A furloughed woman in Manchester is recreating some of her favourite Manchester landmarks on The Sims 4, with unbelievable accuracy.
Jess Vaughan, who normally works in sales and marketing, has built virtual replicas of locations including Ancoats Marina and Mackie Mayor.
The detail of each build is remarkable – down to the resident dog at Ancoats bakery Pollen, and to the rainbow bunting along Canal Street.
Jess’s virtual world includes landmark buildings like the Peveril of the Peak pub, St Ann’s Church, and Whitworth Locke with its ornate glass atrium.
Each project takes her between two and four hours, but she says that the positive feedback she receives from other players makes it all worth it.
She has even created an Instagram account to chart her new time-consuming hobby.
In a time that many of us are staying away from the city centre, and all of us are going without the restaurants and bars we’d usually spend our free time in, it’s a novel way to visit some popular haunts.
Jess says she’s been playing The Sims since she was a kid, but hadn’t committed this much time to it until she was recently furloughed.
She said: “I live in Ancoats so I’ve been going out on my daily walks, picking a place to build then taking lots of pictures. It’s never enough pictures though, so I always end up on social media looking at the location tags to see what other people have posted.
“That’s a great thing about Manchester, it’s one of those cities where loads of people take pictures and there are so many photos out there that capture the city and its spirit, so I can piece them together.
“Some of them can be quite frustrating but I genuinely get such a sense of achievement when it’s done – like the canal boats in Ancoats marina, I couldn’t begin to think how I’d build those but I was so happy when I was finished.
“The insides of places are the hardest because I obviously can’t go in somewhere like Mackie Mayor at the minute to see what it looks like!”
It’s also given her a new appreciation for the city’s buildings and structures.
She added: “I just love all the different architecture around Manchester, all the different styles in one street, I thought it would be really interesting to build.
“I love that in Manchester you could have these huge modern glass buildings but then in the middle of it is a tiny old pub.”
Many people have picked up new hobbies during the UK’s ongoing lockdown, whether it’s fitness or baking or jigsaw puzzles. Or Netflix binges.
Few have gone to this level of detail, though.
Jess said: “It’s something I can spend my time on getting away from everything, and people’s reactions have been really heart-warming.
“A lot of us can’t get out and walk around the city, and go to the businesses that we’d like to, so this is just a bit of fun and a bit of joy.”
Each of Jess’s builds on The Sims 4 can be added to individual’s games and explored by your own Sims.
To see more of them, visit instagram.com/sim.ulatedmanchester