Sims players have come up with all sorts of community challenge runs over the years—raising 100 babies or starting life with no cash in Rags to Riches. The latest one doesn’t have a catchy name yet, at least not that I’ve spotted, nor does it have formalized rules, but it is absolutely a challenge. Not for players though. No, this one is for the Sims themselves. Can they survive 24 real world hours unsupervised? Rarely.
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What I’ve been personally referring to as the “unpaused challenge” isn’t entirely new. Livestreamer Lilsimsie left her Sims to their own devices for hours at a time years ago, returning to house fires, deaths, and immense fictional property damage. She and other Simmers are now leaving their Sims all alone on purpose, challenging the little AI humans to make as big a mess as possible in houses fully designed to murder them.
In the last month, more and more Sims streamers have been shoving their Sims into cursed dollhouses. These unconventional homes are open on one side, all the better for viewers to see the chaos within. They’ve also turned on all of the lot challenges available: spooky (attracts ghosts at night), cursed (more likely to die of electrocution or exhaustion), gremlins (objects in the house break overnight), and others. They make sure to add Murphy beds and cow plants and other decor liable to go homicidal. Then they leave their Sims to their own devices for hours of real world time, and weeks in Sim time.
Unlike people, Sims have little interest in staying alive. Even with their simulated autonomy turned all the way up, they’ll make awful decisions like playing video games all night while surrounded by dirty dishes. Okay, maybe that’s not a great differentiator. They’ll make awful decisions like building snowmen in the yard instead of fixing any of their broken appliances.
All manner of chaos ensues: fires galore, deaths, hauntings, and babies. Livestreamer SpringSims has gotten in on the trend, telling me that “having all the lot of challenges on and making it a haunted house has made it so chaotic that I lost six sims in three hours” and that one of his Sims “had three kids and three baby daddies, but somehow they die the next day from a fire so we think she’s planning something with the Grim Reaper.”
He’s been trying to see how many achievements his Sims can collect overnight, and made some personal rules for his own unpaused runs, like having a full household of eight sims (for maximum suffering), low quality kitchen appliances more likely to catch fire, and only a single shared bathroom. Simmers have always been impressively sadistic.
In order to keep the clock running, some mods and cheats are required so that Sims will pay their bills and won’t get paused by in-game popups. (That’s households.autopay_bills and ui.dialog.auto_respond while using TwistedMexi’s cheat mod, SpringSims explains.)
I’ve been watching a few of these unpaused hell houses on Twitch, and despite all the death, they’re a nice bit of ambiance in my day. Rather than being nail biting by the minute, they’re more like a Twitch Plays stream (where no one is playing) or one of those nice animal camera streams. Every once in a while I look up at the muffled sounds of screaming to find yup, another Sim on fire. How cute.
The dollhouses of death have been great background music to my days lately, so now I’m just eagerly waiting on someone to name this challenge and formalize the rules.