When I left Channel 4 Education in December, there were 5 projects which I had commissioned and were due to launch, and/or took the reins over from Alice Taylor after she originally green lit them. One of those was The Supermes, an emergent drama using The Sims 3 engine about a group of mates trying to get on with each other and what life throws at them in a houseshare.
It was designed to be part of Superme, the resilience system of content for teens to help them understand that it’s ok just to be ok.
The Supermes was part labour of love for Robin Burkinshaw, the genius crafter behind Alice and Kev, and part Massive Headache. In the best possible way.
The reason why it was a headache was simple: apart from stuff I can’t really talk about, there was the very fact that the characters were uncontrollable in a sense. These were not actors you could direct. Nor was this machinima. This was something entirely different and tricky because they were essentially robots. To cut what they did while Robin played them was no easy task, and the crafting of the story was a massive challenge, but it has worked.
Even the voice over was hard to get right. We originally wanted a Carl Pilkington-esque tone, but quickly realised it would not work. We did however want to make sure the narration nodded to some of the odd things our characters would do, because they were Sims. We wanted the narrator to balance those humorous observations with the more serious messages coming through, dealing with loss for example.
I am really proud of it, and some of the episodes made me cry.*
There were a lot of people who came and went over the course of this project, and they did a stunning job imho.
*Although still disappointed there was no cat in any of the episodes. The Sims 3 doesn’t have pets.