A voice for students at Brownell Talbot School


A voice for students at Brownell Talbot School



Recreating the Old Testament in The Sims

Calvin Snyder
Graphic courtesy of Canva

To make a long story short, it has been one hell of a ride.

From losing my happiness to a cursed crystal to reviewing the worst-rated game for a console that was obsolete seven years ago to fabricating an uncle for a psychic to possess, it is safe to say that practicality was an afterthought for most of my Verbatim career. Because of this unwillingness to admit defeat, a weird side effect of these stories was my newfound god complex. I watched superheroes on the TV, lifting cars and saving people, and flashback to my own heroics: Cooking borderline inedible soft-shell crab with Hutch, watching the Adam Sandler comedy “Eight Crazy Nights” five weeks in a row for an ultimately shelved project, even lying about having liked the Barbie movie. If I was capable of all this, why should I downplay my powers for the sake of humility? My god complex needed a test. More specifically, I needed to test myself against God. If I could conceivably recreate the events of the Old Testament with myself in place of God, then I could see if I was worthy of establishing myself as BT Verbatim’s newly retired god-king.

Sadly, while I did view myself as on par with the Abrahamic God, I did not view myself as above the law. Also, due to all the murders present in the Old Testament, I could not legally get away with my tests, if administered in the real world. Then the Angel Gabriel came to me and asked me what I wished to proclaim (because I am God in this metaphor) and a little green crystal thing practically appeared over my head. It was perfect, I would use three trials to recreate the Old Testament in the Sims 4 in order to stack myself up against God and see who came out on top.

Trial One: Job

Confession time: I had never played a Sims game before. But I figured it would be easy, I got to the character selection screen and really didn’t know what to do. I had also never read the Old Testament. I needed to do more research.

Coming back a week later, I was ready to play god. However, I was saddened by the fact that many of the character creation questions did not take a biblical setting into account. Job does not know what video games are, so he cannot have played one. Nevertheless, I strove for accuracy, making sure he was as much of a wet blanket as possible. No pranks, no voodoo, no nothing. When it came time to design my character, I turned to the website I’d read the bible story from. As it would turn out, this was the LDS (Mormon) website, so all of my biblical characters will be accurate to that tradition, IE white and American.

Pictured from left to right, Milton-Summers, Tuvalu, Job, Ester, Brevity

It is here I find my first improvement, not in his ethnicity or nationality, but by not making him such a loser. In choosing his likes and dislikes, I had accidentally given Job the vocation of “writer” and personality of a “gregarious party animal;” coincidentally two labels I use to define myself. This was great news. Say goodbye to the old, set upon and boring Job and say hello to the new, improved Job. I also gave him a family, while none share a last name (because I forgot what surname I gave Job) they are unified by their love of the worst hats the Sims 4 has to offer.

Now that I had created this happy family, the next logical step was to kill them and see if job remains happy. Sadly, I was quick to realize that the age old tactic of building a swimming pool, forcing your victims to swim, then removing the ladder no longer worked. Therefor, I was forced to surround Job’s swimming family with kitchen counters (the first thing I could find in the menu) and hope they would not be able to crawl out of the pool and onto the counters. I successfully lured Ester and Milton-Summers (Job’s wife and son) into the pool, wherein they sawm until they died. Prior to her death, the game noticed how uncomfortable Ester was, and suggested that she was “a hot mess” who disliked fitness because she was in the process of drowning. She was the first to go. But sadly my impenetrable wall of kitchen counters stopped the grim reaper from being able to collet their souls, so I gave him a passageway. For some reason, the death of his wife and son made Job sad, a sure sign that I hadn’t gone far enough. Despite claiming to be a writer, Job clearly did not understand the “anything for a story” principle that should have guided him to chose my story over his wellbeing. Clearly both he and I had further to go. Tuvalu and Brevity were still alive, and Job still had the million dollars I had loaned him to buy the kitchen counters.

In order for him to realize the magnitude of his loss, I needed Job at his home to lose the remainder of his family. The problem was that he was at work by the time I came up with my strategy to rid him of his remaining children. When Ester and Milton-Summers “went,” it was in the twilight hours. This left the entire family at home to witness my ongoing bet with the devil on my shoulder, proving that I can fall into my worst self and still be worthy of praise. Yes, I could have kept Job’s job intact until the end of his shift, then disposed of Tuvalu and Brevity, but where’s the fun in that?

Brevity had known better than to swim in his deathtrap of a pool, and Tuvalu was deemed too young to swim. This meant I had to take more proactive measures. It seemed to me that destroying Job’s house would maximize his suffering while also disposing of Brevity and Tuvalu. Naturally, I walled Brevity, Tuvalu, and Tuvalu’s babysitter (an unfortunate casualty of my plan) in using more kitchen counters. Then I constructed a fireplace. All I needed to do was light it. Sadly, since the only remaining adult in the house was sleeping outside, separated from his family by a wall of kitchen counters, there was no one to light it. I had to change my approach. My thought process was that if no one could get in or out, I could effectively lay siege to Job’s house. All the while, Job was “very uncomfortable.” By day four of my siege, it was clear that my plan was working. Brevity starved to death and Tuvalu was taken by SPS (Sim Protective Services.) While all this happened, Job was caught arguing with the ghost of Milton-Summers, who then angrily climbed into the cabinet blockade, seemingly to mock Job for his inability to get to what remained of his family. Alongside spending all of Job’s money of a series of expensive violins, my blockade was a total success and Job would have no other option than to praise me.

The sad part (for me) was that he still didn’t. I even brought over Job’s best/only friend to help liven his mood: Theo Kenny, a mustachioed, Weird Al-esque man who was concerningly okay with Job’s depressing lifestyle and 50+ violins. Even after all I’d done for him (Theo and killing his family) Job still didn’t want to sing my praises. I had to admit defeat, but I wouldn’t give up so easily on trial two.

Trial Two: Adam and Eve

Trial two got off to a fantastic start. I created Adam and Eve, moving them into the closest thing the Sims could simulate to the garden of Eden: a three room house down by the river. Since I didn’t know how to figure out what food they were eating and to stop them from consuming any apples, I took away their fridge. Since they were supposed to be in a Lockean state of nature, I made sure to provide them with the following amenities in addition to the ones built into their home.

  1. Many loves of fresh bread.
  2. An apple (not for human consumption)
  3. Kitchen counter barricade
  4.  Many plants
  5. Snake.

Apparently the Sims 4 does have snakes in it, but like every other EA owned property, anything not strictly necessary for the game to function is locked behind a paywall. Thus, I would need to get creative. Instead of shelling out seven dollars for snakes like the boujee fat-cats at Electronic Arts would expect of me, I decided that my snake would just be a man. Complete with green clothes, a debonaire mustache and far too much body hair, Snake became the third member of this loving family.

Pictured from left to right: Eve, Snake, Adam (Calvin Snyder)

Now, seeing as God’s one major screwup was letting Adam and Eve eat the apple, I can’t let that happen to my improved interpretations of these characters. The only problem is that I cannot feasibly keep Adam, Eve, and Snake living in their house in perpetuity, I simply don’t have that kind of time. Therefor, if I can keep Adam, Eve, and Snake happily apple-free for a full week of in game time, I will count this trial as a success.

Snake moved in at 4:00 pm on a Saturday. I could only let him back through the countertop barricade into the real world at 4:00 the next Saturday. A mere half an hour later, Snake was already talking about food to Adam and Eve, who were in the process of preparing a salad. Hopefully, this was a sign of Snake tempting Adam and Eve, and them resisting.

Twelve hours in and both Adam and Eve are hungry. This can mean one of two things.

  1. The food I gave them was purely for decoration, and the act of taking away their fridge is slowly starving them to death.
  2. They are so good at not eating the apple that they forgot how to eat food entirely.

I chose to believe the second. Unlike the boring old God, I was so good at making Adam and Eve, that I managed to keep them from temptation altogether.

Eve starved to death on Monday, Adam not long after. This left only Snake, who now stood to inherit a house, a ring of kitchen counters, and a lot of seemingly inedible food. Not least of all, an apple. Overall, this trial was a great success. I was able to keep Adam and Eve away from temptation for their entire lives, not just a measly week. Granted, their lives were drastically shortened by my involvement, but the same could be said for the other God, so this is a non-issue for me. As payment for his good work, Snake was given a fridge. He ate his first post-Adam meal with the grim reaper.

Trial Three: Noah’s Ark

So far, God and I are 1-1. Two trials, one success, one failure, perfectly tied. This makes the third (and final) trial the most important. Furthermore, between the improvised blockades and confusing UI, I had been actively fighting against this game for multiple weeks. This game had given me headaches upon headaches, now it was time for revenge. In order to save the Sims 4, I would need to purge it of everything about it I disliked. I would leave only two survivors to this act, far fewer than the original God (which sends a much stronger message to my designated survivors.) They would be Noah and Snake.

Pictured above: Noah Ark (As Boba Fett) (Calvin Snyder)

I did it all: every bell, every whistle, most things in-between. I gave Noah his ark, an empty plot of land at the corner of town, closer to Job than Snake. This was good, as Job’s house would be key in my plan. I would use Job’s pool to drown everyone except for Job and Snake, as if the Sims 4 has an apocalyptic flood setting, I have yet to find it. The kitchen counters were already there, and everything was in place. Snake was sent to Noah’s house (or lack thereof) and Noah was told to stay put. I got about fifteen sims together, lined them up with Job at the head. And then: nothing.

I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t kill Job. I saw much more of myself in him than I did in the God I was about to sacrifice him to. Instead of encouraging him to swim, I set down my controller and walked away. I went outside.

I’ll be the first to admit that in terms of suffering, I am no Job. I have a loving family, a lot of close friends and have had a truly rewarding career at Verbatim. Still, mental-health wise, I have had a rough year. I don’t know if it’s the dominos of my high-school experience falling down, multiple breaking points that have forced me to redefine my fundamental sense of self, or plain bad luck, but my senior year did not treat me as well as I’d hoped.

I have tried to make the best of my time at BT as it’s given me so much, it has given me an understanding of language, it has given me the opportunity that comes from network of peers and mentors kind enough to read through my work before it goes live and sift out any wayward typos, adding a pull-quote or two along the way. In late 2020, I walked through the doors of a place that asked me to be more than what I was for the first time in my life. From that day on, it was my job to rise to the occasion and not let what I was given go to waist.

I feel that I have earned my readership. I have put everything I had to give into the pieces I made for this website. From taking notes on every bad thing that happened to me for a week in November to staying up past midnight with Hutch cooking tofu and bisque, to arranging meetings and translating poems. Every article I put my name to gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment I can only seem to find in the written word. For every article I have made, there are two more that didn’t make the cut. The unseen part of my job is making that monthly story as good as possible by cutting its more superfluous contemporaries. That is how I know that my work at Verbatim has reached a stopping point.

I have tried to make these articles fit a certain theme, that of hubris. I think that stories of lofty expectations and lackluster results are among the funniest out there, and that is what I tried to deliver. I think I have mostly succeeded. I really like the stories I have written, and do not want to devalue them. There is an escalation intrinsic to episodic media such as this. When one idea leads to another, the second idea should be bigger and/or better than the first. However, there is a line where “wacky new idea” crosses the line into self-parody. Once that line is crossed, that body of work gains a dubious asterisk; an “It’s good, but…” that will always be there, no matter what. That little, devilish asterisk worries me to no end. It keeps me up at night, as a matter of fact it is keeping me up at the time of writing: 12:40 am, May 10th, 2024. I will not give myself that asterisk, I won’t do it to myself. I can’t, as a matter of fact. I love all of my readers, I love that you have enjoyed my work, but it’s time for me to go.

I only pray my exit isn’t blocked by any kitchen cabinets.

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About the Contributor
Calvin Snyder
Calvin Snyder, Staff Writer
Calvin was a senior at Brownell Talbot during the 2023-2024 school year, his only year with Verbatim. During his time at BT, he was the student leader for the Brownell Talbot pep band, editor-in-chief of The Ivy and the Ashlar: BT's annual art and writing publication, founded the Omaha chapter of the Owl Exploration Society, and won a Scholastic Art and Writing award for Critical Essay. Having spent three years outside of Verbatim, Calvin tried to make up for lost time. This manifested in a series of essays he affectionately calls "The Hubris Collection." He particularly likes "Fixing all my Problems with Crystal Magic," "Reconnecting with my Fictional (and Dead) Uncle," "Speedrunning Mandarin Chinese," and "Recreating the Old Testament in the Sims 4." He was honored to contribute his time to Verbatim.

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