Annotated Bibliography: The Adventures of Mindy Farmer

My Digital Artefact:  The story of a Sim, Mindy Farmer, who struggles with finding herself again after her partner’s tragic, premature death.

Screenshot-62.jpg
A screen-portrait of Mindy Farmer, the protagonist in my Sim story.

 

#1 – Alice & Kev

This source is a WordPress site which details the story of Alice and Kev, two homeless Sims. I found the method of storytelling easy to follow and navigate through using chapters in one category to keep the story aligned, and the way the author used only two Sims to tell the story kept it focused. Although this site tells a detailed story and has links to various downloads for the Sims 3, it lacks a coherent view of the entire Sim world. This is a gap I’m aiming to fill in my own artefact. Instead of merely a story, I feel it would be more effective to include some ‘how-to’ videos and hacks for the game to accompany the narrative of my character. Similarly, this site is limited to photographic media for storytelling. I have expanded on this through using a combination of pictures and videos for maximum audience engagement.

# 2 – Drake Family Secrets

This site covers a much more detailed story of a Sims legacy. Although ‘Alice and Kev’ gave me the initial inspiration to do my own story, the layout and detail in this site is how I plan to structure mine. It includes a family tree and character bios, which I found really helpful in understanding the story. It also features a voting element whereby the audience chooses the character they wish to lead the story, for each generation. I found this to be a really effective way to reach out to an audience and I hope to adapt a similar traction via twitter. However I did find the content to be a little too dense; there was a lot of material that I felt required a very deep understanding of game design and development (of which I lack) and it hindered my ability to connect with the website as a whole. This is something I’ll attempt to avoid in my blog, to make it simple and accessible for a wider audience.

#3 – Writing while the Rice Boils

This site is a source of inspiration for writers. It features a collection of generators to provide ideas on plot twists, titles, characters and more. The purpose of this site is to assist aspiring novelists with their creations. It was published by an author, Debbie Allen. Although it in no way is related to the Sims, I have used it regularly in the planning of my story and in naming my characters. It’s a source I will regularly come back to in the process of creating this story because it generates random ideas I can adapt to keep my story wacky and interesting. One downfall is that not all the great ideas the generators come up with are adaptable for the Sims (e.g. witnessing a murder), however this is something I can attempt to overcome through effective story-telling and manipulating or photo shopping pictures and videos to make the story happen outside of the Sims console.

#4  Life’s Stories

This source is a magazine article which explores the way in which people create narratives in their mind to describe their lives, or events with them. It explains how we picture ourselves as ‘actors’ in a particular role or stereotype and how we view people around us as having a particular purpose, for example the neighbour’s baby cries next door for the purpose of keeping someone awake. This insight heavily impacted upon how I formed the supporting characters of my story. Each person exists in a role and has a purpose surrounding the protagonist, Mindy. Under the premise discussed in the article, I feel I was able to create more realistic people with legitimate motives to enter and exit the story as I need. The true purpose of each character’s existence is much more explicit and relevant to the story.

#5 – Story Structure in Short Stories

This site, published by a successful author, details simple steps of writing a concise short story. It breaks down seven steps which are necessary for a circular narrative. Although it’s a very basic learning curve, it assisted me greatly in planning my DA. This is because I’ve never used the Sims to create a narrative and I was worried it would be easy for me to lose the essence of the story and merely end up posting what my Sims were/are doing. This source has ensured my strict plot will travel through the story and make sense at the end. It touches upon the notion of writing a short story about decisions and their consequences and argues that decisions are at the core of every effective story. I disagree with this conclusion; my story follows the aftermath of a horrifying event which no-one had any control over and although the decisions made after that incident continue the story, I feel that the core event had nothing to do with decision-making and thus that is not the basis of my story.

#6 – Are we all Sims?

Although I’ve seen many Facebook jokes on this topic, this article is the first I’ve come across that approaches the topic seriously. It focuses on the phenomenon of virtualisation and the work of philosopher Nick Bostram which suggests we may all be part of a large computer experiment whereby post-humans research their ancestry or use us for pure entertainment. Reading this article has actually changed the way I play the Sims. Viewing and creating a computerised world could in essence be what a post-human is doing to me, and Sims have the ability to play the Sims on their own computers. This paradox has impacted on my artefact through my treatment of it as more than a game. I aim to throw stimuli at my Sim to understand, through her given traits, how she acts. I am unsure of how much my thoughts on this issue will be apparent in my final artefact so therefore I will write a blog post to further discuss the issue, as part of it.

#7 – Eight types of Sims Players

This blog post discusses eight ways in which people play the Sims game and why. I found it to be particularly interesting on top of the previous source (above) in discussing why so many people make versions of themselves and their families on the Sims to reflect real lives. This is a concept I intend to build on in the tangent segment of my artefact blog. It assisted me in planning out my story; I used the motives of players to make my story relatable to a wide audience. However, I feel that this source was too finite. Although I agree with each motive presented, there are more ways in which to play this game and make these worlds. I will build upon the ideas discussed in this source to combat its lack of content.

#8 – Self-Portrayal in a Simulated Life: Projecting Personality and Values in The Sims 2

Even though this site is based on an older version of the Sims than I currently use, the ideas are still relevant to my artefact. It builds upon the ideas in the above source, namely that people ‘act out’ aspects of themselves and their own lives on the Sims. It argues that the gibberish language spoken by Sims accompanied by random, imaged speech bubbles when they talk encourage the player to ‘unconsciously fill in the missing details’. An experiment undertaken (detailed in the source) showed a correlation between physical appearance of the user and the appearance of the Sim they created, however the sample was very small so the results cannot be considered conclusive. This source helped me to understand the science around this video game. It helped me to realise that there’s so much more to the world of the Sims than just the game. This inspired me to go one step further than just blogging Mindy’s story; I have now created a category called tangents which I intend to fill with posts which relate to the Sims but are outside of my story.

#9 – Simself

This source is YouTube channel which tells the story If I had You via video episodes. The Sim characters have cleverly been crafted to tell an intense romance story, however the actual videos are merely stills put together with captions and music. It would have been more effective to have videos filmed on the Sims incorporated into the channel to make the story seem that little bit more real. I enjoyed how the source employed alternative entries to the world, such as Q and A’s and factual videos. I received the idea of using YouTube as a second platform from this source and also the power of using music to tell a story, from this source.

#10 – The Sims 3 Community (Official Site)

This is the official page of the Sims 3. It has an abundance of content, including information, tutorials, discussion forums, polls and links to YouTube videos. The many interfaces into the Sims world inspired me to use a variety of platforms (such as Twitter and YouTube) to sell Mindy’s world. Despite all the effective content in this source, it’s very impersonal and generic, which I feel limits the audience’s experience. I strive for my blog to be relatable, which I intend to do using Mindy’s persona. Although it provides me with an abundance of resources and inspiration, it’s not the style of artefact I wish to produce.

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