Simlish Language Is Largely Made Spontaneously: The Sims Developers

Sims get together

Simlish, the gibberish language that the various characters in The Sims speak, is regarded as one of the most prominent features of this gaming franchise.

This language is emotive and amusing in equal measures. It has contributed significantly to the comic flavor in the game.

In a new episode of the podcast named Twenty Thousand Hertz, the developers of The Sims franchise can be heard speaking to host Dallas Taylor and discussing with them about how this language came into being. Claire Curtin, who was a voiceover director and designer on the first game in the Sims franchise, gave an elaborate account of how the language was conceived.

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The language does have a few words, phrases, or terms that we use every day but a large part of it cannot be comprehended by most people. For instance, you can hear the term ‘sulsul’ being used in the game which basically means ‘hello’. As shared by the developing team on the podcast episode, the language is made up spontaneously by voice actors. Initially, the developers had tried to base Simlish on languages like Ukrainian and Estonian but for some reason, they dropped this idea.

They decided to create a language that would be based on mindless babbling and one that could be easily understood by anybody. Instead of putting together a proper structure, the team decided to conceive a free-flowing language that would be bereft of repetitive phrases and sounds. This was done to ensure that the players did not hear a particular voice line repeatedly while playing the game.

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In order to create Simlish, Curtin came up with the idea of putting together an improvisation exercise that would involve an actor narrating a poem spontaneously in gibberish. Another actor would be given the responsibility of translating it into English and reciting it to the audience.

Two voice actors were asked to come to the studio. They were shown animations of different characters in movement and then instructed to voice their personal representation of how it would sound. There would be times when the team would do as many as 20 takes to get it right. The idea worked and that’s how Simlish language came into being.

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