Making and Breaking the Sims of EA

BCM 114

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The Sims of EA has been my Digital Artefact (DA) for BCM 114 which I have been working on for the past 13 weeks. I wish that in this blog post I could be telling you that over this period of time I have been consistently and ruthlessly testing, prototyping and iterating my work. However, since my last blog post Prototyping the Sims of EA I have not further iterated, or even made any attempt to contribute to my DA at all.

Though don’t get me wrong! Earlier in the process of my DA I did cyclically iterate and prototype the ‘Sims of EA,’ and solved many issues such as;

  • Text length
  • Content Type
  • Hashtags
  • How I source my Sims
  • How I collaborate with others
  • My branding
  • The purpose of my posts

However, due to the unavoidable circumstances of life I have not furthered my DA since my last blog post.

The reasoning as to why can be best stated through Ken Robinson’s video on ‘Flourishing’ which states that “Human life and human communities are much more like organisms in the sense that we flourish under certain conditions and we fail under certain conditions, and our success is always synergistic with our environment.”

I have taken on new challenges in my personal life this semester which has meant that I haven’t had as much time to devote to my university work. Do I regret doing this? No. As some of these decisions have become a part of the best things in my life, however, my DA has definitely suffered from it.

Two solutions to solving this problem which I discussed in my Beta presentation for this project included;

  1. Consistent Upload Schedule

I desperately needed a better time management system. By creating a consistent upload schedule (as opposed to no upload schedule at all) perhaps would have given me some stability in the project and may have encouraged me to stick with it.

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    2. I Needed a Team

Turning the ‘Sims of EA’ into a group project sharing the workload, and having others to hold me accountable to the project would have been very beneficial to me.

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passion changes everything

It is true what Ken Robinson claims, passion does change everything. Even though I mentioned many excuses before as to why this project failed such as being busy, and not having team mates to contribute to the work load and help keep me accountable, I think that the main reason is that I just lost passion for my project. But that’s okay too.

For this type of project failing is just as good of a result as a success IF you learn from it, and can apply the learning curves to your future work. For example, from this project I have learned that;

  • I really enjoyed the creative, storytelling part of my DA, and that I could do it quickly and easily.
  • I need to make a schedule for uploads and work hours and to stick to because I have a busy life and like having a busy life. Without giving myself deadlines I will forget about my work, or see it as not as important as other things that I do have deadlines for.
  • Working on solo projects is very hard for me. As an extrovert I get my energy being around other people, and therefore I can very easily get motivated in group settings.
  • Finally, I have learned that sometimes working as a part of a group, and relinquishing some control of my ‘precious ideas and vision’ will have much better effects in the long run of a project.

 

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Prototyping the Sims of EA

BCM 114

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As you all know, for the past 10 weeks I have been working on my Sim photoblog, ‘Sims of EA’ -inspired by ‘Humans of New York.’ Over this semester I’ve had a lot of difficulties with this project, however I have also managed to hit some milestones along the way. For example, I had a follower directly submit a Sim to be featured on the page which was not something that I was expecting to happen at all this semester.

…And I hit 100 followers! Which allowed me to view my demographic insights.
100 simmers wooThroughout my struggles of time management skills, story and character development and scouring Reddit and Tumblr for sims to feature I have learned a lot about my audience’s likes and dislikes about the ‘Sims of Ea.’ Here are some of my most valuable learning moments that have helped me develop this project…

#Hashtags are a god sent

An obvious one, but very important! Hashtags give Instagram posts so much traction. They allow your posts to be viewed by so many different accounts which helps connect your content to people who will like it, which therefore allows you to reach a larger audience and gain a following. Through some trial and error I have established my core hashtags which relate to every post, such as #sims #sims4 #thesims #thesims4 #simstagram, along with this I also use a variety of other hashtags which are relevant to the individual posts. [Input: Hashtags.  Output: More followers and engagement.]

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People don’t necessarily like long text

As I’m using Instagram (a photo heavy platform) for my DA I’ve realised that people don’t necessarily want to read long amounts of text. I’ve discovered that I need to have really captivating images to draw people into my post, and that I need multiple images that tell a story visually to allow for less text. [Input: Engaging photos, less text.  Output: More likes, more views.]

…But at the same time they like a story

However, having no story at all wasn’t well received. Finding a happy medium between a short, sweet, yet in depth look of a character/storyline that’s enough to capture the moment and bring some inspiration without being too long and rambly. [Input: Medium length text.  Output: More engagement, more likes.]

People like empowerment

Diversity and representation is important, I think that using ‘Sims of EA’ as a medium to represent and empower minorities will be better received than ‘just another joke page,’ or ‘just another cliché Sims storyline filled with cheating, backstabbing, teen pregnancy and killing off spouses for money.’ (Trust me, I tried this with Simulation Mindy and she wasn’t well received by non bcm folk!) If I peel back some of the layers of this DA and shift towards a heavier ‘Humans of New York’ influence by giving ordinary people a voice (but through fictional characters and storylines) my DA will flourish. Rather than creating inspiration for Sims 4 gameplay. [Input: Representation of minorities.  Output: More engagement, more likes, more comments, more reach.]

 

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My digital artefact is still in the very early stages of it’s development and there is a lot more that I want to do with the page before it even gets close to reaching it’s full potentials. This includes, creating a regular upload schedule, finding the perfect mix of images and text length OR find a platform that better suits my DA, and most importantly, I want to create a strong sense of community through my digital artefact. I want it to be a space where people feel as if they are represented, and feel that they can send in sims, suggestions and storylines that resonate with them.

Ideating the Sims of EA

BCM 114

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Welcome, to this incredibly long blog post that gives insight into the ideation stage of my digital artefact the “Sims of EA.”

Instead of instantly revealing to you exactly what my digital artefact is, I think that the best place to start this blog post from the start of my ideation process. This way you can receive the full picture of how the idea of my digital artefact was developed.

After partaking in BCM 112 last semester and working on a digital artefact that I had no care for I had to start again from the beginning. What initially prompted my ideation process were the design questions laid out in the pitch format guide;

“In what area am I knowledgeable? What project would I want to continue if I could? What do I enjoy doing/feel strongly about? What do I know more about than most people around me? What communities have I identified around these interests? What communities of users of [something] am I a part of or familiar with?”

After some consideration I decided to stick with basing my project around The Sims. The Sims is a game that I’ve been playing since I was six or seven years old. Furthermore, ever since my discovery of social media at the age of 12 I have been heavily involved in the sims online community.

Firstly, I decided that I had to tackle the sad but true issue of boredom in the game. Now don’t get me wrong, I like all of the other hard core sims fan absolutely love the game. However, when you’ve been playing a series of fairly similar games since the year 2000, gameplay can become a bit monotonous. Whilst there are some ways to spice up gameplay such as game packs and mods, each of these methods have their drawbacks.

What simmers need is a way to change up their gameplay without any of those additional add ons, and the way to do this is through how they play the game itself.

Another issue with the Sims that I wanted to tackle in my DA is a feature specific to the Sims 4 called the gallery. The gallery is a feature exclusive to the Sims 4 which allows players to upload, share and download their sims and house build creations. However, the gallery has become a highly oversaturated platform with large volumes of similar content. Furthermore, people tend to have a certain playing style. Hence looking for sims and storylines outside of a players style can be difficult and almost pointless on the gallery as you’re essentially searching for something you can’t conceive.

In summation, here is the starter pack of the people my DA is tailored to.
Sims of EA starter pack

Now for the reveal of my Digital Artefacts concept…

Sims of EA is essentially a curated version of the gallery. It is a platform for people to feature their sims and spread inspiration for gameplay and create a sim. I want the Sims of EA to be a diverse platform, full of many different sims and storylines, suited to multiple gameplay styles. The Sims of EA is currently being run through Instagram, which you can find here.

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The process of how I run the account is different at the moment to how I foresee it to be run in the future. Currently, I source my featured sims from platforms such as Reddit and Tumblr as these are platforms where people like to showcase their own creations. When I see a creation or a storyline that I find unique I then reach out to the person and ask if I can feature their sim on my page. For example, this is a screenshot showing how I sourced my first sim Missy Books when I was just starting the project.

missy books origin

The ultimate goal would be to eventually have people submitting their creations directly to me either through email or direct messaging on Instagram. I have had one person directly contact me through Instagram in the hopes to feature a sim one day, but so far they have not recommunicated with me.

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Furthermore, the way that I curate my individual posts have been different to how I originally foresaw them to be, and as of yet I have not chosen a distinct style. Originally, as stated in my Instagram bio I wanted my project to mimic the  ‘Humans of New York’ Instagram page which includes a picture of the individual and a quotation as the post text.

use thsi one

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However, as I have developed my idea from being a curated version of the sims 4 gallery to being a space that encourages different styles of gameplay the way that I present the sims have changed. For example, in my most recent post I finish the description of the family by saying;

“All three sims are young adults, skill less and at the start of their careers. This family is a great one to play as if you’re a fan of working your way through your sims careers in a rags to riches style of gameplay.”

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Another aspect of my project that I have been testing is follower engagement through Instagram stories. I have recently recoloured my profile picture from a plain white background (as the actual EA logo is) to a more colourful  version of it. I feel that this recolour of my profile image represents diversity that I plan to represent in my project, and the inclusion of the audience in the decision to change it will hopefully create the idea of my digital artefact as an interactive community space.  

Finally, the last feature of my digital artefact that I’m testing is the idea of creating an editor character for the Instagram page. This character will appear in the Instagram stories and will give insight into upcoming projects that the account is working on. Thus far there has only been one story post featuring this character, however, I am hoping this editor character will make the audience more willing to connect and interact with my digital artefact.

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It’s clear that I have certainly been thinking a lot about the function and future of the Sims of EA. Currently, I am in the observing phase, where I am testing a bunch of different ideas and seeing how my audience reacts to them. I am very excited to get to the stage where I can clearly define every aspect of my digital artefact.

Too saturated for the truth

BCM 111, BCM 114, BCM 206

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After the invention of the telegraph people were forced to shift from the process of slow moving information to a word of rapid global communication. Shortly after people began questioning this shift, asking “What need is there for the scraps of news in ten minutes?” claiming that the invention of the telegraph had resulted in information spreading “too fast for the truth.”

The creation of the internet and the widespread access of it has only further propelled this notion of information spreading “too fast for the truth.” Now that everyone has the ability to instantly communicate information, ideas, and memes to a global audience we have entered an era of information overload. This information overload creates problems such as fake news, and an imbalance of useless to useful information ratio. Hence, my iteration is a representation of our modern information landscape which is, and perhaps forever will be “too saturated for the truth.”