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Tragic Sims 4 bug makes child protective services take away your kids

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This is too real, man

children playing on a playground in The Sims 4 Maxis/Electronic Arts

The Sims 4 tries to replicate reality, which in some cases means including a number of somber mechanics. Neglect your kids, for example, and the game will actually send a non-player character to take your virtual children away. The problem is that The Sims 4 is making it impossible for some virtual parents to do their duty right now.

Technically, The Sims doesn’t call it child protective services, but the mechanic is exactly that in all but name. In previous iterations, games spawns a social worker if certain conditions are met. As The Sims Wiki explains, this social worker will “will take away a baby, toddler, child, or pet if their needs drop too low, or in later games, if there are no more older Sims remaining in the household (i.e. due to death). They also will come to deliver adopted kids to their new family.”

The Sims 4 doesn’t have an actual person knocking on your door, but the game will still make your child fade away into nothingness if it determines that you are neglecting them. Depending on the situation, the game will sometimes warn you before it takes your kid away — like say, if the child is performing poorly in school.

According to player reports, the bug that can make you lose your children manifests in a number of ways. A ticket posted to EA support forums, for example, notes that a fan had her Sims’ kid play with a toy, only for that object to become permanently stuck on the child. From there, the child couldn’t actually do anything, including eat or sleep. The thread reporting this issue has 17 pages filled with similar issues on the forum alone, with even more reporting similar situations on social media.

“My poor little toddler was in such a happy mood, but now so angry for being hungry and having to go [to the bathroom],” one player says.

“When they try to go to sleep, they lay down then get right back up,” another says. “When they try to potty they sit down and stand up. When the parent tries to bathe them, the parent basically dunks them in the tub then back out.”

Given that building families is one of the major cornerstones of the modern Sims franchise, this seemingly minor bug has huge consequences for players trying to enjoy the game. It’s especially a burden for some popular in-game challenges that revolve around rearing children.

Many players are stumbling on this issue after their toddler picks up a tablet and then refuses to put it down. Others say that their kids are refusing to eat or sleep. Together, this glitch ironically makes raising a baby hilariously true to life — what kid isn’t obsessed with YouTube on the iPad? — except, in this case, the kid will never relent. It’s leading players to use workarounds, as EA has not yet patched the issue.

“I’ve had to use the debug cheat need because of the risk of taking them away since I can’t feed them,” one player says.

It’s not just that this glitch makes raising a family impossible: it’s that, if left unchecked, the game will swoop in and decide it means that you are neglecting your children. Some players are having their kids taken away, while others are on the brink of losing their offspring.

“My toddler was taken and the rest of the family is crushed with sadness,” a player on the EA forum says.

Maxis did not respond in time for publication, but given that the problem has been around for a couple of weeks now, hopefully a fix is on its way.