It was a crisp winter morning and I, plagued by boredom, decided it best if I occupy myself with a good horror game. Needing guidance, I contacted one of my good friends who owned many horror games and would hopefully be a reliable source. He informed me of some currently popular horror games like Outlast and Amnesia. Not willing to spend my hard earned pocket money I turned to the internet, like one does, to look for cheap horror games. Unsurprisingly, despite my thorough search, I found no cheap horror games that looked playable or good.

Desperate I started to dig through my immense pile of games; sadly I found nothing of interest apart from a copy of Sims 3 that I have no memory of purchasing. Admittedly excited I inserted the disc into the computer and listened to the inviting and familiar whirring sound as the game started up. As a child I had often played lots of the Sims and was now sat that there barely attempting to contain the wide grin now stretched across my face. The smile widened as the title screen loaded up.

I hovered the cursor over the “New Game” icon and was about to click it but out of curiosity I checked to see whether any games were currently saved. They weren’t. Surprisingly relieved, I selected the new game icon and created a family of 3, the first a middle aged man called John Salsa who was married to the second Sim I had created, Marisa Salsa. The third Sim, their son, was called Eric Salsa. The game started normally. I chose a house and personalized it so it did not look so generic and boring.

After playing the game for most of the day, earning over 25,000 simoleons, I decided to call it a day, turned off the monitor, curled up in bed and slept.

I woke up early, eager to carry on my adventure in the Sims, and was surprised to hear an all too familiar whirring noise. I cursed at myself:

"I must have left my computer on!"

In a panic I raced to my feet and across the room. The monitor was turned off but the computer was whirring away. Frantically I turned on the monitor to be greeted by my Sims dotted around in various positions around an empty lot. Eric lay in the floor sleeping near a puddle of piss. John and Marisa were engaged in conversation. My mouth now lay ajar in a position of shock. All 30,000 simoleons were gone leaving me with nothing, not even a house. Still shocked I investigated further. John and Maria, previously close, were now enemies and the conversation that they were engaged in was an argument. I was surprised. I did not expect my Sims to break apart, let alone sell the whole house. Panicked I checked over all of my Sims. John, previously a fireman, was now unemployed and Marisa was now the only job holder in the family. Eric was in a terrible mood afflicted by a moodlet I had not seen before. It was simply called ‘Dave’. I had not seen this moodlet before and it was not very clear what it meant. I did not know any-one called Dave on the game or in real life. Determined to build a new house similar to the one lost I looked through the mailbox for a newspaper, sure enough I soon found one suitable for John's skill set. He now worked in the hospital full time and was earning 25 simoleons an hour. One of the first things I noticed was how low his job performance meter was, meaning he would probably get fired, despite just getting hired and I had not chosen to slack off or chat with co-workers. Confused and annoyed I decided to turn off my computer for the day making sure that it was properly off this time.

The next day I wasn’t in such a big rush to get on the Sims as I was still annoyed from yesterday. When I did finally sum up the guts to turn my computer on I was stunned to hear it whirring away. I was 100% certain that I had turned off the computer and I even sat by it for five minutes to see whether or not it was just a glitch in the system causing it to turn on. Worried for my Sims, I turned on the monitor to see a small shack with grey brick walls and a dark grey roof. Outside there were three gravestones with grey clouds hovering above them. As I moved my cursor towards the graves the clouds vanished. At first I was worried that all three of my Sims had died in the night and that I would have to restart. My panic was cut short when I saw the names on the graves, or I should say the lack of names. All three were simply labelled ‘Unnamed’. Determined to investigate further I looked inside the cabin. Instead of seeing what one might have expected, like a kitchen, all I saw was a set of stairs leading down into a basement. Thoroughly creeped out, I investigated further by panning the camera down into the surprisingly dark basement. Marisa and Eric were stood in the corner of the room arguing whilst John was no-where to be found. I selected John and clicked on the floor ordering him to walk there. After waiting for about five minutes I started to get impatient, even if he was on the other side of town it should only have taken him 30 seconds to arrive. Eventually he did arrive; his hunger was low as well as his mood, bladder and hygiene. There was no reason why all of his essential needs should be so low considering I had set the Sim autonomy to high meaning, when they were in desperate need of anything they would sort themselves out regardless of whatever I had said.

Although this might be why he was taking so long; because he couldn’t move or reach the items required to boost his needs. Maria and Eric took no notice as he entered, as to be expected of a Sim game, with a green fart cloud engulfing his body as well as a swarm of flies which hovered around him.

Almost as soon as he entered he fell to the ground and slept. I, being a nice guy, built a cheap stove, counter and beds just for my Sims. Checking over my Sims one last time, I noticed that Eric’s ‘Dave’ moodlet was now noticeably worse. Perhaps he had fallen out with a friend at school. I let John sleep for a bit before attempting to wake him up and send him back to work at the hospital.

But no matter how much I clicked or cursed at the monitor he would not wake up.

Angry but not wanting to turn off the computer, I waited and waited and waited but he would not wake up. Concerned I decided to check back on Eric, who just after I had started investigating John had run off. But when I switched to Eric to find where he had went, a message simply popped up ‘HELP’.

Startled I leant back on my chair which fell backwards sending me sprawling to the floor. A shiver made its way down my spine as I leapt to my feet. I stared at the monitor the message still there, curious but not any less cautious I pulled out my camera and took a quick picture before discarding the message. At first everything looked normal. Shack, graves, creepy basement. But upon closer inspection I noticed a boy. At first I thought he was just an uninvited visitor but when I zoomed in for a closer look I saw that the boy was wearing clothes unfamiliar to me and his mouth seemed wedged open unnaturally wide. His nose was hidden by his lips stretched up to under his eyes. I looked away horrified, the grotesque image still fresh in my mind seemingly painted into my eyelids. When I looked back it was gone and in his place was Eric, crying into his hands as if depressed. I checked his moodlets and as expected the Dave moodlet was increasingly worse dragging his mood down 500 points. With a moodlet that bad it must be impossible to get his mood high again. I put a name to the face. The grotesque image of a kid I saw before must have been called Dave and he was terrorising my family. Sheer terror surged through me as I shut down my computer, scared of what sleep might bring.

My dreams were filled with images of horror mainly the distorted and grotesque face of the boy. I awoke in a sweat, glad the delusions were not real. But my relief was ground back to earth when I felt eyes boring into me as if being watched. Instinctively I looked towards my window. There was no-one there. I shrugged it off as an irrational sense of fear, consequence of the earlier day. A familiar whirring noise made its way into my head as I looked over at my computer which was expectantly on. At this point I knew something was wrong and it wasn’t just a glitch, the game I had found had something wrong with it. Was it haunted or just modified?

Whatever I told myself about the game I still could not justify or make sense of it. I looked out the window again enjoying the calm before the storm, the storm being my Sims and the possibility of further modifications or ‘hauntings’. I stood up and approached the computer still fearful. I turned the monitor on to be greeted by John, Eric and Maria doing various things in the cabin that had not changed from yesterday. Eric looked too sad to do anything and John and Maria seemed to stay at least half a room apart. Whilst staking out the rest of the plot another message popped up, filled with dread I read the message ‘John has been stealing from work’.

Surprised by the light heartedness of the message I continued staking out the lot. I kept catching glances of the boy, Dave, in the corner of my screen just out of view. The first couple of times I moved towards him to catch a better look, but he always seemed to elude me appearing on the other side of the screen five minutes later. Nothing seemed different though. No changes through the night. One thing puzzled me though. John was unnaturally happy despite starving, shattered and stinking like a skunk. When I checked his moodlets one moodlet seemed unfamiliar. It was just as mysterious and unclear as the ‘Dave’ moodlet as it was simply labelled ‘business. I believed this a side effect of working but when I saw the +500 mood label I dismissed this theory. I had no idea what this could have meant and I did not know if I would ever find out. I could not concentrate due to the constant feeling of being watched. I kept turning around as to convince myself that no-one was there but I just couldn’t believe it. Someone was watching me.

I had no intention of playing for any longer so I shut down the computer and even went to the extent of unplugging before going downstairs to make myself a sandwich. The feeling of being watched dissolved as I left my room and half jogged downstairs.

It was hard to get to sleep that night as the feeling of being watched was painstakingly obvious. When I did finally slip into the dark abyss of sleep my dreams were troubled and I did not sleep easy. Images fresh in my mind I awoke to the skin pricking feeling of being watched. I looked around my room.

"No-one," I told myself, "there is no-one there."

But no matter how hard I tried I could not shake the feeling. I listened out for the whirring and my heart skipped a beat as I picked up the sound. My computer was on despite unplugging it. Grudgingly I trudged over to the computer to see what’s up. Turning on the monitor I plopped myself down onto my chair and stared up at my monitor. The shack I was looking at was the same but Marisa or Eric was no-where to be found wherever I looked. John however was down in the basement reading. Not too bothered about John I scouted out the lot. My heart nearly stopped when I looked at the gravestones, 2 of the 3 gravestones were now labelled. Maria and Eric Salsa. My eyes were wide. They were dead. Eyes now clouded with anger I cursed at the computer, half to Dave and half to the game, what was going on? Anger welled inside me as I caught sight of Dave again. “What do you want?!” I screamed at the monitor tears rolling down my cheeks as my arms were subjected to a series of fear induced spasms. I sat myself down face in hands painfully aware of being watched. After about 5 minutes I looked back up at the monitor cheeks bright red. I nearly lost it again as I read the message on the screen ‘Don’t be mad. They’re happy now.’ Tempted to break the disc I turned off the monitor. "It’s only a game. It’s only a bloody game!" I moaned through gritted teeth. It was at that point that I promised to myself that I would not go on the game anymore. That promise soon faltered.

About a week later curiosity overtook me. Something drew me back to that god-awful game despite promising never to play it again. The feeling of being watched had just got worse and worse until it was unbearable. Perhaps I could make the feeling go away somehow. When I got back on the game nothing had changed, despite the monitor turning itself back on every day of the week. John seemed a lot happier laughing manically to himself making me feel uneasy. His business moodlet had dramatically increased making him happier than I had seen him. Before being able to investigate further John started moving on his own accord, this did not surprise me but when I realized that I could not move the camera or interact with John I started to panic.

I cursed at the screen and checked over the mouse but I could not stop him. I had totally given up at this point and was ready to sell the game when John started down the basement stairs. I stared in awe as he travelled down the second set of stairs that had not been there previously. When he finally reached the bottom I was horrified to see piles of human flesh and organs piled up, blood seeping out covering the floor turning it red, even more horrified when he let out a cackle strangely loudly before submersing himself into the bloody piles of flesh. I was sick in my mouth a little bit and the tangy taste of bile made it hard to breathe. When the hospital said stolen items did they really mean….. Just the thought of it made me sick. Was John stealing organs?! John turned towards the camera and as he did a message popped up, ‘I’m watching you.’ My skin prickled as the feeling of being watched washed over me again. The cursor skipped to the graves.

Now all renamed. The first one read ‘Marisa, stabbed by her husband.’ The second ‘Eric strangled by his own father’ and finally ‘Dave tortured and mutilated by John Salsa.’ I had blamed Dave for all of this when really Dave was a victim. John was the problem. It was him all along. My heart was racing and just when I didn’t think it could get any worse I looked up at the webcam. I was nearly sick. It was on and pointed towards me and my bed which was on the other side of the room behind me. My fears had been confirmed, John had been watching me. Whether he was just a hack, programmed in by a hacker, or a real ghost, I will never forget his manic laugh he had let out at the sight of the flesh and guts. When John’s moodlet had said business as in ’his business’ did that mean he was killing more people? If so was that why it had taken him so long to return home? In a flurry of fear I snapped the disc in half and launched it out of the window. I gasped when a black shadow arose from the disc before disappearing. Had that just been my imagination? Not wanting to break the silence I sat there looking down grudgingly at my feet. Glancing something move in the corner of my eye I looked up.

An eerie and maniacal voice made its way into my head, seemingly bypassing my ears, "I’m free!"