Addison, the Sim I made to check out the latest university-themed Sims 4 expansion, has had a very bad week. She’s a Fine Arts major, taking a class about video games as an elective. Her schedule, as such, was a complete mess. Monday and Wednesday she had three classes, with barely any room in between to breathe, let alone eat. Her fun meter on those days was perpetually low. She was pulling all-nighters, she barely showered, and was late to everything. Ah, student life.
The Sims 4’s Discover University expansion inserts an all-new optional phase into a Young Adult Sim’s life. Near the end of high school, Teen Sims can now apply to two university that they will then attend upon their acceptance: the Ivy League flavoured Britechester University, or the high-tech Foxbury Institute. From there, they’re whisked off to a dorm, where they’ll be living for the next in-game year. On campus your Sim will be able to attend classes and join student organisations, all while balancing course work and finals.
The expansion feels incredibly true to life in that it made me very stressed out to play. There’s simply not enough time in a Sim’s life to shower, eat, have fun, socialise, do coursework, complete two papers and a presentation, as well as attend class every day. Playing Discover University is exactly like university, but not the nostalgic version that lives in your mind. This is an accurate representation of the gruelling struggle to stay on top of your work and also not completely lose your shit.
I say all that, but I also played this game all last night, as well as for another hour this morning while “just checking out some things” to complete this article. The stress is what makes it engaging. Compared to being a Teen, Young Adult Sims in uni are stretched to their absolute limit. Addison was near constantly tense, with only a few spare moments to try to do something, anything fun between completing all her work. Finding methods to navigate this obstacle course makes getting your grades back all the more fulfilling. Each new action requires scrutiny. Should you try to make it to the Arts Organisation's bar mixer tonight, or work on your presentation? Should you get started on your paper, or watch a movie in the common room? Are you content to be an average student who isn’t freaking out, or is it worth it to be constantly stressed for the end result of good grades?
When Sims attend classes, do their coursework, or study, their skills will rise in the relevant areas. Addison started off at Britechester with absolutely no knowledge of the violin, but after two terms of her required violin course, she’s halfway through the skill. In addition to gaining knowledge with real world applications, she’ll also have an easier time in a lot of different careers with her degree – if she manages to finish it. Being at school is also quite expensive, and although Addison managed to get a merit scholarship and another for coming from a low income household, her family is still paying out of pocket for her further education. Well, unless she wants to get a loan. Student life, baby!
So far, Addison’s second term is going a little bit more smoothly than the first. She’s cut a few corners in order to keep her mood up, and there are no more all nighters to finish her coursework. As I watch her ease into life at Britechester, I have to ask myself: how the hell did I ever survive uni?