The basic goal of "The Sims" is simply to keep your Sim (or family of Sims) happy and healthy while improving their home and guiding them along a career path. The game is mostly controlled via a control panel.
The panel in the lower-left of the screen switches between the various modes of play. "Live Mode" is where Sims go about their lives in real-time. Players can go in and out of "Live Mode" at any time. "Buy Mode" allows players to buy new items for the home. "Build Mode" is for creating a new home or remodeling. "Camera Mode" takes snapshots of the current screen.
Players begin each new game by building a small house for themselves. A prefab "Newbie House" can also be used. Players can switch between views of the house using the buttons below the "Live Mode" icon.
Each Sim has several vital sign levels that have to be kept up. Sims act on their own to take care of these needs, using items the player has placed in the house. It is important to have items such as a refrigerator and bathroom to keep the Sims alive. Once basic needs are taken care of, players can focus on building their career and interacting with other Sims.