The Sims 4 Guides

Guide to Rotational Play in The Sims 4


Try a brand new play of playing with Sims 4 Rotational Play!

Have you been looking for a different way to play The Sims 4? Have you ever found yourself scratching your head about what you want to do with the kids of your Sims when they grow up and leave the nest? Do you want to play with multiple families in the same save but you’re worried about the Sims you’re not playing with growing old and dying while you’re playing with another household?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, rotational gameplay might be for you!

What is Rotational Play in Sims 4?

Wishing Well in The Sims 4

Rotational play is a style of gameplay where you play multiple households for a scheduled length of time so that all Sims are aging and progressing in life at the same pace. The length of time spent in each household varies according to the player’s preference but it’s usually either one week or one season. Rotational play is ideal for generational players who want to be able to play multiple branches of the same family as it expands. It’s also a good option for people who want to create an MCU-style universe with many different Sims and households that are all interconnected with each other.

Rotational play has been around for a very long time. In fact, rotational play was the only way you could play The Sims 1 and The Sims 2 back during their hey days. It wasn’t until The Sims 3 that the gameplay shifted more towards playing a single family while the Sims around them went about their lives on their own. The good thing about The Sims 4 is that it’s perfect for playing either way. You can play with just one family forever or you can rotate between multiple families. It’s very versatile in this way.

Setting Up Your Game for Rotational Play

The Sims 4 can be played rotationally very easily but in order to maintain control over so many households, you will have to make some changes in the game settings. Keep in mind that I will be showing you how to set up your game for rotational play in a way that I feel works best. This means we will be setting the game up to work very similarly to The Sims 2, where Sims will not age or progress while you are not playing them. If you don’t agree with my recommendations, by all means set the game up to your own preference! There’s no right or wrong way to play rotationally as long as you are having fun. I just find I have more fun when things are organized in a particular fashion.

Before beginning this new style of play, open up the Game Options while loaded into your save and open up the Gameplay tab.

Guide to Rotational Play in The Sims 4

The most important setting in this tab is the Auto Age (Played Sims) setting. This determines whether or not your played Sims will continue to age while you are not playing in their household. If you are playing rotationally, it is best to set this to Only Active Household. This means that only the household you are currently playing with will age.

The next setting you will want to pay attention to is the Auto Age (Unplayed Sims) setting. This determines whether Sims in unplayed households will age or not. This is entirely up to you. If you only want to rotate between a handful of households and leave everyone else to their own devices, you should check this box. If you do not want any Sims in your world aging up without you at all, ever, uncheck this box.

Next, select your lifespan. This is also completely up to your own personal preference. If you disable aging completely, you don’t even need to worry about the previous two options at all. Just set aging to off and go. If you want Sims to age, the previous two options become important. Select the lifespan you want to play with and the game will take into account the auto-aging options you’ve just set.

Everything else on this page is optional so just do up the rest of the settings however you like. The only really important thing is to make sure that if aging is enabled, that you have your Played Sims set to Only Active Household.

Guide to Rotational Play in The Sims 4

Next, you’ll want to make sure that the right households are set as played/unplayed. Go into Household Management under Manage Worlds and find all the households you want to play with on rotation. Move them into the My Households tab if they aren’t already. Look at the plumbob icon in the top left corner of their thumbnail. If it is solid green, that household is a played household. If it is greyed out, that household is an unplayed household.

You want all your rotation households you plan to cycle through to be played so they won’t age while you’re not playing with them. Quickly go into all their households in Live Mode to mark them as played.

Guide to Rotational Play in The Sims 4

If you have households that are marked as played but you do not plan to play with that household in your rotation cycle, click on that household and click the plumbob icon to mark them as unplayed. Then move them into the Other Households tab so you don’t get them confused with your played households.

And now your game is all set up for rotational play!

Tips for Rotational Play

Keep to a Schedule

Guide to Rotational Play in The Sims 4

Chances are, you’ll want to play an even length of time in each of your households so that everyone is aging at the same pace. Remember, we disabled aging for inactive households to give us a chance to play everyone without them growing old and dying on us. It’s easiest to remember the schedule if you’re playing one week or one season in each household but pick whatever length of time works best for you. Just make sure you remember it and stick to it. If you don’t, you may end up with grown kids who are older than their parents and other odd things like that.

Keep Your Households in Order

Guide to Rotational Play in The Sims 4

Before you start playing your rotations, come up with an order for your households. It’s okay if you have to change the order as kids start moving out into their own households but make sure you are keeping the households in a specific order. It will make it easier for you to know who to play next. I also find it’s helpful for forcing you to play those households you don’t find as interesting as your current favourite. You can use any way that’s easiest for you to keep track of the order; a notebook, a word document, a spreadsheet.

I like to put a little tag at the end of the household bio in game that tells me which rotation and round I’m on. Rotation is the current household in the order I’m playing. Round is how many complete cycles I’ve done through all my households. [RT 1* | RD 0] means this is the first household in my rotation order and I have not yet completed a full cycle through all my households. The asterisk tells me this was my last played household so at the end of their rotational period, I should move on to the household marked RT 2.

Of course, that is just my personal way of doing it. If that makes absolutely no sense to you, disregard it. It’s important that it makes sense to you so any method you come up with for keeping track of your household order and your last played household is what you should use.

Pick a “Dead” Time to Switch Households

Guide to Rotational Play in The Sims 4

One issue with The Sims 4 is that if you switch households in the middle of a Sim’s work shift, all the Sims will be at home and they’ll lose work performance. To avoid this, pick a time to switch households when Sims are not likely to be at work. I find 3am or 4am is best because even the night jobs in the game usually end their shifts before this time. Just something to keep in mind.

Try to Time Your Pregnancies

Guide to Rotational Play in The Sims 4

Even though your Sims are not aging while you’re playing them, any pregnancies in progress will continue. So if your Sim gets pregnant on a Saturday and you switch over to a new household on Sunday, that pregnant Sim will give birth on Tuesday while you’re playing in a different household. When this happens, you don’t get to go to the hospital with your Sim if you own Get To Work, which means you won’t get a birth certificate for the baby. It also means you won’t get to name the baby. The game names the baby for you. To avoid this, make sure you plan your pregnancies for closer to the beginning or middle of the week. That way, all babies will be born while you’re in the household.

Don’t Let Uni Get You Down

Guide to Rotational Play in The Sims 4

A lot of rotational players were annoyed with Discover University when it came out because it greatly complicates their rotational play style. It doesn’t have to be complicated, though!

The thing you have to remember about university is that semesters don’t pause when you leave the household. This means when you come back, your uni students will be on academic probation or expelled because they weren’t completing their finals and homework or attending their exams while you weren’t playing with them. The only way to successfully play a Sim all the way through university is to only play that household from the first semester all the way through until graduation.

But what happens to all your other households while you’re busy getting your Sims through university? And what if you have multiple Sims you want to send to university at the same time? Here’s how I deal with this problem:

When I send my Sims to university, I make sure I don’t have more than one household in university at a time. I will either have multiple Sims as roommates in the same household if I have more than one Sim going to university at the same time, or I will stagger the order of households going to uni. One Sim goes to uni with their siblings and graduates, then the next household, etc. Of course, this also creates the problem of having ages wildly out of whack between your households because your uni Sims will be much older than everyone else by the time they graduate. So I pull somewhat of a Sims 2 move here; I temporarily disable aging for everyone while I am playing a Sim at university.

When the Sim returns home, they will be the same age they were when they left and so will everyone else. Your Sims will have their degrees and you won’t have any weird age skewing going on. Just remember to turn aging back on once they leave university if you do play with aging on normally.

Why All This Effort?

Guide to Rotational Play in The Sims 4

You might think rotational play is too complicated and you have a point; it can be a bit complicated, especially for new players who aren’t used to The Sims 2 and The Sims 1 but for us oldies, it’s the classic way to play. It’s the way we played growing up by default. Now we just have more options to customize that experience to our liking with The Sims 4.

So to answer the question of why all this effort, it can bring back pleasant feelings of nostalgia for many of us. It can also be a fun way to keep your game fresh and exciting even after many generations. You’re always moving on to the next household so you don’t get bored with day-to-day monotony that never really changes. Rotational play can also keep you invested in not just your main family but their entire extended family and all their friends as well. It’s a way for you to create a whole universe within the game and widen your bubble. And of course, it’s great for control freaks who cannot leave a single thing to chance and people who enjoy obsessively documenting and cataloguing their entire playing experience.

So give rotational play a try sometime if you ever feel like doing something different!

About the author


A cranky old lady who prefers the company of cats and Sims over people. Occasionally peeks out from her lair long enough to chuck Sims articles at innocent bystanders.

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