(Cut quote from The Grapes of Wrath.)
Historically, the Great Depression began with the stock market crash in October of 1929 and ended with the US getting involved with World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Even today, a single cause can’t be pinned down, but the consensus is that the Depression was a result of high consumer debt, poor regulations of the stock market that allowed over-opportunistic loans to investors, a lack of high growth new industries, an already weakened world economy in the wake of World War I and a growing disparity between the wealthy and the poorer classes. Whatever the cause, the results were clear: people stopped spending, they lost confidence in the economy, and production ground to a halt.
Some industries suffered worse than others. The hardest hit included agriculture, especially in the heartland where the infamous Dust Bowl occurred; shipping; mining; logging; and durable goods, which included things like appliances and automobiles and other non-essential items. The excesses of the Roaring 20s had no place in the frugal 1930s.
Though the market crash played a part in the start of the Depression, its most lasting affect may have been the lack of confidence in the economy that it created. Up until that point, most Americans felt that things were great, and even when there was a bump in the road they felt it would get better. After the market tanked, sentiment shifted from positive to negative. Most Americans did not believe that things would get better, and that pessimism helped to prolong the Depression.
About a year after the crash, banks began to fail. People had borrowed money to buy stocks, and now they could not pay their loans and they began to default. Bank failures spiraled as people who did have money in them withdrew it, and there was a hoarding of currency that kept the economy sluggish.
The economy bottomed out during the winter of 1932-1933, and there was a bit of an upswing for a while, thought the gains were not able to overcome the losses. In 1933, FDR was elected president, and many of his New Deal initiative helped to move things along. There was a relapse in 1937 when the economy went into recession, but things didn’t return to pre-market crash levels until the US began intense military spending in the wake of getting involved in World War II.
So that’s your history lesson for the day. But the real question is: what does this mean for the legacy? Well, as any legacy player will tell you, things are pretty cushy by the time you reach the seventh generation. The house is built, there’s a ton of money, and the only reason to send a Sim to work is to get them perma-plat via their LTW. But that’s going to change in a big way when I start to play the winter rotation.
Based on real facts and figures from the era, here are the restrictions that I’ll be playing with for the next two and a half rotations.
Fact: Homebuilding dropped by 80% between 1929 and 1932
Restriction: No new homes can be built. Any new families must move into an existing home, no matter how old it is.
Fact: Between 1929 and 1932, the income of the average American family was reduced by 40%.
Restriction: I have hack that will lower the wages of Sims. Since Sim salaries are still rather ridiculous, I also have a hack for higher bills to balance things out. Returning college graduates will no longer get $20,000 to start out with; I have a hack that’s changed that. And no more life insurance policies when elder Sims die either. No hired help. All gardeners, maids, butlers, etc. must be fired. No service Sims can be hired.
Fact: Many people became ill with diseases such as tuberculosis (TB or consumption).
Restriction: No curing sick Sims. If they get sick, I hope for the best.
Fact: Nine million savings accounts were wiped out between 1930 and 1933.
Restriction: Each family will be assigned a random percentage that their family funds will be reduced by through a hacked computer that allows me to donate to charity.
Fact: New York social workers reported that 25% of all schoolchildren were malnourished. In the mining countries of West Virginia, Illinois, Kentucky and Pennsylvania, the proportion of malnourished children was perhaps as high as 90%.
Restriction: Once the fridge is emptied, only food that Sims have grown or caught can be eaten. The only exception is if a Sim opens a business to sell home-farmed and caught food. Somewhat related to this: Sims may only use the sewing machine to make new clothing. No more buying it from community lots.
Fact: In 1932, 34 million people belonged to a family with no regular full-time wage earner. 25% of workers and 37% of all nonfarm workers were unemployed.
Restriction: 25% of the Sims will have to quit their job. Names will be drawn at random from a listing of those who have jobs at the start of the winter rotation. College students returning home can check the paper for a job every day, but may only take the first job offered and then only if it is related to their LTW.
So that’s what I have planned for the Bradfords and their family over the next few rotations. I think the restrictions will add a little authenticity to the story, as well as make game play a little more challenging for me. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. And I hope that you found this little meta informative.