Back when I was a lot younger, we used to play board games arranging from ConnectFour to Checkers.  Now?  Well, not so much.  It seems that The Sims and other games created by Maxis occupies my FreeTime (all pun intended).

The New York Times has a new article on how big the Sims really is.

All told, the franchise has generated about $4 billion in sales or an average of $500 million every year for the last eight years, placing the Sims in the rarefied financial company of other giants of popular culture like “American Idol,” “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter.”

But beyond the facts and figures, the Sims has become one of the most famous game franchises (behind perhaps only Mario) because it has heralded the evolution of video games into mainstream entertainment. Years before the Wii, before Nintendogs, before Guitar Hero and World of Warcraft and the other recent hits credited with rescuing games from the clutches of geekdom, the Sims was entrancing girls in a medium most often aimed at men. In a video game universe dominated by living room consoles, the Sims has remained a more intimate experience on office and bedroom PCs. In a world reshaped by the Internet, the Sims has remained almost entirely an offline, single-player experience.

Exploring Fantasy Life and Finding a $4 Billion Franchise