Sobbing alone in bed, and other stories from my return to college in The Sims 4

Hey, it's my first day of college in The Sims 4: Discover University expansion! And hey, I'm already crying alone in bed! Yes, I'm crying. I'm not doing anything else under the covers that the gif above might suggest. Turn on the sound if you don't believe me.

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It's sad, but probably not as sad as my actual experience at a university. In my youth, long, long ago, I went to college. Briefly. I attended for one semester, took four general education classes (like Anthropology, Film Studies, and two other classes I can't even remember), and got 2 Cs and 2 Fs. (For those not in the United States, C is an average grade and F is failing). Then I dropped out and got a job because college life was clearly not for me.

Sometimes I think about going back to college and finally getting a degree, but I thought I'd try it in the Sims 4 first to see how it went. So, I'm sending this fairly accurate version of myself (bald, paunchy, graying, and deeply antisocial) back to university. I'll take four classes, live in a dorm, and see if this time around my grades are any better.

Sobbing in bed alone on my first day isn't a great start, and it doesn't help that I've arrived for college in my underpants and bunny slippers. I feel like I won't share Joanna's enjoyable university experiences of face-piercing and robot dating while I'm here. But I'll try to be optimistic: since things started so poorly, they can't get worse, right?

After a day or two of settling into the routine of attending class, staying fed, getting enough sleep, and showering when my hygiene gets dire, I realize I'm in for a real struggle. In a dorm filled with young, energetic, sociable people, I can't seem to even find a little space to do something I'm interested in, like reading a book, watching TV, or crying alone in bed (it happened again). A crowd gathers no matter which empty room I occupy, and just sitting down somewhere results in everyone else in the dorm wandering in, starting conversations, and filling my personal space with their warm and friendly personalities. I'm in hell!

I spend most of my time tense, and that tension slowly begins to define my new college experience. At least my roommates seem to take a hint when I go to sleep, and have their lively parties in the common area rather than in a circle around my bed.

I know I sound like a cranky old guy (because I am genuinely a cranky old guy) but how are they up and active at 2:30 in the morning? How do they even have time with all the classwork and meal needs and hour-long showers that fill up a day? And did I catch a glimpse of the same vampire who ruined my life when I played as a gnome cop? That dude gets around. 

I've taken all writing classes, something I hope will prove more useful than what I actually studied at college, but doing my coursework isn't easy, even when I flee the dorms and find a computer lab to work in. It's empty when I arrive, but that changes the moment my butt hits a seat and my fingers touch a keyboard. Just look at how many times I have to opt out of incoming conversations with people while I'm trying to work:

All these students want to do is interact with each other. Yuck! They want to interact with me, too. Double yuck! Even a damn robot wanders up and wants to talk at one point. And normally I'd definitely want to meet a robot, but I've got classwork to do, and I seem to be the only one at this university even remotely interested in getting a simulated education.

As the semester stretches on, things get worse. I start missing classes in favor of extra sleep, I don't complete my assignments, I often find myself tired, hungry, and stinky, and above all else: tense. It's beginning to look identical to my original college experience. At one point I change clothing abruptly into an outfit I've never seen before and would never wear because it's not befitting a boring old guy with no fashion sense. That feels like a bad sign.

Plus, a gnome statue has appeared in the hallway and I wonder if I'm the only one who can see it. In short, I'm beginning to worry about my sanity. And there I am, jogging to class. Me exercise? Something is definitely wrong. 

Eventually I decide that maybe the problem with college life isn't everyone else. Maybe it's me. I'm tense because I'm surrounded by strangers, but they're only strangers because I haven't made any effort to get to know them. I start trying to take some time to chat with my roommates. I even attend a late night pizza party in my underwear and rabbit slippers, and do a little socializing instead of glaring while I eat.

And it actually seems to help. Once I get to know these other Sims I live with, I don't get tense quite as often as I used to, and I don't wind up sobbing alone in bed again for the rest of the semester. Human interaction... good?

(Image credit: EA)

My final grades arrive, and wow! I did better at Sims University than I did at real university. Not a whole lot better, but better! I got an A+ in "Interpreting the Word," a C in "Conquering the Page," and a D+ in "Setting the Scene." Oddly, the only failing grade I received was in "Writing Sadness," which you'd think I'd be an expert in, what with all the relentless sobbing under my covers.

It's only a minor triumph over reality, but I'll take it. And, unlike real life, I think I'll enroll for a second semester, and try to be more social and less reclusive this time. Who knows? If I keep this up, maybe I'll even find someone special to sob in bed with together.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.