“What was the Last Game You Played?”

The last game I played was my lifelong love, the Sims.  I was introduced to the game when I was about twelve, and I’ve never looked back.  One of my favourite childhood memories was playing the Sims 2 when I first got it.  There were so many amazing new features and adjustments from the original game and my sister and I spent hours exploring it.  There are always families you make that stick with you.  For TS2, it was Hayden and Alyssa and their brood of offspring.  As TS2 didn’t allow for the whole neighbourhood to age up simulatatiously (that was introduced in the Sims 3), I spent many hours playing Hayden’s family, then Alyssa’s.  I started with Hayden’s parents.  I saw them meet, fall in love, marry, get pregnant with him then his siblings.  Then I played Alyssa’s family and oversaw the same progression.  As these were some of my first families that were able to age up (the original Sims didn’t have an ageing feature), I got very attached to the families.  When I finally got Hayden and Alyssa to meet and marry, I was so happy.  It had taken so long to get the two families to become one, so it was really special.  They had kids, and I played through them too.

Anyway, I digress.  The game I played most recently was the Sims 3.  I have the Sims 4 but I just don’t like it.  I don’t like that the neighbourhoods are segmented, that it doesn’t age together, that it’s so complicated to get job promotions and romance happening.  I just feel like it’s a lot of hard work.  I especially don’t like that everything seems to have taken a backwards step – the babies are attached to their crib (the Sims 1 did that!), the neighbourhood doesn’t age together (the Sims 2 was the last to do that), no toddler age – my favourite age group (the Sims 1 was the first and only game prior to skip this).  This is why I’ve stuck with TS3.  It has massive amounts of expansion packs, custom content and is basically the best of all the games combined.

As I’ve played the game for so long, I’m always on the hunt for different ways to play.  The family I’m playing right now is the Johns.  I started with Aubrey, a young adult.  I put her on a vacant lot, used a cheat to completely wipe out her funds, and sent her to go fishing.  The only way she was allowed to earn money was from making it herself – she wasn’t going to get a 9-to-5 job, but she could do things such as fish, paint, write or steal.  For a long time, her day consisted of fishing from mid-afternoon to midnight, then inviting herself over to a random person’s house, then stealing 3 items from their house (as a kleptomaniac, she could steal 3 items every 24 hours, but I can’t control what she steals, only who she steals from and what room it’s taken from).  Slowly but surely she started to build her funds, and her house.  At first she was forced to used her local gym for toilet and shower usage, and she’d nap on one of the couches there.  She’d buy fruit and vegetables from the grocery store and snack on that.  It was great when she was able to afford things such as a bar fridge, toilet and bath.  It was even better when she could afford to build walls so she didn’t have to live under the stars.

Her whole young adult life was focused on building up her money and house.  When she aged up to adulthood, she had a small house with a few rooms, and a little bit of money tucked away.  She was driving a flashy car that she’d managed to steal, so that was nice.  The second part of this family challenge was she was to adopt all her kids, not get pregnant.  I did this as I’m so used to the old meet-marry-reproduce routine that I decided I wasn’t going to do this any more.  I also decided I’d use coin flips to decide the gender and age of the kids she’d adopt, and I’d use babynamegenie.com to randomly pick a name for them, as I liked in TS2 when you’d adopt, they’d come pre-named (something that doesn’t happen in TS3).  To add to the rules and to tie into the first part of the challenge, she had to have enough money to be able to give each adopted child their own bedroom.  She adopted her first – Logan, a toddler-aged boy – a few days after her birthday.  It was a lot of fun, though challenging, as she still had to fish and steal, along with teaching him how to walk, talk and use the potty (oh, that’s another rule too – all adopted kids must be taught the basics!).  She managed it though, even if it meant she was almost always in a constant bad mood and state of exhaustion.  After Logan aged up into childhood and went off to school, Aubrey adopted another boy, this time a baby named Owen.  This was an even bigger challenge as not only did it mean he was really young for longer than Logan was, but he needed care around the clock.  Aubrey began skipping her fishing trips more often, though still kept up stealing which was the higher-income-generator of the two.

After Owen aged up and was taught everything, Aubrey adopted Quincy, another male toddler.  Having two toddlers and a child and very little money was definitely tough, but I tried to get her back into fishing as much as possible.  On top of that, I also had to get her too cook dinners for Logan (she’d been living off quick meals until then but kids get hungry a lot more quickly with those).  The house was filthy with rubbish everywhere but she just didn’t have enough time to clean on top of everything else.

It was great when Owen aged into a child as it took the pressure off Aubrey a little bit.  She taught Quincy everything, and stole some quality stuff so she could afford to upgrade her house a little and build another room.  From there, she adopted her first daughter, a child named Tess.  It was great to finally adopt an older kid, as it’s a lot less work.  It meant that Aubrey could focus on fishing a lot more, and she soon had a lot more money than she’d had for a long time.

She then adopted a toddler named Boston.  Thankfully Logan was now a teenager, so he was a great help with the latest addition, and between the two of them, Boston was taught the basics very quickly.  The family was starting to really take shape and get everything together.  The kids were doing well in school, the money was flowing in steadily, everyone was in good moods.

Aubrey didn’t adopt any more kids for awhile, focusing instead on juggling the family she already had, earning extra money, cooking meals to feed all those mouths and keeping the house clean.  It seemed like her life was finally becoming easier and less of a struggle.  The kids all started to age up, they got good grades and had friends in school.

After awhile, Aubrey decided to welcome her final two additions to the family, two children – a girl named Rachelle and a boy named Shaun.  The house was at bursting point, but Aubrey didn’t want it any other way.  She achieved her lifetime wish of “Surrounded by Family” and aged up into an elder.

Currently, all the adoptees are teenagers.  Three of them are dating, all of them are doing well in school and the house (which started from an empty lot) is now 13 rooms big.  As per the challenge, each kid has their own room.  They’ve each got a desk in their room, and a bookshelf.

The family also found and adopted an unicorn named Pepper, who is a fantastic racehorse and super pretty.  It wanders around the neighborhood at will but always comes back to eat and sleep.  It’s a crazy household but it’s been a great challenge and is definitely different to how I usually play!

My favourite moment so far was when one of the boys accidentally set the kitchen on fire.  Fires are always dramatic in this game, and it spreads pretty fast.  All the household runs towards the fire (logic, right?) and stress and scream and basically just get in the way.  Well, Boston got too close and went up in flames.  Luckily, being a child-friendly game, he casually walked out of the flames, got his sister to extinguish him and he was good as new.  It was a stressful moment though as I don’t like any of my simmies to die!  After that happened, the fireman rocked up, and his name was Jeffery Jeffrey.  That’s one of the more amusing names the game has randomly generated!

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Do you play the Sims?  What’s your favourite family?

This prompt, and many more, can be found here

“What Are Your 5 Guilty Pleasures?”

My five guilty pleasures are:

  • Donuts.  Especially Krispy Kremes.  Oh god, they’re amazing.  And so calorie-laden that you feel guilty before even buying them.  I love them so much!
  • Tumblr.  While this isn’t something you’d usually put into the “guilty pleasure” category, the amount of time I can waste on that site is crazy.  There’s just so much good stuff on there and once you start you can’t get off it!
  • The Sims.  If I played it like a normal person, this wouldn’t be a guilty pleasure at all.  However, I’ve been playing it since I was 12, and have played all the boring storylines out to death.  So now, my sims all have crazy lives.  Twenty kids, random deaths in their family, sudden poorness, strange jobs, random hook ups and affairs.  I feel guilty inflicting it on them…but it’s so entertaining!
  • Snuggling with Toys. When I’m sad, I love cuddling with my old teddy and my new Build-A-Bear.  I guess it takes me back to childhood, and who doesn’t like to be taken back there sometimes?
  • Online Shopping.  It’s the mother of all guilty pleasures for me, as I spent money I shouldn’t be spending on stuff I really don’t need to be buying.  Nothing beats the feeling of the package arriving and it being full of discounted goodness!

What are your guilty pleasures?

This prompt, and many more, can be found here.

Summer’s Coming

I’ve had a terrible year.  The worst of my life.  It hasn’t just been one big thing – that stuff happens but doesn’t make the whole year awful – but one bad thing after the other.  It feels like I’m a character in the Sims, where the game is being run by a bored 14-year-old boy.  Every time I find my feet and try to get back up, something comes along to kick me back down again.

It’s all a lesson right?

A lesson in accepting what comes.  A lesson in appreciating what you’ve got.  A lesson in trying to find the positive in everything.

RIGHT?

I don’t know.

The start of this year saw me in a job I was comfortable in, with great friends, a super cute crush I got to see 5 times a week, a healthy family, a reliable car and a gorgeous young dog.

And now?  A mere 9 months later?

I’m unemployed.  Not by choice.   My family has been touched by cancer.  I’m lucky if I see my crush once a month.  I’ve upset about half my friends unintentionally (my friendship group isn’t huge).  I had a car accident on my 25th birthday, though luckily (if you could call anything like that lucky) it wasn’t off the road too long.

It’s all a test, right?  If I survive this year, I’ll win a great 2016?

RIGHT?

And yet, despite receiving yet another phone call saying “sorry, you didn’t get the job, we found someone better” for the seventh time in two weeks, despite having no income with an upcoming mortgage, despite going stircrazy sitting around all day every day at home, I’m OKAY.

I’m not great.  There are days where I just want to throw in the towel, crawl under a blanket and refuse to participate in everything.  It’s only fair, right?  After everything I’ve been dealt?

But there are days – days like today – where the sun is out, the breeze is warm, and I feel like I can get through this.  That things aren’t so bad.  That I’m alive
and healthy and able to appreciate the fact that even if everything else in my world is shit, that summer is coming.  After a freezing winter, summer is coming.  Even if I don’t find a job, even if I get more bad news, the warmth is approaching and the days will soon get longer.  Nothing is going to change that.

And for some reason, today, just knowing that, is enough.

– JD