In my INTE5320 – Games and Learning course, each student is required to select an affinity space for the game they are playing this semester. The game I chose to play this semester is The Sims 4. There are a few options for affinity spaces for The Sims game franchise online, but the one that has been online from the very first The Sims game is The Sims Resource. I was a member of this site a long time ago, around 2000-2002, but I was merely a lurker at that time and downloaded a few skins from other users. I don’t recall much about the site at all. The Sims Resource is a well-respected affinity space, and has been the subject of academic articles in the past (see Gee & Hayes, 2012). For my affinity space project, I chose to immerse myself in The Sims Resource. I am curious about how much the site has changed, how users interact with one another, and to see if I agree with Gee & Hayes observation of it being a “nurturing affinity space”.

The Sims Resource features plenty of options for users to become involved in this space. Users can participate as either producers or consumers, or both. There are thousands of downloadable items that game players have created themselves to share with others. These downloadable items are not just for the latest Sims game – the database spans back to the very first Sims game. These items include skins for avatar appearances (accessories, clothing, makeup, etc.), items for home building (walls, floors, lights, etc.), terrain, and much more. If a user is curious about producing content themselves, the forums feature plenty of knowledge provided by producers of content that they seem to be willing to share with others. TSR also features wiki’s for each Sims game, workshops for creating downloadable items, artist spotlights, help information, and much more.

Registering for The Sims Resource was extremely fast and efficient. Within minutes I had signed up, confirmed my registration via email, and was ready to participate.

The front page shows the various features of the site in an attractive manner.

I immediately went to the forums. As I have mentioned in a previous blog entry, when I first started playing The Sims 4 weeks ago, I had a bit of difficulty with my game crashing after I got into the “home building” part of the game. I noticed on the forums right away that many, many posts were about the game crashing. In fact, the administrators had pinned posts to the very top about how to get around some of these issues.

Something I have noticed right away is that the forums are not as active as I believed they would be. I remember lurking on TSR around 2000-2002 and the forums were overwhelming to read. Thousands of message threads and what seemed to be thousands of members. What I am seeing on the forum for the latest Sims game is not as many users as I thought there would be, and in fact, days and sometimes weeks will go by without a new thread started in the General Discussion for The Sims 4 forum. This surprised me greatly.

Over the next week, I am going to post a few questions in the TSR forums. I have many questions that are rumbling around in my brain. I will provide an update soon about my findings.