The Jeong-Espinosa Family: Surprise!

With emotions, Sims can now distinguish between actions that cause them pleasure and actions that cause them pain. Each choice they make leads to a neatly categorized moodlet: happiness at a nicely decorated room, or a good meal; sadness at losing Don’t Wake the Llama, or the death of a spouse. Sims (and their creators) can then make choices according to what they want to experience. Pleasure, or pain.

This would all be well and good, except our species is notoriously bad at distinguishing the two. Ice cream tastes good, pea microgreens do not. Yet, what deeply personal factors determine whether it is more painful to lose the experience of eating junk food or suffer the health consequences? Is the pain of exercise worth the later reward of endorphins? What about comforting a suffering friend—doesn’t sharing pain with someone else strengthen the relationship?

And then we create a virtual world in which we can create these creatures who are eternally young and beautiful, accomplished beyond our wildest imaginations, sheltered from the thousand pinpricks we experience daily. And then we kill them.

On that note, let’s see what those rascals, the Jeong-Espinosas, are up to!

The weekend is when Claudia goes to work, Mike does whatever the hell he feels like, and Charlie and Kendra hang out at the park. Charlie begins each park visit by effortlessly dodging all human contact, establishing a conversation-free zone near the fish pond. Kendra (now unsupervised) chooses to enact Return of the Obra Dinn. A couple of local teens pop in to play the role of eldritch horrors, Kendra is the helmswoman steadying her doomed vessel against the certain death lurking below, and her best friend Wyatt will be the first to be brutally torn apart by Max’s merciless tentacles. Everyone’s having a blast.

Amazingly, Max Villareal (Mean, Evil), of all people, seems to have very good chemistry with Shu.

That’s right: Max has strayed so far from his original characterization, he’s using his natural douchiness to entertain kids. In the future, Kendra may very well lose hers. She’s making a few too many friends and doing a little too much outside. From what we know about her, she should be hiding in the bathroom playing with her monster dolls.

Nope, everything’s fine! Carry on.

Wyatt (Childish) is one hard-to-read teal-and-crimson-wrapped package. His sole trait is tautological, and his sole friend is Kendra. They met in the playground looking for ants, and bonded over imagining the weird and wonderful: ghost stories, the fact that everyone is a skeleton surrounded by blood, which monster is the scariest. Kendra is happy to have found someone who doesn’t back away slowly at the mere mention of demons. Wyatt just wants to make everything explode.

A minute later, half the pieces were pantomimed as being turned inside out and half the pieces were on the floor. The pieces on the floor were guts.

Meanwhile, Claudia comes home from a long day of work. She’s exhausted, weathered, beaten-down—but, in an effort to keep up the facade, she veers away from the bar and goes to greet her spouse. Mike just got back from a party. Could she go away, please? He’s busy on the computer.

Yet Claudia can’t be suffering—look at how well-decorated that room is! How high their relationship bars are! Happy moodlet, happy marriage, happy, happy, happy. The rules say Claudia is perfectly fine; she is experiencing constant pleasure, and nothing else. You can’t be depressed in a room with expensive furniture!

But the juice has never been enough for Claudia, and it’s unclear if she’ll ever feel real joy again. She keeps going up to Charlie’s room to watch the fish.

If only the bright colors and calming movements could distract her from her own thoughts forever.

In Mike’s defense, he’s too busy “trolling teh forums” to notice how far gone his wife is.

I may have asked Mike to perform one mischievous interaction, by accident, but reaching Level 3 is all his doing.

Claudia, by the way? She’s an extremely sweet woman. So sweet, in fact, that she’s the original Sim and still hasn’t been angry even once in her life:

She doesn’t deserve this.

Now that we have an idea of what the source of Claudia’s pain is, however, we can begin working towards fixing it. Mike started to put more (any) effort into their relationship. They’re both enjoying the attention; instead of going about their business separately, they’ve started wanting to be physically intimate—and, little by little, Claudia has been getting better.

Sure, she’s making a drink. But she’s at the gym! And she’s smiling!

It wasn’t clear whether this was the solution or a problem.

That’s vomit on the floor.

Maybe she just had some spoiled food! Let’s ignore the fact that food that Claudia makes doesn’t spoil; Charlie must have made her a grilled cheese or something.

CLAUDIA NO

That’s it! She’s taking a pregnancy test.

CLAUDIA NOOOO. (Please disregard the last name change.)

Sometimes the Sims are harmed by themselves, sometimes by the environment, sometimes by others, and sometimes by their creator. Here it was the latter option. In my ignorance, I changed the settings on MCCC to set Risky WooHoo to 10%.

Mike and Claudia had risky WooHoo once with a 10% chance of pregnancy.

Surprise!

While I freaked out and tried to figure out how to induce a Sim abortion, Claudia was elated! Immediately after taking the pregnancy test, she ran over to Mike to give him the news, and they’re acting like their old inseparable selves again. Aw heck, you can keep it.

Hey, and Mike wasn’t flirting with his best friend this time!

The non-fetus second-generation Jeong-Espinosas go about their daily lives with no contextual understanding of their mother’s pregnancy. Charlie, for one, has been busy living up to his graphic shirt and cargo pants. If we know anything from multigenerational games, Charlie has to have children so we can play as the children, and then the children have to have children so we can play as the grandchildren. Procreation does, minimally, at some point, involve talking to a girl. Charlie, this is Elsa. She is a genius. She would love to go climbing with you.

Nah, not having it. Charlie refuses to even engage in polite conversation, instead choosing some distant vantage point to focus on while forcing a smile. Poor Elsa; this is the second time (at least!) someone has walked up to her and just bluescreened.

Charlie may have better luck improving his social skills at parties; at least this was the thought process of Shu, who doesn’t know Charlie well enough to not invite him.

This particular party has a lot going for it. First, the bacon thing: neither of these guys have the Mischief skill, so it must have been unlocked somehow. Second, conclusive evidence that Charlie would really rather be fishing right now. Third, there are no other teenagers at this party. Who the hell invited Shu?

While everyone else is distracted by the glowy lasers, Charlie uses the opportunity to slink off somewhere secret and peaceful.

He’s, uh, he’s holding a fishing rod. You just can’t see it.

The ocean is a punishingly complex and turbulent system, but when we view it from above, all we see are relaxing, gentle waves. Charlie is a man of few words. Charlie is not a man of inaction—he’s the first child of two fantastically accomplished parents, and has been working nonstop to live up to their expectations. When he gets overwhelmed, he goes here: the grotto entombed in rock, silence, and darkness; independent of past, present, and future; lit only by fireflies and subaquatic glimmer. Glimmer which is probably coming from a behemoth anglerfish. Right? Right?!

Kendra is too good for this world.

Kendra continues to learn and grow like any Sim child would. She’s learning to play eerie carnival music in the early hours of the morning. She’s learning to draw monsters, monsters, and additional monsters. She’s staying up with a flashlight under the covers reading forensic anthropology and anatomy textbooks. Her dreams involve being chased through a forest by a faceless, all-consuming void, her nightmares going to the convenience store and they’re out of chips.

If Uncle Xiyuan comes over to babysit, Dad can have his computer time. Dad needs his computer time.

Yes, Kendra has no fear of death or pain in the way only a child can. When she’s bored outside, she enacts her monster dolls rising from the depths of a volcano to belch lava onto the village below. When she’s bored at home, she draws hellish abominations with eyes where their hands should be and hands where their eyes should be. When she wakes up in the middle of the night,

she does exactly what we expect.

It’s so rewarding to make a little girl’s dreams come true.

Kendra progressed; she had no fear of the unknown, because this monster was no unknown. This is the moment she had been waiting for.

Kendra’s favorite thing is monsters. So, wouldn’t it make sense if her best friend were a monster?

This isn’t normal. Normal little girls have lesbian orgies with their dolls and then pop their heads off and throw the bodies under a lawnmower.

Kendra is an astounding example of developing an identity outside the options laid out for her. Yet, this has never been an option for some Sims, and so we mimic true personality by putting them in contrived situations where they can show off a particular set of generic skills and interactions. Here’s ex-comedian Mike telling jokes at the Humor & Hijinks festival.

The fact he can do two things makes him a 3D character! That, and cruelly destroying his wife.

The Humor/Hijinks festival was not without its Hijinks, and some waste of RAM decided that included defacing the beautiful artist engagement love mural. Whoever did this is taking a long swim in a pool with no ladders.

Just kidding! Sims figured out how to get out of pools. Mike could easily “accidentally” cause a death by laughter instead.

Then some mysterious angel restored the mural, and my faith in Sim-anity with it. Simhood? Simitude?

Claudia (hereafter, MVP) was busy doing everything while the rest of the family was out. First, running off to the hospital to be cut clean in half by an incompetent doctor and have a shrieking blood-potato mechanically extracted from her unanesthetized body. Meet baby Hector!

Kendra was amused at how much the newborn baby resembled the alien.

While at the hospital, she also got a tubal ligation, because the Jeong-Espinosas are definitely done having kids.

I SAID YOU WERE DONE.

Second, you may have realized an application of Claudia’s high gardening skill, Claudia’s high cooking skill, and Charlie’s penchant for fishing, like, constantly. Hey, wasn’t there a ghost somewhere we want to bring back to life?

That’s right!

Ambrosia, bitches!

Have a drink, MVP. You definitely earned it.

Before we end this surface-level slice of Jeong-Espinosa life, consider the false dichotomy between pleasure and pain. Consider our attempts to separate these concepts, creating a black-and-white world with inhabitants who can be constructed to experience only one or the other. Have we succeeded? Or, is someone always doomed to be the victim in a consequence-free system?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go scarf down some microgreens.

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