Hi. My name is Rhonda. I’m forty-one years old, and I make Sims 2 machinima.
There. I said it. In public. And you know what? The sky didn’t fall. My family didn’t disown me and my dog is still sitting in my lap. My IQ level didn’t drop and by golly, I’m still an adult.
Why did I say all that? Because over the past few months, I’ve run into several people just like me, who appreciate the potential of machinima and enjoy creating it, yet keep their guilty pleasure a secret because they’re “too old” by conventional gaming standards. These people include teachers, managers, meat cutters, DJs, graphic and interior designers, men, women, and folks with all sorts of temperaments and backgrounds. Like me, they’ve hidden their interests from real-life friends and their ages from the machinima community. We’re oddballs in both worlds, yet the lure of creative storytelling is much stronger than our embarrassment.
In my everyday world, the subject of machinima rarely comes up. But when it does, I feel like I’m being “outed” every time I admit being involved with it. The facial expressions people suddenly develop are priceless. Most are polite, in a “let’s don’t upset the crazy person” kind of way. Some are outright detractors and one or two have actually snickered out loud.
I understand the skepticism. Really, I do. Machinima does seem like a childish and pointless time waster—at first glance. I won’t defend its merits in this post or explain all the reasons I love it. But I will throw the scoffers a bone: machinima is not for everyone.
Neither is sushi.
The primary audience for machinima is young females between the ages of twelve and twenty. Therefore it stands to reason that any adult who dabbles in this hobby must have serious age regression issues. Right?
Let’s revisit the first sentence of the above paragraph: “The primary audience […] is young females between the ages of twelve and twenty.” Okay—who did I just describe? None other than the very people who made “Twilight” a worldwide phenomenon and Stephanie Meyer a household name.
Yet no one accuses Stephanie Meyer of having regression issues. She’s an author—a storyteller—and everyone knows that reaching today’s generation of kids is a noble and commendable achievement, even if we have to use vampires and werewolves to do it.
If I sound condescending toward Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series, I certainly don’t intend it that way. My point is that authors of children’s books and young adult (YA) literature never come under fire for being childish themselves no matter what characters or tactics they use. So why is machinima such a point of ridicule by so many? Isn’t it just an alternate form of storytelling, one that the audience can actually participate in themselves? What’s so “childish” about creating entertainment that children can enjoy? Not to mention the fact that well-done machinimas appeal to all ages, not just kids.
I have a feeling that machinima-esque productions will become more and more prevalent in the entertainment and advertising fields. How many young machinima directors of today will be tomorrow’s Steven Spielbergs? And how many will go on, using the storytelling skills they learned by making countless crappy machinimas, to write enduring literary classics and produce C-gen or even live action movies our grandkids will treasure?
So if I have serious regression issues, or if I’m childish for enjoying machinima, then so be it. I’m sure Lewis Carroll (Alice In Wonderland,) Roald Dahl (Willy Wonka), Lyman Frank Baum (Wizard Of Oz), JK Rowling, and of course Stephanie Meyer had to endure some good (and not so good)-natured ribbing, too.