Wednesday, April 17, 2013

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Interested in Mad Men Meets The Sims 3? I Need Your Help to Make it Happen!

Screen Shot 2013-04-17 at 3.00.01 PM
Iris Ophelia's ongoing effort to simulate
pop culture in The Sims 3

As much as I love Sim Downton, I have to admit that my desire to recreate historical drama doesn't begin and end at the Abbey. With the new season of Mad Men airing, I find my thoughts drifting towards the world of a mid 60s Madison avenue. Don't panic, this isn't the end of Sim Downton; if anything Sim Mad Men would be a mini-series running alongside Sim Downton.

However, unlike Downton Abbey, Mad Men doesn't lend itself easily to Sims play. Downton is in essence the story of a household (just like The Sims), while Mad Men is much much more than that. It's many families, many homes, and many workplaces... So suffice it to say there are a lot of challenges ahead of me on this project, if I want to do it right.

That's where you come in.

Thankfully the basic components are easy enough to find. I've already got a nearly perfect city, pictured above. The St Claire neighbourhood from AweSims comes complete with a bustling downton area, cozy townhouses, sprawling suburbs, and one hell of a skyline. The Sims 3 store, as well as the game's expansions packs, have also been very generous with mid-century fashion and decor items so that side of things shouldn't be a problem either. I even made a cute retro couple for fun recently (with their cigarettes ever in hand) so I'm pretty confident I could get the visuals down.

Midcentury minnie

So here's the part that's tripping me up... What the hell do I do with all the characters? I can't exactly have Peggy and Joan and Pete and Don sharing a quaint little bungalow together, now can I?

I have a few options:

 • I could make an apartment that looks like their offices and have the core characters "live" there as though they're crunching on a particularly tough project. But how long would that premise be interesting?

 • I could make several different households and follow each of them which would be much more work... And, because actual workplaces in the Sims are essentially black holes that characters vanish in to, there would be no chance for the kind of awkward workplace interactions that make up much of the show.

 • I could make one household, Betty and Don and the kids for example, and focus solely on them. Easy but again... That's not what makes Mad Men so good.

And of course, the biggest dilemma of all is that there is currently no functioning typewriter for The Sims 3. There are decorative ones, but to get any work done at all they'll be stuck in front of boxy beige machines from the not-so-distant future.

I'd love to make this work, but I'm just not sure how to get it right. Mad Men and Sim Downton fans, it's up to you: Let me know in the comments what you'd like to see, or what you think would work best, and help me bring Sim Mad Men to virtual life.

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Mixed reality iris 2013Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.

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Wolf Baginski

An interesting side-point on the typewriter problem: computers and the internet and other new technologies have made some huge changes in how some sorts of business work.

Maybe a part of the appeal of "historical" detective fiction is that the case is solved by the intellect of the individual detective. No DNA fingerprinting, for instance.

Can you imagine CSI: St. Mary Mead?

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