Our generation grew up on the simulation video game "The Sims," and its intriguing ability to manipulate characters that were not so different from us. Everyone I know around my age has set some houses on fire, cheated on their spouses with several different people and drowned their neighbors in a pool — virtually, of course.
Recently, "The Sims" came out with a new expansion pack, "Discover University." As a long time "Sims" fan, I thought it would be fun to see if I could recreate my college experience at LMU in a video game.
As a senior, this game pack released at the perfect time. I have been nostalgic for the early days of freshman year when everything about college life seemed so exciting and fun — could a video game give me that same feeling?
In "Discover University," there's a new town, Britechester, with two rival colleges with different storied histories — Britechester University and Foxbury Institute. Since I was recreating my own college life, I tried to pick a university similar to LMU.
Britechester was known for its liberal arts, like LMU, and had a thriving debate team and art society, but the campus had New England architecture that didn't really remind me of LMU. Foxbury Institute was a modern campus with a focus on innovation, technology and had distinguished degrees in STEM, and while the contemporary buildings and school colors of red and yellow reminded me a bit more of LMU's campus, I thought LMU was more of a mix of the two. However, as a political science major, I thought Britechester would be a bit closer to my experience.
I created a Sim that did not look like me but with the similar goals and aspirations as me. My Sim applied to college and automatically got in, she just had to wait for her acceptance letter to arrive. I would say this was worlds away from my high school senior experience of refreshing my inbox, hoping and praying for an acceptance email from LMU.
I decided to go for an economics degree — the closest thing to my political science major, and it said this would help me go into several careers in a higher position, namely the new education career, which I thought fit my alter ego Sim quite well.
When you send your Sim off to University, you can live at home, in on-campus dorms or in houses. You can also apply for loans and pay them yourself. You can apply for scholarships that include skill-based, need-based or merit-based aid. You can even make some extra cash in scholarship money by joining your school's soccer or e-sports team.
Overall, a term was about a week long and you can could take up to four classes; if you fail any you do not get credit, and you need 12 credits to graduate. In "Sims," a week is about a year in college life. You can overachieve and do the max number of credits and graduate in three weeks (aka years of in-game time), or take a normal rate of classes and enjoy four weeks (aka years of in-game time) of university.
My sister is also a long-time "Sims" fanatic, and we grew up taking turns on the family computer playing out stories in Sims. She's always been an overachiever. She is now in medical school, so of course some of her criticism was that the grading system was poor, and it was hard to keep track of her Sims' straight-As. She also thought the "Sims 2 University" had a bit more fun in it; although, that might be the nostalgia talking.
I had a roommate who liked to throw parties and play the violin while I was sleeping. Everyone in my dorm left trash and old food around, and there was always one neat freak trailing behind trying to clean everything — not unlike my freshman dorm experience.
You have either final presentations, final exams or term papers to complete in your classes. You can also skip class, cheat on exams or plagiarize papers (don't do this kids).
My Sim joined the debate team and went to "spirit events"—kind of like LMU—sponsored tailgates if LMU had kegs and encouraged students to do keg stands. You could also taunt the other school's mascot, prank their campus and pull practical jokes in public bathrooms.
There were no sorority or fraternity life aspects, but there was a secret society that was hard to get into which I found interesting. I don't think there are any at LMU, but if there is, let me know, because in "The Sims" being in the society helps you get better grades, and I'm intrigued.
Overall, I really enjoyed recreating my college life in a couple of hours on my laptop. I loved the idea of doing everything from creating the perfect straight-A student to a party-goer that fails out of all their classes. It had exciting new gameplay that reminded me of all the times I played "Sims 2 University" when I was a young kid and desperate to grow up and share a dorm with my peers and do a handstand on a keg — although I'm not sure if the latter will ever happen.