Trans artist ALOK creates something creative and queer with The Sims

From the very beginning, The Simshas always been a great source of community and creativity for gay gamers, so when PRIDE heard about their “Spark Something” campaign, we knew it would be another opportunity for inclusion – and they didn’t let us down. .

In the “Spark Something” commercial The Sims“Plumbob” (you know, The Sims‘ shimmering diamond shape) passes from artist to artist, sparking that creativity and how to explore how it can encourage and inspire others to explore their creative side.

It is a message that corresponds perfectly to The Sims’ long-standing community that thrives on passion and creativity spark. As Julia Victor at the head of The Sims The brand explained in a statement, “‘Spark Something’ is our commitment to unlocking the creative potential we all have, and this film is our first love letter to the community we strive to serve. It is the first time we present our plumbob as a new light bulb – a symbol for when a new idea springs up.

Courtesy of Maxis

Driving this home is the talent that Maxis (the developer behind The Sims) featured on-camera bisexual Brazilian popster Anitta, Magnet an artist who uses the power of cake-making to bring others together, and ALOK a poet, author and activist who challenges the gender binary through his writing and comedy.

To better understand the PRIDE message, ahem, sets off a conversation with ALOK their experience of growing up with The Sims and how it sparked their creativity and allowed them to explore more sides of themselves – sides they had to hide for so many years. Now, ALOK hopes the “Spark Something” campaign can inspire others in the same way.

The Sims Spark Something Campaign

Courtesy of Maxis

ALOK, can you tell us about this collaboration with The Sims?

I grew up with such a deep love and respect for The Sims because I felt like I couldn’t control the world around me in the small town in Texas where I was. So I could kind of create the ideal world on this video game.

I strongly believe that reality is continually crafted, and it so informs and permeates my work today that things are not permanent. They are constantly renegotiated and redone insofar as we hold the tools, these construction tools. And with hindsight, I think that even before having this vocabulary, this awareness, playing sims helped me realize that we get to shape our own lives. And that can be a beautiful thing, self-creation.

So when this opportunity presented itself, I was geeked out. My inner child was like, “this is awesome.” I think what really spoke to me about this campaign was the concept of passing on the spark or the idea that we all have the ability to inspire change and each other.

The Sims Spark Something Campaign

Courtesy of Maxis

It is really nice. So how did you get involved in the creation of “Spark Something”?

I think some people who work at sims knew my work as an artist and thought I was in tune with the concept. And then what was really cool is that I always try to take collaborations where I can focus my art and my creativity. So from the start, they asked me what I thought. And I felt like I had a role to play in sculpting my role in advertising.

It was really important for me to be able to demonstrate my poetry. So in a scene where I’m in this fabulous wig and dress – which were custom made for me, by the way, and I still have them – and I can wear them, which is cool. My poems are actually written in the background. So it was a whole room of my poems painted on the walls, which is really awesome.

I told them I felt like there was a trope with trans representation where the before and after had to be male to female, and I didn’t want to replicate that trope. And so they took my creative consultation for the first look, where I’m wearing non-binary earrings and I love that really fun look. And we raise it.

[What] What I really liked was that they did their due diligence to make sure I felt happy with how I was portrayed. And it’s really rare and valuable, I think. Especially when you think about trans representation.

The Sims Spark Something Campaign

Courtesy of Maxis

Why do you think queer and transgender people are drawn to The Sims?

I think it’s multifaceted. First, it’s like we don’t really get security. I really feel a lot of sadness, because the majority of trans and gender non-conforming people like me can’t really physically express themselves without fear of real, very real danger. So I think video games have always been a place where we can actually live our authentic lives in a world that’s not ready for us yet.

It’s really cool when sims has features such as allowing people to use their preferred pronouns or choose their sexual orientations because it can actually go a long way and allow people to progress on their journey of self-acceptance and find people who accept them for them.

I think it’s so weird. Like, we find ourselves in so many situations that we don’t have a language for, and I really want to point in my mouth and say “a berbness” because it’s so absurd. I think sims gives us a visual vocabulary that we resonate with in terms of the lives we need to be in.

The third thing is the idea of ​​being able to safely build space around you. In a world where we see more and more LGBTQ spaces, stop the growing criminalization of our communities who are forced into hiding and living confined lives. I think it’s important to be able to enjoy designing your own home. I mean, yeah, that involves me getting all the cheat codes and I like having a zillion dollar budget…

Rosebud [a cheat in The Sims that would give the player unlimited money] will live forever in my brain!

Rosebud, yes! I would just have millions of dollars for, like craftsmanship, these magnificent palatial mansions, and I think that’s so clear. therapeutic when you’re restricted and made to be small, how much sun you can be.

The Sims Spark Something Campaign

Courtesy of Maxis

So how long have you been on the side of the creative community of The Sims?

I started playing The Sims when I was maybe 12 or 13. It was like the days of the Dell desktop family computer that crashed everyone when you got too many rosebuds. And I played there for years. And then I kind of stopped playing video games and computer games for a while because I think they had become sites of toxic masculinity.

As I entered into my transition, I felt like sad saddened by it because gambling was such an integral part of my adolescence. Now I feel like as an adult I’m really going back. For example, I have a friend coming over tonight and we’re playing my Nintendo Switch.

I think it’s really beautiful to be allowed to see such explicit homosexuality. It makes it safer for people like me, who often have apprehensions around play spaces due to a lot of misogyny.

So apart from The Simsare there other games that resonate with you?

Nintendo consoles also struck me as very odd, like Yoshi and Birdo. Are you kidding me?

Super Mario Bros. 2

Courtesy of Maxis

Oh, Birdo, I’ve written about Nintendo’s weird handling of Birdo in the past.

People have always asked me in interviews which trans people inspired me for the story, and I’m like Birdo. The representation of Birdo was really fundamental for me. Also Princess Daisy.

Just this idea that you can be feminine and kick ass like Kirby is really important to me. And as someone who is regularly told that I look like a cartoon or that I’m silly or whatever, there’s a kind of strength in being able to watch cartoons that can be badass. So I think like games like Super Smash Brothers have always been great fun for me.

The Sims Spark Something Campaign

Courtesy of Maxis

What do you hope people take away not only from your performance in “Spark Something” – which is fantastic by the way – but from the commercial as a whole?

Thanks! I really want people to stop using the word “impossible”. Because “impossible” is a foot soldier of the status quo.

What I learned is that people do impossible things every day because they exceed our imagination of what is possible. And the only way to grow not just as artists but as human beings is by meeting people who are doing something so wonderful. It magnetizes us and makes us expand our horizons of what we thought possible.

In the pub, the Plumbob travels [from person to person] is such a distillation of what I try to do as an artist when I perform. I hope I can inspire other people to live their best life, inspire other people to live their best life.

We know that saying, well, who hurts people hurts people. But I also think that creative people inspire creative people, because transference ownership doesn’t just have to be negative. It can also be wonderful.

“Spark Something” is available on Youtube, and for more, be sure to check out the website.

How old is Alok Vaid Menon?

Alok Vaid-Menon (born July 1, 1991).

Where did Alok grow up?

College Station, Texas.

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