So I have been playing the Sims now for a little while. Due to my language constraints (and sometimes my own laziness of not wanting to deal with my Chinese dictionary) I have restarted the game now 3 times when I get stuck. Despite this, it looks like it has been helping based on the, albeit anecdotal, evidence.
For example, I met the friend of a friend a couple weeks ago while out with a big group of people. (During this time the language used was more English than Chinese due to the varying level of language ability of the group as a whole.) We had a good time and see we added each other as friends on Facebook and chatted through text messages. We conversed in a mix of Chinese and English, but using more Chinese than English, because I need to practice Chinese and his English isn’t quite fluent.
After about a week of chatting via text we met up and hung out in person. After only a short time into the conversation he expressed his surprise at my low level of verbal communication ability in comparison to my written ability. My only explanation is that it must be the Sims.
The Sims game uses written Chinese, but like all versions, the avatars do not speak an actual language. Therefore, when I play I am being exposed to written Chinese, but not verbal. I further believe this to be a result of playing Sims because although I am still taking Chinese classes, the classes do not emphasis writing and therefore are unlikely to be contributing to a disparity between my written and verbal abilities.
In short, it seems that playing the Sims in Chinese was a good idea. I’ll keep playing and see if this continues to unfold in the vein.