10 years ago, not long after the launch of Sims 3, the Simatography website was started. The following year The Sims International Film Festival was hosted for the first time. The website is gone and this is all that remains of that first season
In the beginning the festival was open to only Sims 3 machinima and there was no set awards. The awards that were given out were done so somewhat randomly. Rules were made as needed.
Gus Rockman and I have been involved in some way with SimsFilmFest since pretty early on. In those early days we were figuring things out as we went along because nothing like this has been done before. Eventually it all become more structured but it was hidden away in a forum and you had to know where to look for it.
A few seasons back Gus and I had a conversation about how we just continued with the festival how it was originally set up because we were used to it, and it never dawned on us to change things. That meant we were keeping both the good and the bad and probably doing some things “wrong”.
One of those things that may or may not be wrong is what I want to address. We spent years helping people make machinima and showcasing the things those people made in the form of a contest. A contest where anyone could vote on their favourite machinima. You don’t even have to be a member of the Sims Community. We have always used those Viewer’s Choice awards as a promotion tool because everyone wants to give their opinion. The problem is, we focused on the machimators and ignored the audience until we wanted their opinion.
In hindsight, that was probably a mistake.
We have been exploring the decline in popularity of Sims machinima and why people don’t watch it. We have started to ask what kind of machinima projects people like and we’ve learned a lot of interesting things. One of those surprises came in the way of voice over vs. subtitled series.
We heard people who were entering the festival say “You don’t make Masters if you don’t have voice actors” and people slowly quit bringing subtitled projects to SimsFilmFest despite one of those Masters making subtitled projects. This is the last project Fadhil made before retiring from machinima because life happens.
The reality is that those that watch machinima prefer subtitled projects. Before discovering this, we had already decided we wanted to start doing an award for Best Subtitled Machinima. We want people to know that we welcome these projects, and projects that are in other languages besides English, and we would like to see a lot more of them. We don’t know where that idea started or when or why. I have theories, but no solid proof.
The bottom line is this, we need to do a bit more for the machinima audience. The audience is part of the machinima community, and it’s been ignored. Looking around the site, it does focus a lot on the machinima directors but there are things for the audience here as well, and we are adding more.
Website Features that may be of Interest to the Machinima Audience
• The Blog Area – If you are interested in seeing what the machinima making process is, there are blogs here that take you through some of that. You can also find random things that don’t quite fit in anywhere else.
• Festival Machinimas – This is really a promo area for the seasons festival entries. You can read about things before watching them.
• Festival & Site News – This is where we update with what is going on in the festival and changes made to the site such as new features. If you are going to spend any time on the site or follow the festival, you will want to check this spot out.
New Website Features with the Audience in Mind
We are adding a couple new features to the site with the machinima fans in mind. It will also benefit directors who haven’t been part of SimsFilmFest in the past and who may not know about it.
• Showcase Video Playlist – This can be found next to the site slider. This playlist is for machinima that we think a lot of people will like because it’s well done and a lot of times the sort of machinima videos that go viral.
• On the right side of the site we have started adding playlists. It’s going to take a bit of time to get all the playlists here that we want as well as get it organized effeminately and effectivly. We are committed to finding and sharing machinima outside of the cliche and overdone stories. Machinima’s that have not been entered into SimsFilmFest. You all know the ones I am talking about. We’re going to list them by type to help people find what they want to watch. There is also a New Machinima playlist that we will update once a week. We are going through the new machinima released and picking out the best ones for this playlist. Under consideration is a weekly column on these finds.
We welcome your feedback. Let us know what you want to see. Let us know what we can do to help breathe new life into Sims machinima and bring the audience back.