilet. When ever I click to the toilet the sim is refuse to go toilet. What I want to do. Some foot print is showing above the sim when I click to the toilet
    16th December 2013 7:18am
    Bill Nye says...
    There needs to be room around the toilet or something is in the way or the door to the toilet is locked or maybe a glitch. Try these two ideas and if they dont work then its a glitch or you need to update your game. If its not a glitch or you need to update create a new game. If it still does not work then look on the sims 3 website and go to the Answer HQ and type your problem or contact origin.
    19th December 2013 8:13pm
    taylor burrows says...
    How do u play this game:( i really want to play it.
    15th December 2013 7:03pm
    Shyloh says...
    I was wondering if you can play as the whole family in Sims 3 for the Wii? I made my characters but it will only let me play as the first person that I made???? Is there anyway to change playing characters? If so please email me at [email protected]
    I would appreciate it very much.... thanks
    29th April 2014 11:52am
    toffee500 says...
    ok, so, get the remote, and look at the control pad. its right above 'A'. press down on the control pad and click on the picture of whatever sim you want to be, using 'A'
    9th July 2014 4:27am
    JessicaEff says...
    I have Sims 3 for PS3 and I can't figure out how to be the character. Is it possible? If so, how?
    17th June 2013 11:10pm
    Kiwi says...
    i have been laying the game for a while and i know this sounds nooby but how do you grab more than one thing out of your inventory at once (if they are in a stack)
    12th June 2014 7:21pm
    Kiwi and Eggy asked a question says...
    Hi. I am so honered to be writing this comment for all of you. Have a great day and don't poop on anyone!!!!!&#128518;&#128540;
    25th April 2014 7:49pm
    bella says...
    How to add sim to town? Can u show me..
    3rd September 2013 10:56am
    Jasmine says...
    I want that so badly
    28th December 2013 6:52pm
    rere says...
    7th August 2014 12:58pm
    Hi says...
    Can you make as many sims as you want?
    9th May 2013 3:55pm
    Jorgitoli says...
    You can make up to 18 I believe in one household. As many as you like if you just fill the entire town. :-) I once made a town entirely of clones.
    2nd August 2013 9:25pm
    horsey lover says...
    no, I think theres a limit of about 9 or 10 hope this helps :)
    12th August 2013 5:22pm
    Emily says...
    Yes, but I've never had more than 5... :P
    24th August 2013 11:50am
    Bill Nye says...
    No. I think you can only have about 8 or 9. If your family is crowded and you want to adopt a kid or have a kid 1 sim needs to move out. There may be mods that can increase the limit.
    19th December 2013 7:29pm
    Unicorn says...
    I think you can only have up to 6 people on the PS3.
    1st September 2017 12:38pm
    Sasha says...
    Hey I have the sims 3 pets for the console version the ps3 and I was wondering if I can connect to the play store to buy expansion packs like hairs and furniture, am I able to do this ? Thankyou
    23rd March 2014 9:22am
    Mrbladehero2015 says...
    Thanks for the guide
    11th August 2015 11:41pm
    Amber says...
    Hello, ive just got the sims 3 for andriod. It seems really limited so i guess im not playing it well. Im at the top skill level for cooking, fishing, gardening and repairing but now im at the top for all of those things theres nothing else for me to do? theres only options to buy things that pertain to these four categories and theres no real options to do anything else. I dont kow what to do to get more skills and progress in the game.
    23rd August 2015 3:19pm
    Shaghayeghazarniad says...
    29th May 2013 8:13am
    julia says...
    wow i like sims
    2nd June 2013 3:01am
    Twincicle 123 says...
    hi does anybody know how to keep your sims game from crashing?
    3rd August 2015 2:00pm
    KingGamer says...
    Hello im the KingGamer n youtube and i am going to do a lets play on sims 3 Xbox 360. So this means i need the cntrolls formthe Xbox edition. The reason being is that my disc holder did not have the mannual so i need to know the controlls plz. I will be really thankfull if you can.
    27th March 2014 12:59pm
    rere says...
    7th August 2014 12:57pm
    Rhiannon says...
    Carl, did you do a site like this for TS2? For some reason, I thought you did...
    16th October 2017 1:22pm
    chris says...
    He did do a TS2 guide but it got took down for quite a while
    4th September 2018 7:05pm
    Cairen says...
    Does anybody know how to call a taxi or get someone from place to place, I know about the carpools but one of my characters is stuck at work and I don't know how to get any transportation or get her home, she been there for a couple of days.
    31st July 2013 12:50pm
    User says...
    try typing in 'resetsim [firstname/lastname]' excluding quotation marks and brackets.
    19th April 2014 2:21am
    StaytunedwithDorothy says...
    I love your guides.
    Everytime i was stuck i was always looking (reading) your guides. Thank you.
    Thanks to you i had fun on S3 and S4.
    4th April 2019 4:20am
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