Challenges, DIY

SIMemory: A "Build" Your Life Story

For my final challenge, I decided to put a twist on a "draw your life story" video by building my life - in Sims4.

The How

In middle school, I used to love creating houses on Sims. (If you've never played or heard of Sims, it's a video game in which you create avatars that live out lives you design and control for them. #godcomplex)

Having not played Sims since then, getting back into the swing of cheat codes and virtual construction was a bit of a challenge for me - but the "hard fun" kind of challenge. Eventually (through trial and error) I got the hang of it, and before long I was engrossed in the process like it was 2001 all over again. I built a house that represents my life. Each room is a different place of significance, beginning with the earliest place I can remember and ending in my current home.

Here's me... taking a screenshot... of a me I created... creating something. Mind blown, right?

Something I had never done - in Sims or otherwise - was recording myself playing through a video game. Luckily, Sims has a built in interface for creating and recording scenes. It took a while to figure it out, but 50 tiny scene recordings later, I had a short film that literally followed my own footsteps through my life's journey. I edited clips, recorded audio, and added text using Movavi Video Editor (more about that below in Resources.)

The House

The Gram

Finally, I decided to incorporate a final platform into the telling of my life story - my Instagram.

Explore yourself at my Instagram page, @eastoneducates!

Using the app Giant Square, I created a grid to announce my project. The first three photos explain #INTE5340 and the process for my final challenge. The remaining nine photos in the grid each correspond to a room in the "house of my life." As you swipe, you'll see actual photographs from those places. Here's an example from the second room in my house, Pueblo West:

In the video, I talk about how my dad would fish on the lake and I would... read on the lake. Proof!

Each post is also geo-tagged, so you can explore the story geographically.


Reflection

Nostalgia is a seductive liar. - George Ball

Revisiting the places of significance in my life and building them from memory is likely not the most accurate of autobiographies. I built the house first and checked the photographs later, and I'm glad I did. I created each place from the feeling its memories raised for me; the details I remembered most. Especially for the older places that I will never get to see again (the house in the county, the community theater), what I built didn't quite match up with the photographs. When I found my first house on Google Earth, for example, I saw it for the first time through adult eyes - it is tiny, and run down. When I built it, however, I remembered it as so large, so...  different. Things seem so much bigger and polished when you're small, don't they? But to be honest, the main things - the important things - weren't different. The curve at the end of the road where I rode my bike. The fence that kept my goat from running off. The tree in the right corner of the lot, the first thing I built in my Sim story.

Overall, this project was an unexpected experiment of gratitude. I can think of joy and pain that I felt at each place. I fed my goat and petted her every day in her pen; it's the same place I saw her die, my first experience of the circle of life. My dad taught me how to chop wood at the prairie house, the same house where we fought over my messy room. When the curtains came up at the theater, I escaped depression that came back when the curtains came down. Trail West, college, Oklahoma, here. I've had sadness and elation in each place, and building it, I felt the range again. As I mentioned in the closing of my video, I was reminded of Walt Whitman's Song of Myself:

Do I contradict myself?
Very well, then, I contradict myself.
I am large -
I contain multitudes.

Build the places of your life sometime - in your mind, in a video game, on a piece of paper, in a journal. Let your students do the same. We should all explore the multitudes in the houses of ourselves.


Resources

Medias

  • Audio
  • Video
  • Game coding/playing
  • Social Media

Apps and Software

  • Movavi Video Editing Software - Sims records in .avi files, which are not native to Mac, thereby cancelling out my comfort zone of iMovie. Initially, I intended to just use the Movavi free trial for this specific project, but I found that I enjoyed it even more than iMovie! Since I make videos pretty regularly for my classroom, I decided to pay for the basic software.
  • Sims4 - I recorded all video using Sims Movie Maker, embedded in the game. This article was extremely helpful during my project and gives an insight into some of the real time editing (perspective shifting, shortcuts, etc) I did for the project.
  • Giant Square - This app was so easy to use in creating the large grid for my Instagram. You can make the grids multiple sizes - the app divides your chosen picture for you and downloads it to your camera roll in the order you need to upload them.
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About Carlee Easton

Educator of 7 years. Passionate about culturally responsive education, mental health for helping professions, and making room for makerspaces. I love coffee, creating, and alliteration.
  • Denver, CO