The SuperMes: Arch Social Criticism?

I'm pretty sure this is the end of television.

I’m not sure whether Channel 4’s The SuperMes is an extremely extensive advert for The Sims 3, or an arch criticism of the nature of reality television. Either way, it’s a man commentating over edited footage of the game, in an attempt to create a Big Brother-style narrative. You can see the first episode, spotted by Gamasutra, below.

The web series features four Sims characters put into a house (Robert apparently played by me), and then leaving it to play out as it plays out. The edited results make up the content of the episode, this first part focusing on the arrival of Clare to the house, and her difficulty fitting in.

And the result is, I think, a very dull affair, but no more dull than the shows that inspire it. Clearly EA can’t be displeased at the exposure for their game, nor the implicit message that Sims 3 is so organic that its un-interfered-with happenings are worthy of such treatment. And to an extent, the somewhat anthropomorphised results achieve as much as any recent series of Big Brother, or its thousands of mutant offspring.

Which, to me, suggests it’s not just a cutting satire of the banality of such television, but an especially cruel observation of the dehumanising nature of such endeavours. If the same effect can be achieved by the simplistic AI of a bunch of interacting Sims characters, then what does that say of the minds and the interaction of whoever is still desperate enough to put themselves through Big Brother’s humiliation mill? Are these people really as inherently stupid as EA’s diamond-hatted creations, or does the process of being trapped in a house, Saw-without-the-deaths-style, reduce people to being barely sentient automatons?

See for yourself, here:

This is, as it happens, part of a promotion for a Channel 4 game, confusingly called SuperMe, which you can play here. It seems to be a blur of life and Facebook games, aimed at teenagers, that gives you points for watching videos and playing games.


  1. MadTinkerer says:

    If they add a new expansion every episode or every couple of episodes, like maybe suddenly everyone is in The Sims Medieval for an episode, then this idea could have potential.

  2. nobody says:

    Here’s the documentary version (albeit in written/picture form). Maybe the BBC will step in and produce that one.

    • Nevard says:

      I prefer this one myself.

    • Paul B says:

      Noticed that Robin Burkinshaw was named as the Consultant Game Player on the SuperMes video. I wonder if that’s the same one behind Alice & Kev (there can’t be too many Burkinshaws around).

      Makes me wonder what format an Alice & Kev video would take – a gritty social drama on Channel 4?

  3. talon03 says:


  4. Ross Angus says:

    What’s a good example of ‘Puter games on TV? (this is a genuine question). Videogaiden, obviously. I’ve been thinking about this, and they all seem to follow completely different formats.

    • AmateurScience says:

      Oooh ooh that thing where they recreated historical battles with the proto-Rome: Total War engine and got people to try and emulate the results/change history.

      I forget the name.

      That was good.

    • Ross Angus says:

      Good example. It doesn’t follow the computer games as sport format, or the Bits style review. Total War was just used as a tool.

    • JB says:

      Was it Time Commanders or similar?

    • terry says:

      Knightmare? *creaks back into crypt*

  5. Ross Angus says:

    Ah, you never forget your first reply fail. Move along. Nothing to see here.

  6. The Sombrero Kid says:

    The programs this is based on are a product of the slumping revenue in the industry due, in part, to competition from games so it’s only fitting games would literally cannibalise the medium while they cannibalise it’s revenue.

  7. Cooper says:

    “Which, to me, suggests it’s not just a cutting satire of the banality of such television, but an especially cruel observation of the dehumanising nature of such endeavours.”

    Is the best observation on this.

    Those ‘reality’ shows work because they so fully define a very specific limits in which the participants can act. They reduce the agency of the participants to as little as possible, with tightly defined rules, spaces, events and so on. Doing this allows easy editing into something that’s easy to present and a simple story to narrate. Allow more agency to the participants and it would be impossible to narrate.

    It’s no wonder that these shows share so muchy in common in style with Sims AI. It’s because these shows work by denying as much agency as possible.

  8. Quine says:

    One of the only reality-type shows I can cope with is the one with that nice Mr Gareth Chorister turning up and inspiring people to do some co-op.

    In that spirit I demand some elite d00d drop into some estate and go round inspiring the locals to form their own Eve corp. for fun and profit, with the filmic results doled out over a few weeks TV, from tentatively grinding asteroids through to full corporate in-fighting, and faction backstabs.

  9. dontnormally says:

    I enjoyed the Sims when I have played in the past. It’s an interesting experiment.

    What I cannot, will not, and everyone should not put up with is the multi-SKU, Expansion-riddled mess of products surrounding each release. I would play Sims 3 if it weren’t $100+.

  10. Koozer says:

    I hope the second series is based on Dwarf Fortress.

    • Nice Save says:

      Every time someone mentions DF on here, it makes me want to go play it. So I will.

  11. akcent12 says:

    Chesney described a self-released Cheap Kenny Chesney Tickets demonstration project at Vintage Saving Functions in Bristol Va.