which is where i post my sims creations on from now on

04/06/16: Introduction!

I finally got around to posting my first entry on this mumblr, and I have to tell you, I’m really excited! I’ve been meaning to do so for a while now but moving and just *life* got in the way. Well, I guess I’ll start by introducing my little family and I! 

I’m Isabel, but you can call me Izzy if you want! I’m 24 years old and am the lucky mama of Kiara, who just turned two a few weeks ago. She’s an absolute sweetheart and I don’t regret having to leave Royal New Zealand Ballet when I unexpectedly found out I was pregnant with her (well, almost, ahaha… I miss being a ballerina!). At first the news was absolutely horrible because it meant giving up my lifelong dream to dance, but now I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. I love Ki to bits and I can’t wait to document her adventures on this blog!

That’s Ki’s dad, Noah. We met in Wellington when we were 16, when I was there training at RNZB. My life as a professionally studying ballerina made it pretty hard for us when we began dating, but 6 years on Noah and I have an adorable baby daughter (no matter how accidental Ki’s creation was…) and we are engaged, so I guess we did something right! The date for our wedding is in spring this year, so just a few months away. 

Since I became a wedding planner after Ki’s birth you can imagine that I am more than excited for the day to arrive! I’m going dress shopping soon, too, so maybe I’ll do a post for that. 

We live in a cute little town near Christchurch (my hometown) now, which we picked out because of the gorgeous beach and quiet atmosphere. The locals are so friendly too, and it’s culturally diverse too because New Zealand is well, New Zealand. It’s close enough to the city though so I can visit my friends and family all the time. And since it’s winter here, we’ve been lucky to have lots of snow days lately, which Ki just loves! 

That’s it for now, I think. I am super excited to see where this blog goes, and to meet new people, especially from around the world. Hopefully I can make a little post about Kiara in a few days, so I’ll see you then!

Curtain call

This is gonna be a [really, really] long read, so you might want to take some time to read this. I took all my time to phrase this just right so I could really put out what I’ve wanted to say for quite a while now. Thank you for your patience.

The word is out! My interview with @lily-pierce for The Interview magazine is coming out very soon. It’s a major step for me to finally explain what’s been going on with me and why it has led me to take the decision to retire as a creator for good. You might as well consider this to be my farewell post. 

I’m going to take you all the way back to the year of 2007. I was only fifteen years old and had been a huge sims fanatic ever since the first game came out. Not having that many friends in high school and living a pretty solitary life, I spent most of my time on the internet and playing video games. I used to play The Sims 2 all the time. This was shortly before The Sims 3 was first released (July 2009) and I remember being so excited for it! I low-key created some custom content with TS2 Bodyshop, but never really figured I would do anything more with it. 

Oh boy, was I wrong…

In late 2008, I discovered a very lovely website called The Sims Resource which had the most gorgeous custom content a teenager could wish for. I decided to go ahead and submit some of my own custom content, not thinking anything of it. I think it was a yellow Lady GaGa inspired dress, and everyone seemed to love it, which really motivated me to create more and improve over time. For anyone wondering; these 2008 creations are no longer available, I took them down only years later because of the, well, cringe worthy quality. It’s still a cute story, though. 

Half a year later, The Sims 3 was globally released and I had pre-ordered the game at my local mall. I remember forcing my mom to give me a ride to the mall to pick it up, and spending all night playing it. Not shortly after that, in the summer of 2009, I started to create custom content for the sims 3. This is also where I met my very dear friends @pralinesims who first started out in 2009, not knowing they would one day be the biggest and most succesful creators around. Over 100 million downloads under the belt, I don’t really know anyone else to have achieved that in their careers. I love you guys, and I’m pretty sure you know that. 

I loved creating for The Sims 3 and it really helped me cope with my daily struggles. The Sims Resource acknowledged my talent and promoted me to being a Featured Artist for both of the games, which was pretty incredible to see. Getting paid for doing something I loved the most wasn’t something I had expected, and I’ll always be grateful for that. Whenever I would feel depressed after a long day of school, the praise and the love from the community always made me feel better and it was honestly therapeutic for me to create and share with the community.  I know most of you are gone by know, but thank you for those who were with me between 2008 and 2010, I consider this to have been one of the darkest times in my life. Creating for the sims 3 brought a whole new audience to the community which was quite wonderful to see. The The Sims 3-era is probably my all time favorite era creating-wise and community-wise. I have so many great memories of this time period. 

I had always been a very shy individual growing up, but at a certain point it caused me to avoid all contact possible, and I felt terribly uncomfortable being around new people which made it very hard for me to express myself and to interact with strangers. The only time I would feel relaxed and care-free was when I was out having drinks. Unfortunately, I became depending on alcohol in order to feel socially capable of interacting with others, which caused me to get addicted to alcohol. I’m definitely not proud of this, but I feel the need to share this to let all of you into my life and to see why this is so important to me. 

In 2013, I struggled with some more personal issues, dropped out of college and quit creating, to return in a little over a year later to start creating for The Sims 4. My very dear friend @javasims really encouraged me to give the game a try and I did, which led me to be a Featured Artist for my third game in only a matter of weeks. Thank you Alex, for pushing me to step into a new era.

The Sims 4 era has definitely been a massive peak in my creating career. My creations have been very succesful and I had not expected to reach nearly 10 million downloads in such a short time period. Although I still had to get used to a lot of things that came with the game, the modern-day community has given me the love I haven’t felt in years. The Tumblr community added a whole new platform to this simmer community to share and care, and it’s been absolutely wonderful. Thank you guys for that.

I low-key announced my retirement from creating in my post from november 2015. I don’t enjoy creating for this game and I honestly have felt this way since I started creating for The Sims 4. I have matured a lot and I feel like being Cleotopia and creating has also been a shield for me to hide away from reality. It’s time to get my life back together and take grown up decisions. It’s time to take responsability and go out there and do what I am really ought to do, which is actually really exciting. I’m looking forward to going through major changes. I’ve gotten myself a new apartment in a new city and I’m ready to discover what’s next for me.I have been completely sober and have had a stready relationship for over a year now. 

Cleotopia is a chapter of my life I’ve been wanting to close for a very long time now, but I was never truly ready to do that just yet. This time around, I’m more than ready to close this chapter and to start writing another; I’m gonna be in my mid-twenties soon and I feel like I’ve wasted some of my precious time. When you’re my age, you’ll probably know what I’m talking about. People are graduating college, having kids, getting settled, and living the grown-up life. Terrifying, but I’m ready to move on and face all of that. I’ve got really good things going for me and I’m gonna have to take the time to be the woman I want to be right now. This means having to prioritize what I want to be right now, and being a creator for a game is no longer one of them. 

All the way from 2007 to now. It’s been an incredible journey that I will never forget. It might just be a game to most of you, but to me, it’s a community and a shelter where we can really lift each other up and support each other when it’s truly needed. That’s why I want to encourage all of you to say something nice to each other and support your fellow creators and simmers, instead of trying to compete with them :)

I’d like to thank;

  • My best friends and incredibly talented creators, @pralinesims, for loving me and supporting me ever since 2008. I feel like we’ve really grown up together, I want you guys to know that you mean so much to me. You’ve been my friend and my support when needed and that’s all I could ask for. I’m sure you’ll inspire many others along the way. Thank you.
  • Thank you @simsimay for teaching me everything you know about creating and growing as an artist. You are so incredibly talented and I know you’ll make it far in the real fashion bizz. We had such a great time back in the day and even though we lost touch somewhere along the way, I want you to know that I’ve always really looked up to you. 
  • I’d like to thank my peers @margeh75, @metens , @xpuresim, @trillyke , @martyp8 ,@birba32 and so many others for always supporting me for as long as I can remember. Hell, I don’t think you’ve ever skipped a creation of mine to leave a comment. Thank you for being wonderful human beings and on top of that very talented. You have always inspired me through your work to be a better creator.
  • All of the talented Tumblr community and all of those who have personally supported me and featured my work in their amazing lookbooks. Thank you @lily-pierce for encouraging me and being my friend on here and guiding me so much through all of our creative journeys. You have inspired most of my recent creations.
  • The TSR staff for giving me all the wonderful opportunities time after time and making me the creator I am today. You guys are phenomenal.

Last, but not least; I would like to thank all of my very dear fans who have been with me through all of this. Your support means so much to me and I can’t thank you enough for all your support, your comments, your precious messages and the kindness you share. I won’t forget any of this. Don’t be sad - I still have a couple of creations to be published over the next couple of days on my TSR profile.

Wow, I guess this is really it. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve tried to write down and find the words to really say what I’ve wanted to say, and to thank the people who have meant the world to me. This post has been in my drafts for weeks now and it’s finally done. All of it, it’s done! Such an odd feeling, but I am very excited to move forward.

I love you all, thank you for the memories! 


Cleo

So Atari distributed a game called Pridefest

Followers of my work will know that Atari and I …don’t get along. However, I had a vague memory of hearing them taking part in what was said to be an upcoming celebration of LGBTQIA+ rights and today I was reminded of it when the game released on the App Store.

Pridefest is a social sim game like every other social sim game but it’s themed around one major mechanic and idea. Pride Parades. The YouTube trailer’s description proclaims “Celebrate LGBTQ equality in Pridefest™, an interactive social-sim game that empowers YOU to spread joy and color through your city“.

But how true is that claim? Is this really a game promoting LGBTQIA+ equality? Well, as you have probably guessed by me writing this post. The answer is no.

I played the game for about an hour trying my best to give it a fair chance despite my admittedly cynical aproach. Something about Atari trying to promote anything positive just rubbed me the wrong way. But I will admit I was pleasantly surprised when I got to the profile creation screen and the game asked me to pick, not a gender, but a pronoun. Including a non-binary option.

That was really nice and exactly the kind of profile creation I want to see rather than labelling anything as male and female. Maybe there was some LGBTQIA+ promotion to come after all?

So after this the game is asking me, the player, to design my mayoral outfit. Fair enough I thought and clicked the little icon to do just that. This is when I was greeted with the character customization menu.

Having set my identification to “Her” meant that I was only allowed to pick what you would stereotypically call women’s clothing and my “physique” options only allowed for a very standard cis woman “beauty” look, with even the thickest possibly body being fairly slim by what should be considered an inclusive experience.

I wonder if I would have had access to physique and clothes of choice if I set myself as “Them” or not? Either way, I designed my character disappointed in the way it was presented and continued on. This is where Pridefest shows its true colours.

The story of Pridefest has you, the mayor, try to revive your dead and empty city by performing an endless string of Pride Parades. This means blowing money on giant floats, some with rainbow flags on them and …that’s about it.

In the “narrative” these parades are said to be about spreading fun and joy. And that’s it. There’s no mention of anything remotely relating to LGBTQIA+ topics, not even a simple shout of “Gay Pride!” somewhere. It has taken Pride and removed its core.

Haivng now stripped Pride down to being about “Fun” you march around collecting stars and spread your fun around town until buildings have high enough fun meters to be turned into colourful buildings and you continue this endless string of events.

After a few pages of the story, which is currently 40 missions long, I saw the only reference to anything remotely LGBTQIA+ in this game. What was it you may ask?

A page that said “Love Wins”. That’s it.

So, let’s talk about protesters. Because of course there are protesters in the game, they’re the enemies. Good, so maybe here we’ll get some commentary (no, we won’t) on LGBTQIA+ oppression.

Protesters carry aroudn signs saying “SHAME”, “DO AS WE COMMAND!” and “WE DON’T LIKE COLORS”. That’s all the context you get from them. Now, normally I’d be glad to see a game avoid pushing bigotry in my face, but this was the last chance for the game to show any kind of understanding of the LGBTQIA+ issues around the world.

So anyway, what do these protesters do? Well, they march around town as you have your parade and if you touch them they will hurt you and remove one of your floats. If you lose all of them (three at the start) you lose the mission.

There is no way to actually defeat these protesters, they will always damage you if they touch you. Yes, this is a game in which the city devoted to Pride Parades is still hurt if they interact with a protester, basically making the protesters stronger than the paraders.

Probably not the intention, but that’s the outcome that I felt when I realized I was powerless to stop them and had to run away. The game says that we need to show them the “meaning of Pride” but according to the game that’s just “fun and rainbows” in the first place.

Now, as if appropriation of LGBTQIA+ culture, restrictions on character appearances based on pronouns and overpowered bigots wasn’t bad enough for you all. The game is also poor from a gameplay perspective.

The visuals constantly glitch out with cars losing their alpha keying and become black moving squares. The protesters are slower than the parade but move randomly, which sometimes mean they can’t be avoided based on where the parade must start. It’s just one big mess.

And since it’s a Free-2-Play social game from Atari, much like Rollercoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile you can of course pay Atari some direct cash by the magic of in-app purchases of pink gems or crystals or whatever. You can pay up to $50 at a time for them if I remember correctly, which is more than I spent at the actual Pride Parade last summer here, so good job on that.

Now, I never got to see this in the game itself. But the loading screen has a super tiny flag with two male symbols on them. That’s the closest to a mention of gay things I’ve seen so far. Of course, said loading screen (which can be seen at the top of the screen) also has a massive “STRAIGHT ALLIES” thing in the bottom right. Good to see where there priorities lie.

And that’s the story of how Atari tried to get free positive PR from the LGBTQIA+ community by not even mentioning them in their game about Pride Parades.