Addison, a Sim I made to check out The Sims 4’s latest college-themed expansion was tense. She was almost always tense on campus, given how much work she had to do to graduate. At the Britechcester University campus, there’s pretty much only one option to unwind: go to the bar.
Sims don’t drink alcohol—they drink juice. Therefore there’s no hangovers, no being drunk, and no alcoholism. They might get a sugar high, or feel slightly uncomfortable from missing the sugar afterwards, but they don’t experience withdrawals. Still, after a year plus of not drinking, I try to make my Sims drink less juice than they normally would, but it’s not easy. Sims tend to drink autonomously if they’re near a bar, but I try to keep them occupied, or I just don’t take them to the bar if I can help it.
For students living on campus at Britechester, there aren’t a lot of choices for post-class activities. Although there are campus societies and a common area where there are sometimes poetry readings, one of the more populous places for socializing is the local bar. It’s one of the two community lots, which are public lots that played and non-played Sims can visit. The other community lot is the library. Therefore, after finishing a term paper, when Addison’s fun meter is in the red, the bar is pretty much the only option.
When I went to college at Oberlin, I spent a considerable amount of time at the Feve, the one good bar on campus. I also went to every Wednesday theme night at the student union, which offered four dollar pitchers of PBR. I also went to the unofficial Wednesday afterparty at some senior’s house, regularly getting out of there at three or four in the morning. I used to organize my weekend nights by which parties or events I could drink at for free (my friends studying Fine Arts would always see me during their openings). On the weekends I loved to grab some Miller High Lifes and drink on my porch, sometimes falling asleep in the early afternoon, only to wake up and begin drinking again in the evening.
In many respects this was normal at Oberlin, but now, I look back at how much of my life was centered around alcohol and am a little shocked. All of my socializing included alcohol in some way. The only times I was reliably sober was in classes, and even then there were the occasional morning classes I’d attend class still drunk from the night before.
I haven’t been able to buck that trend for Addison, even though I’ve tried. If she wants to join the art society, she can check out the cocktail hour they have in the bar every Thursday. As a reward for completing a quest, Addison received a Juice Keg, which she can tap to use at parties or to do a keg stand. At the bar, Addison can play juice pong, which I’ve made her do quite a bit, because it raises your friendship with another Sim at the same time as it raises your Fun. It’s efficient, but she’s now drinking every night.
The way that alcohol—the game calls it juice, but let’s be real, it’s alcohol—is represented in The Sims 4 is realistic, in that it is ubiquitous. You’re assumed to buy in to alcohol and drinking culture by default. Most people do, after all. I just want to tell Addison the thing I wish more people had told me: you’ll have an easier time at school, and probably be a lot happier, if you stop drinking constantly.