Voting is the most frustrating aspect of SimsFilmFest. We constantly hear how it is “unfair”. To understand voting we need to hop into our Wayback Machine.
THE FIRST SIMSFILMFEST
10 years ago Minraed Azreal created The Sims International Film Festival. Some of you may remember her, most of you probably don’t. She is not active in the Sims Community any more. She tells her story as coming across Sims 3 machinhima not ling after the game was released and was blown away with what people could do. She wanted a place where people could show off what they had done. An avid attendee of the Toronto International Film Festival, she decided to create a machinima festival for Sims 3 machinima modeled loosely after TIFF.
In order to get attention for the projects that were being submitted, she decided to let the community pick their favourites. Everyone in the Sims Community was encouraged to watch the entries and cast votes for their favourites. Her belief that all forms of creativity should be celebrated and appreciated – a belief that she made sure eveyone had before they were added to the staff – was the driving force behind the festival, and still is today.
This means that anyone can enter the festival. It doesn’t matter if they are just getting started making sims machinima or if they have been doing it for years. People can enter their first machinima or their hundredth. We want them all seen. We want people to look at the projecta and realize the time and talent and creativity that goes into them. We want the Sims Community to recognize its amateur film makers.
SIMSFILMFEST VIEWERS CHOICE AWARDS
What better way to engage the Sims Community and encourage them to watch the projects than to let the pick their favourites?
There will always be fan favourites. The reasons someone likes a machinima and votes for it are as varried as the people voting. People will always vote for their friends and directoramwill always encourage people to vote for them, but its not as much of a popularity contest as some think it is. There are directors that have 10,000+ followers on YouTube and yet, a very small fraction of those people vote. Having 10,000 followers on YouTube does not guarentee that someone is going to win. We have witnessed this season after season. The perfect examplenof this is OMG! That Girl is Psycho Productions. Tali was capable of winning awards with only 53 followers (she has more than that now) because tbose that participate in voting actually do watch all the projects in a category before voting.
We have always askes people to vote for their 3 favourite machinimas in each category. This helps offset people voting for their friends and any popularity factors. This also provides us with second and third place winners. We have no plans to do away with fan favourite voting, as it is what draws people to SimsFilmFest who do not make machinima.
In the early days it wasnt as much of a problem as we have seen in recent seasons, but we have always disqualified any suspectwd of cheating. Whene cheating of any type has been suspected we have done everything from having Masters and Staff pick the winners in a category to not awarding any awards for that category. People who try to win by cheating are not allowed back.
SIMSFILMFEST TECHNICAL MERIT AWARDS
The Technical Merit awards were designed to recognize not only individual aspects of machinima making but to give people a chance at awards who would not necessarily win a viewers choice award. For example, someone might have written an awesome story but they are new at machinima and their project may not be as good as some of the others. They should still be able to have their storytelking skills recognized.
These Technical Merit awards are chosen by The Masters and the staff. The last couple seasons we had a problem finding enough active Masters to vote on the awards so, as an experiment, we opened up the Tecnical Merit awards to general judges who were commited to watching every machinima submitted with the staff having final say in who the awards went to. We did notice a number of people voting for their friends, especially when it came to masters nominations. This is something we will not be doing again. Technical Merit awards will be decided by what Masters we can find and The Staff.
WHO ARE THE MASTERS?
The Masters of Machinima are those that have been decided to be the best if the best. The first Masters were handpicked by Minraed. Later it was up to those Masters to pick their peers and be awarded the title of Machinima Master.
These are the people who have mastered all parts of machinima making from storytelling and character creation to cinematography and music score. We have always felt that Masters would be the best judge of the technical aspects each machinima to pick the winners for these awards. I think everyone would be surprised at how nitpicky the staff is. We depend on the opinions of the Masters to temper what can be extremism on our part.
We have always tried to stay away from the judging process that goes on in rest of the community for events. We don’t want judges who are going to tell people what they did right and wrong, as art is highly subjective and so are peoples opinions. We are more than willing to provide feedback on technical aspects where people want to improve but there is no right or wrong way to present a story.
We don’t know how we could make things more “fair”. If anyone has any suggestions we are willing to listen.