Content Creators are Re-Creating Homelessness in The Sims

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for content creators Like Zach Letter, YouTube can be a rags-to-riches story of sorts. The letter, which has been creating content since 2011 and has a total of over 2 million followers across all platforms, tells Wired that he was almost homeless around 2011. At the time, Letter was pulling double duty while working full time as a Millwright apprentice as well as creating YouTube content on the sidelines full time. All of a sudden, he says, he fired everyone at the company he worked for—right after he took a loan to buy vehicles and equipment for his job. This left them with large payouts on equipment they couldn’t use, which quickly drained their savings.

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Despite his best efforts to find a job, he was broke in three months. “I was scared. Every night I went to bed after working all day on YouTube, just praying that something would follow my way,” Latter says. Then, his YouTube channel started gaining popularity and earning a modest income. It came on time, according to the letter, as he estimates he was about five days away from being homeless, with only $38 to his name. The advertising revenue that his YouTube channel generated—which amounted to $800 per month—helped him avoid bankruptcy. “Things continued to improve” point to Letter, who considers himself lucky.

In December 2017, the letter ran away Created by a player. In sims 4 The challenge on YouTube, which goes by the nickname of the “homeless” or “rag-to-rich” challenge, sees players dress up their Sims characters so that they appear homeless and then set out to gain 5,000 Simoleons – Enough in-game currency to build a modest multiroom house—with no shelter or jobs, according to Challenge’s community page.

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The letter says challenges like these are fun “because it relates to a life that many people have experienced, myself included. So trying to see how far you can make it in your lifetime gives you hope for your life.”

at war with algorithms

The Homeless Challenge is one of many challenges created by players. From being a female sim in other birth 100 children to 100 by different partners rebuild development and playing as a princess. Challenges remain a popular mainstay sims youtube community. Unless new content is added or community-developed mods are released, games can become repetitive and boring for those who play frequently, such as content creators. So-called gameplay challenges let players and creators accomplish this.

Tom, better known for its millions of customers and followers”TheSpiffingBritish”, explains that challenges allow creators to have a strong and unique video concept to captivate potential viewers. Tom cited YouTube as a contributing factor in challenging the culture, as its algorithms incentivize creators who are eager for engagement and growth for video views and challenges an endless arms race to attract attention. I encourage you to try. watches youtube more than 500 hours The number of content uploaded per minute—and viewers watch more than a billion hours per day. Challenges of a controversial nature are more impactful “because viewers are startled and left curious,” resulting in higher click rates, because potential viewers want to know more, Tom says. Click rates and viewer retention are especially important for creators, as they promote content monetization.

(YouTube did not respond to requests for comment or information about how many “rags-to-rich” videos have been uploaded and how many people have seen them by publication time.)

gaming and homelessness

Video games, by their very nature, cannot fully and accurately simulate the realities of homelessness, such as threats of violence from others who degrade homeless people, harassment by law enforcement, unhelpful shelter systems, And hostile architecture.

up 567,000 people are homeless in the US, according to a January 2020 report from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. The report predates the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to an increase in homelessness. in 2020, one discovery Columbia University economics professor Brendan O’Flaherty estimated that the coronavirus could increase the number of homeless in the US by up to 45 percent. Under normal circumstances, there are not enough shelter beds to accommodate the number of homeless, let alone new flows, especially given pandemic safety protocols. who are often homeless lack of access for medical care, increasing the likelihood of significant health problems and preventable deaths.

sims 4 The ability for Sims to contract diseases is not included unless players purchase various expansion packs. With expansion, Sims can catch a variety of illnesses based on actual illnesses, such as hypothermia, the common cold, or “rabid rodent fever”—rabies. They can also contract outliers like “dry heads,” causing headaches and literal steam coming out of Sims’ ears. These ailments differ only from cosmetic effects that affect the Sim’s mood until it becomes fatal.

Some players who participate in the Homeless Challenge repeat the season through the inclusion of the game. “weather” extension, in which Sims can die if they wear clothes inappropriate for the weather conditions. Its use is not consistent, but may add another element to the game of challenge. Weather is a major factor in real-world homelessness; Hypothermia kills hundreds Number of homeless people annually in the United States alone. Most homeless deaths in the US between 2010 and 2016 occurred in “cold stress conditions” of varying intensity, according to published a study in a peer-reviewed scientific journal one more. The same study found that deaths from hypothermia occurred 13 times more often than in the general population.

sims “Imagination, not reality,” says the letter. He believes that challenges are fun because they “are related in some way to all audiences” but do not necessarily reflect reality or accurately represent the issues faced.

YouTube creator BringdParty, better known by his fans as Josh—real name: Josh Caron—participated in a homeless challenge in June 2020. In VideoWhen creating his Sims character, Karen states that he wanted the Sims character to be “homeless like a cat.” To help facilitate this, he gave them single quality, which means his Sims character is the happiest alone. Karen says he hasn’t been homeless himself and that the challenge series on his channel is an “opportunity to escape from reality.” He says the challenge is purely entertainment and “in no case should it be considered educational.” Karen cites unrealistically fast construction sims As an example of how the game lacks realism. compared to sims To Minecraft, he says, challenges allow players to make fun of themselves in open-ended games. She found sims Fun challenges as they cause players to think outside the box of their traditional playing style.

As the letter and Karen said, sims The game is not designed to simulate homelessness in the real world or the trauma associated with being homeless or having or experiencing any potential mental illness. Processing past trauma without access to mental health care or housing and experiencing the constant shame of being homeless is not the same as playing as a shame-free embodiment with a void past.

The homelessness challenge and the materials produced around it are “disappointing,” says Nan Roman, president and CEO of the US-based nonprofit Coalition to End Homelessness. He agrees with Letter and Karen that the challenge is not an accurate representation of homelessness, stating that “homelessness is not a sport”—rather, it is an epidemic. In sims, waste management and facilities are not things that players need to pay attention to. When building a house, players don’t need to worry about accounting for the space or logistics that will require plumbing or electricity.

sims That’s a big exaggeration,” YouTube creator Matt Shea, who also participated in the challenge, tells Nerdshala. As an example of this, he cites the fact that players can make simoleons in large quantities by doing simple things, such as picking up and selling rocks. In line with this exaggerated nature, sims Does not take into account the stigma surrounding homelessness, or other factors such as difficulty finding shelter, employment, or health care. Instead of homelessness being a dire condition, players have shame-free and trauma-free digital avatars with no past, and generally start from nothing and all the necessities inside a neat package of one video. able to earn enough to buy In the case of letters, a 53 minute Video Zero Simoleons showed an ascent to earn and spend – thousands, mostly thanks to fishing. His Sim had a bed, trash can, lamp, toilet, wooden table and a bathtub on an empty space—the game doesn’t even care if the Sims bathe in public. (In sims, Plumbing is effectively magic; The game doesn’t care about where the items are placed or the logistics of real-world plumbing.)

The reality is complex, and it is difficult for games to touch upon social issues with any degree of accuracy. As a result, game developers typically choose what level of realism they feel comfortable with in their fictional universe – and balance that against. Content creators and players may feel constrained by this and try to push the limits and expand the limits set on games by their developers.

“Digital content is more prevalent now than …

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