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The Sims 4 - a baby in her crib Image: Maxis / Electronic Arts via Polygon

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The Sims 4’s 100-baby challenge is wild now

When vanilla The Sims gets stale, it’s time for a new challenge

Cass Marshall is a news writer focusing on gaming and culture coverage, taking a particular interest in the human stories of the wild world of online games.

The “100 Baby Challenge” is a trend that started with player Amiisays in The Sims 2, and was adapted for The Sims 4 by a player under the handle Snarky Witch. The original challenge was simple: one Sim, capable of pregnancy, must have 100 babies with 100 different donors, with no cheats or items that will restore the Sim’s youth. Players raced the clock in order to seduce, “WooHoo,” and have babies with 100 different dudes from around town.

As The Sims 4’s lifespan continues, and new mechanics pile on top of player mods, weird runs like the 100 Baby Challenge become easier, goofier, and more flexible than ever. Many of those original rules are out the window, as players come up with their own adaptations to allow for factors like Occult Sims like Vampires, or a Sim neighborhood where all the eligible donors have died of old age and been replaced with unsuitable randomly generated candidates. But 100 babies is still the landmark that players aim for, and they’re getting more creative with how, exactly, they acquire these babies.

The Sims 4 - a mother holds her baby Image: Maxis / Electronic Arts

One Sim, 100 babies

Everyone’s familiar with the core gameplay loop of a Sim: you make a person, they get a house and a job, and you ensure they stay alive. Maxis regularly releases expansion packs that add significant elements to the game. Some expansions are mundane, allowing you to learn to knit, go on vacation, or graduate from university. Some expansions have far more fantastic premises, like being a vampire, a wizard, a mermaid, or a financially successful freelancer.

Mallory Davis describes herself as a “diehard” Sims fan; she owns all of the expansions, and has sunk hundreds of hours into the game. She hated raising twin toddlers in the game; they ruined her Sim’s life. She had a much better time taking care of 12 toddlers at once in the same house, because it meant she was working at one of the series’ most popular challenges.

Davis’ 100 Baby Challenge has turned her Sim’s life into an utterly chaotic clown car of babies that reads as closer to a Coen brothers movie than a Sims game. Her neighborhood has an Action Plan (introduced in the Eco Lifestyle expansion) that decrees everyone needs to be horny. That means no sequences of flirting and potential denial — everyone’s DTF. Her Sim, a restaurateur and detective named Freida Knox, is part of a local swingers club, which brings singles together under the decree that smooching and flirting is good, and monogamy isn’t so great. With the help of the potion skill from the Realm of Magic expansion, Freida can spend all of her time flirting and WooHooing about town without worrying about pesky biological needs, like eating and sleeping.

All these quirks make for a hugely different 100 Baby Challenge than what people experienced back in 2014, when The Sims 4 originally launched. Back then, completing the challenge took more time — players had to acquire and seduce each daddy. There were no Vampires or Neighborhood Action Plans to make flirting faster; sometimes, a Sim could just find themself utterly unable to WooHoo with their initial pool of neighbors because they had no chemistry.

Players like Davis are essentially speedrunning over those initial efforts. The pregnancy part of the 100 Baby Challenge, under perfect circumstances and with no twins or triplets, would likely take around 120 hours (assuming pregnancies were chained and tested perfectly.) Players need to shave down the time between pregnancies by seducing and acquiring donors. If such a speedrun category existed, a save like Davis’ could be uploaded and titled something like: “100 babies Sims 4 speed run no needs, flirt skip, no vampire”

Children bring chaos

Candace, another player chipping away at her 100 Baby Challenge, likes to view her runs on two gaming monitors. While she does paid accounting work on one screen, she flirts and gives birth to babies on the second screen. “It’s like an art farm, but sexier,” Candace told Polygon over Twitter. “I just let it run and she just kind of does her thing.”

Candace has extensively modded her game in an effort to help her overcome some hurdles. Normally, a household only allows eight Sims to live there, but with a mod, Candace can remove that limit entirely and fill the house with babies.

Unfortunately she finds that the babies and nannies in her game glitch out. Support staff watch while the children squall, instead of intervening and helping. With half a dozen babies all present, there’s a very real danger that if one cries too long, the game’s Protective Services will take the child away, thus removing a baby from the challenge count. Luckily, a mod allows her to manually reset Sim routines, move Sims around, or force them to prioritize certain actions.

There’s also room for interpersonal drama, should players crave that juicy soap opera element. Some fans are split on what makes for a better run: keeping to one romantic partner to provide the hordes of babies, or calling multiple Sims over?

While smooching one of her butlers — a sexy silver fox — Freida was discovered by her husband — who was the father of eight of her babies. The two of them argued on and off, and Freida received such a sad mood toggle as a result that Davis could not get her to WooHoo.

Some players have spouse Sims work long hours, and sneak lovers in on the fly, so as to avoid conflict with their spouses. Others lock down one candidate for the stability, even though that Sim will be the main source, and a choke point, for producing 100 babies. After all, the dad needs to be present and up to WooHoo in order to produce kids, which means his schedule and mood must be carefully monitored. Original versions of the run banned monogamy, which was even more complicated.

Of course, with gameplay additions like the Vampire pack, players can work around problems like a disinterested Sim or a jealous husband. Vampires unleash a powerful cloud of pheromones that make their flirt checks incredibly potent. Vampires can raise children … although one player I spoke to said they struggled with maintaining a blood supply for their vampire matriarch and a full kitchen serving meals to their daywalker children, who were too young to drink plasma. It’s all about trade-offs.

The Sims 4, when played by a series veteran, can sometimes feel flat. Players have purified their neighborhoods of smog, graduated magic academy, have a whole lineage of wizards, and have solved the secrets of Strangerville.

For these fans, part of the fun in pursuing challenges is pushing the lifestyles depicted in the Sims to their greatest extremes. Even if it means dealing with 100 wailing babies.