*TW: DISCUSSION OF BODY IMAGE*
The project we decided to create is a visual podcast based on the life simulation game: The Sims 4. The SIMpS Pod is a podcast we created via youtube to be able to give a visual and entertainment element to the information we discuss. The niche we decide to follow comes from the health and fitness community, as well as gaming. These two niches together worked together to allow us to discuss the issue of the negative connotations that life simulation games may create with their users. By investigating our niche we are able to find relevant information about the issue and are able to reflect as a user (audience) of the game and be able to have a first-hand analysis of being a part of this niche. The health and fitness niche we discuss is one both me and my digital artefact partner Casie is already a part of. This meant that there was not a significant amount of investigating into this niche as such but closely looking into the gaming niche, directed at the Sims.
Other than YouTube we utilised Twitter (@TheSIMpSPod) and TikTok (@TheSIMpSPod) to further our reach to our audience and be able to correctly target the users in the niche. The Sims is an immensely popular game that was first created in the year 2000. Since releasing 3 new editions and a giant range of expansion packs for each one. For our content media, we focussed on the newest edition: The Sims 4.
Firstly the fitness niche is a large spectrum and includes a range of different niches within the main one. The fitness sector is a part of the Sport, Fitness and Recreation industry. According to an article by IBIS world “ The market size, measured by revenue, of the Gyms and Fitness Centres industry, is $2.3bn in 2021.” (IBIS World 2021) this is a base for only a small sector of this industry. When discussing the fitness industry as a niche we can look at it as a global scale. This can include weight loss, weight training, bodybuilders, wellness, yoga etc. which means that the niche we reached was narrowed down from this large spectrum under the fitness bracket, to just one in particular. TW: Body Image: Body image is an issue, and discussed topic globally, and in many ways fit right into the health and fitness industry but not necessarily in a positive way. In the discussion of the size of this sector, body “With a market size of $702.1 billion the “Healthy eating, nutrition and weight loss” is the second-largest contributor to the global wellness economy.” (Goyal 2020) Body image would fall under this category.
In terms of being able to properly scope this niche, we utilised our platform to be able to draw examples and reasoning in discussion to how the gaming industry, in addition to the health and fitness industry can create these negative connotations to their users, myself included. The Sims 4 has a range of possibilities and abilities when it comes to creating a sim. The Create A Sim screen (CAS) is the first step when first using the game. This is where you create your “player”. In the Sims 4 CAS, you are able to adjust a range of features of the ‘sim’, from their fat concentration to muscle definition and even able to manually adjust and change individual body parts (calves, thighs, arms, shoulder-width etc.) as you can already guess this created the first flag of an image with body image for users. In our second episode (although with the unfortunate technical difficulties) my podcast co-host and I created our own sims, attempting to make them look like ourselves. You immediately feel drawn to almost creating how you wish you looked rather than how you actually look.
I utilised Twitter to look into the similar participants of this niche and was able to find a large number of tweets that related to this topic and niche. As you can see in the figure above, people are having negative connotations in regards to body image while playing this game. Creating an unrealistic version of yourself can be really damaging to a user. A report on “The Impact of Body Emphasizing Video Games on Body Image Concerns in Men and Women” took primary data from participants to help them look into this theory. The report states “participants completed body image measures, play a video game that displayed muscular or thin characters for 15 min, and then complete post-game body image measures. Results showed that participants in both studies had significantly lower body esteem after video gameplay.” (Barlett & Harris 2008) as we played the game, we were able to recognise these issues.
Barlett, C & Harris, R 2008, ‘The Impact of Body Emphasizing Video Games on Body Image Concerns in Men and Women’, viewed 2021, <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/226438211_The_Impact_of_Body_Emphasizing_Video_Games_on_Body_Image_Concerns_in_Men_and_Women>.
Goyal, P 2020, Health, Wellness & Fitness Niche Report 2020 – The Niche Blogger, The Niche Blogger, viewed 29 October 2021, <https://thenicheblogger.com/health-wellness-fitness-niche-report/>.
IBIS World 2021, IBISWorld – Industry Market Research, Reports, and Statistics, http://www.ibisworld.com.