The Sophomore

Last month, The Freshman ended on a high note at the Aurora music festival after a road trip with your friends. Now it's time to head back to school in The Sophomore! To make The Sophomore happen, the team behind The Freshman worked around the clock to set the scene for your second year of college. With the new book out in the wild, I managed to grab its writers for a few questions:

What does The Sophomore have in store for everyone?

Chelsa: We don’t want to spill all the beans, but I think we can safely say that it’s going to be a whole lot of fun! Sophomore year is when a lot of people work on finding themselves and figuring out their passions. We really tried to progress the storyline with the idea that these characters have been together at Hartfeld for over a year and show that through their personal and professional growth.

What's new and different about The Sophomore? How does The Sophomore put a fresh spin on The Freshman?

Saran: All your favorite characters will be back, but they’re slowly growing and changing, of course. We’re introducing a new ‘encouragement’ system that allows you to help your friends follow their dreams—and they’ll be inclined to help you in return. The biggest new feature is the introduction of the closet where you can see the full head-to-toe look of your outfit, just like in #LoveHacks. We’re also really excited about some new songs for the soundtrack debuting in this book!

Will we be meeting any new friends? Love interests? *wink wink*

Maya: It wouldn’t be a Sophomore book if you didn’t! There are some new faces coming in this book, both friends and enemies alike. As far as love interests go, you’ll just have to play and find out. Some Freshman players already know who your emerging love interest is, and boy do we have plans for her. There may even be new possibilities for some of your single friends!

What I loved about The Freshman was the way a group of unlikely friends were there for each other through the ups and downs of college life. More serious topics have been tackled in recent books. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Saran: Be warned: Spoilers up through Freshman Book 4 ahead! I think the college years are important for many because it’s a time of self-discovery and personal growth. In the last book, we delved into Zack’s breakup, Zig coming out to your friends as bisexual, and Becca struggling with her parents’ divorce. We wanted to show that these are part of the normal ups and downs of life. For players with similar experiences, we hope they’ll see that they’re not alone and others have gone through the same things.

Chelsa: I personally feel pretty lucky that the rest of my team feels as passionate and dedicated to some of these more delicate issues as I do. I suffer from anxiety myself, and have had many friends suffer similar breakdowns to the ones that haunt Zack in book four, and I hope that we showed people that it’s really, really important to create a conversation about it, especially with the people that love you.

Maya: It feels great when you’re represented in media you care about, and when it comes to bisexuality, too often it’s a sexuality that’s erased or skirted around. Regarding Zack, it was heartwarming to see how many players picked up on what he was experiencing and were full of support. We want to continue trying our best to dispel stigmas through our writing.

Who's your favorite character to write in The Freshman (well, now The Sophomore)?

Chelsa: My favorite character is Zig, definitely! I had so much fun putting together his look and personality when he was created for Book 3. I even have some Tumblr fanart of him as my phone background right now.

Saran: I’ve always been a fan of Twombly, myself! I appreciate her friendliness and comedic relief.

Maya: Becca! I’m so excited about the story arc we have planned for her in The Sophomore. She can be such a brat, but since meeting you, she’s developed this inexplicable urge to sometimes be... nice? What in the world is happening to her?!

For some of us, playing The Sophomore means reliving our college years. What was your favorite part of college?

Chelsa: Probably my Freshman year when I lived in the college dorms. One of the crappy things about adulting is all of your friends are busy with their careers, or live in different cities, or are getting married. I miss the days where if you were bored, you just went and knocked on the door next to you.

Maya: I personally really enjoyed my classes - what a nerd!! I also loved finding myself in this new place where I could be whoever I wanted. I remember walking to class at the beginning of my freshman year and telling myself ‘you are a smart, confident, beautiful person, and nobody here knows you well enough to think otherwise’. I basically faked it until I felt it, and then continued to build this sense of self throughout college.

Any tips or wisdom for current college students?

Chelsa: Something I still think works well for me outside of school is to remember to give yourself a break every once in a while. Sometimes the best way to study for a test or finish an essay is to take a step back and do something you enjoy for a little while. Staring at the same problem for hours doesn’t help you solve that problem. Also, if you’re not a morning person, don’t take a 7 am class. You will not get up for that 7 am class.

Saran: Get more sleep, don’t skip class, and take advantage of all the opportunities around you (seriously, there are endless resources on campus for finding internships, residencies, study abroad programs, grants, and more, and tons of people who will help you with any of them). Go forth and conquer!

To everyone reading along, what are your thoughts on The Sophomore? Let us know! And be sure to check into your game for new weekly chapters and more. The summer isn't over yet, and we've got more on the way!

-Jessica