The Sims 4 | Analytical Framework

Participatory Media Culture

Discrete-Event System Simulation describes simulation as the ‘imitation of the operation of a real-world process’ p.4, as this directly relates to The Sims 4. Considering the participation elements of The Sims 4 I considered the analytical framework proposed by Reassens. Reassens explores the difference between “cultural participation and Participatory Culture. It is interesting to note that as a previous player of the sims 4 I found myself in the participatory culture. Once I had started my digital artefact, I was less passive and although I played less, I found myself within the paratext of the sims 4 more, concerned more with modifications and online communities.

Raessens explains, construction is understood as the addition of new game elements, can exist in the making of new games or—and this is much more common—the modification of existing games, described as ‘‘to deconstruct and alter an existing system for the joy of it’’ (Raessens 2005, p. 381). This is perhaps one of the most obvious examples concerning the sims 4. Further explaining “the users can extend or change the text by adding their own writing or programming’’.

My Analytical Framework

My analytical framework consists of three key concepts: Simulation, Modification and Paratext. The concept of simulation is important when we consider the Sims franchise. Besides the obvious example of virtual reality, it is not prominent to see a videogame simulate reality. Obvious examples include Cities Skylines and Truck Simulator; however, the Sims attempts to simulate life itself. The Sims franchise follows an important principle explored throughout virtual reality – planning a process to monitor the factors that eventually lead to results – manufacturing a system that gives a visual environment to all the players involved (Mujber & Szecsi 2004, p1836).

The idea of learning how the game operates – by extent the simulation of life – eventually leads to players learning to code the game (Wark, 2006, p. 128). As spoken about in my previous blogs, Simulate the World Pitch on oryemajok.com. Players become developers due to modification. As I mentioned before, the accessibility to create and apply modifications in the Sims 4 is encouraged. Games cannot truly decentralise without modification (Smith 2009, p.25). Therefore, the decentralised network encourages the players to become the main source of innovation.

As stated in my beta video, the concept paratext became essential to my analytical framework. providing a productive framework for game scholars has been successfully utilised in several subsequent studies (Fiadotau 2015, p.85). The access players have to custom content and mods (modification) indefinitely improves the gaming experience. Entire online communities are built on this fact, I have noticed comments on Reddit where players prefer to download a mod for free, rather than pay for an expansion pack from the Sims 4. As stated, “There is nothing new about paratext attempting to frame or shape the players’ experience of a game” (Fiadotau 2015, p.87), furthermore, thus providing a “more direct insight into their authors’ and communities’ tastes, beliefs, and values” (Fiadotau 2015, p.88).

Peer Commentary 2

My second round of peer commentary was a lot more positive; I found the value in my comments was the praise gave to things my peers had done well. as we were all concluding our digital artefacts, I felt no need to give any suggestion, we were all short on time to make serious changes to our digital artefacts. Therefore, I focused on what they had done well.

as I mention in the first peer commentary, passive feedback is received better, and can therefore be more effective.

I was overall impressed by the betas; however, I just had a couple of concerns about timelines. I also found concerns as to whether students would have enough time to finish their digital artefacts on time. Perhaps this was something I should have considered more when planning my digital artefact.

References:

Raessens, J 2005, ‘Computer games as participatory media culture’, J. Raessens & J. Goldstein (Eds.), Handbook of computer game studies, pp. 373-388. 

Fiadotau, M 2015, ‘Paratext and meaning making in indie games’, Journal of Comparative Research in Anthropology and Sociology, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 85-97. 

Mujber, ST Szecsi, T & Hashmi, MSJ 2004, ‘Virtual reality applications in manufacturing process simulation’, Journal of Materials Processing Technology, vol. 155-156, pp. 1834–1838. 

Wark, M 2006, ‘Digital Allegories (on The Sims)’, Grey Room Inc. & Massachusetts Institute of Technology, pp.126-138. 

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