Meet SpringSims: The Sims legacy player + builder sparking change from the inside
Stephen, more affectionately known as SpringSims, is one of the leading legacy players and builders within The Sims community, creating stunning architecture and compelling stories across The Sims 2, The Sims 3, and The Sims 4. He hails from Illinois, residing in a suburban neighborhood that mirrors that of his Sims creations. A member of EA’s Game Changers program and one of the original contestants on The Sims Spark’d competition reality show, SpringSims is a source of inspiration and joy for players around the world. From his signature yellow gaming studio to the sunflowers that decorate his social media and game descriptions, this warmth and excitement carry over into his gameplay, characters, and builds - generating a community of avid Sims players that tune in to his live streams and download his content.
With a growing community of over 16K followers as a Twitch partner and nearly 30K subscribers on YouTube, we sat down with SpringSims via Zoom to discuss everything from Spark’d to why The Sims 2 is the best game out of the Sims franchise to ever exist.
Our conversation, edited lightly for clarity, follows.
How did you get involved with The Sims Spark’d?
I got involved with Spark’d because the team behind the show actually contacted me, asking if I wanted to be part of the show, and I was like “sure!” because it’s about The Sims, it’s competition and I wanted to see what I could come up with. So, they laid out all the details that I needed to know before hopping into the show when it started late last year.
What did you think of The Sims in eSports format?
At first, I was like “Really? Sims? eSports? Television? I don’t really know about that.” It seemed a little bit weird, because I’m always at home playing The Sims by myself, and I feel like the comfort of my own home seems simple. Then they tell me, “We’re going to be at the headquarters filming the show and doing everything in teams.” And I’m like, “Teams? Sims? eSports?” I can roll with it. I can adapt to change, so I was fine with it, but I was like, confused because I’ve never done that before.
The element of teams definitely added a different dynamic. How did you feel the team dynamics were different than solo play?
It was a bit difficult because we’re both used to playing by ourselves. I think being on teams helped us to collaborate together, in person, to execute our creativity a little better in our challenges. We’re all individuals, so we all have different ideas and sometimes it can come across a little hard when you want to say, “I want to do this” or “I want to do that” and the other person has some other ideas. So we had to come together and compromise a little bit and see what works best for the challenge we’re doing. I just wish we could have got to the next episode to further our story. I think all of this, as individuals, we all love storytelling, so I think that if we continued on, we would have expanded on the story, incorporating with the next challenge they did for episode 2.
What was it like behind-the-scenes?
It was life-changing. I’ve been to the headquarters before, but I’ve never seen that part of the headquarters. It was different. It was exciting. I felt like a little kid going to a candy store again I was over the moon with everything. How the set looks… it looks like an actual home studio, where you can just sit there and chill, from the couches to the computer stations we were at for the episodes, those were really cool. I would just love to live there. If they just let me in, I would never leave (laughs).
Is there a challenge you saw in later episodes that you saw that you wanted to participate in if you had gone further in the competition?
I think it was the last episode where they got to pick the Packs they wanted, and that was my ultimate favorite one. Or the one where they had to stylize in different categories. I remember the one that xMiraMira did. You could do anything with those Packs you could choose from like Seasons or Cats & Dogs or Realm of Magic. I think if we got to do that portion of the episode with our current story we had with Natasha and her music career and everything, it could have expanded into something more and probably could have had us win the competition, like all the way through.
Overall, how did you feel about the diversity and representation in the show?
Honestly, in a way, I felt like...I don’t know, I’ve always felt like this for so many years when I first got contacted by The Sims. I had a deep feeling in my soul, in my heart, I know there are other Black male Simmers out there, but I feel like the pressure is always on me. I feel like I’m the only one who’s really been reached out to, and the only one going to these things by EA, and being on these shows. I feel some kind of pressure. It feels overwhelming sometimes.
But I feel like the diversity of the show, we had all different ages, and different backgrounds, and different countries, and all sorts of creatives around the world. Even though the first season was all about the Game Changers, it was pretty cool. But I feel like they should expand it to where there is more diversity and more Black Simmers, both within the Game Changers program and outside the program. Because that shows the community and how we’re all diverse in different ways, whether it’s building or making Sims or telling stories, and we can all show how we play the sims, rather than showing a certain amount of players.
You spoke about using different Packs. What are your favorite Packs for The Sims 4?
My favorite Pack is Seasons. Seasons is my favorite Expansion Pack ever to exist. It’s all four seasons, you can’t unsee it. You can’t pretend you do not see. No, it’s out there. I really love Seasons. I also love the Parenthood Game Pack, because I’m a family game player so anything that revolves around family I will love automatically. And it’s still new, but Snowy Escape, I really do like it so far for the building aspect and some of the gameplay so far. I haven’t done a deep dive in it yet but the lifestyles and the sentiments that it brought to The Sims 4, made my family gameplay expand a lot more than it did before.
I just think it just brings more cool dynamics to the game, especially with the families that I create in The Sims. Then involving, like, Cats & Dogs and City Living because I want to have a city, urban side to my game, then have my Sims have a cat or dog, is really cool. So those are my favorite Packs to use all the time, on a daily basis when I build and make Sims characters. I tend to make a lot of Legacy families with new packs. So many possibilities out there.
Is there a Pack that you feel you haven’t seen that you want to see in the game?
Ooh. Everyone has been saying this for years, and I’m one of them: I think we need a very dedicated Generations Pack that focuses a lot on all the age stages, rather than just a select few like Young Adults or Toddlers or Kids, but all of them. Some people thought Parenthood was the Generations Pack, but in a way it isn’t, because it’s more so focused on parenting the kids and having them become better Sims when they grow older, but I’d rather focus on Elders and the Babies and all the age stages, where I can do these select interactions with them, to further develop their character values.
And I just think that with more family gameplay, the more creative the Simmers will be with their storytelling. Also, their builds. Going back to The Sims 3: Generations, that was literally the best expansion pack to ever exist in The Sims 3 for me because it had everything you wanted from the proms to the graduations, the video camera where you can document your special moments and share them on the TV. Those were the small details that I really, really love. I sometimes cry because it’s so wholesome and so kind. I need that enjoyment back in my game. So definitely a Generations expansion pack is 100% needed. If they ever do it, I would love to be a part of that process in creating it, the builds or the families a part of it. I want to have some sort of involvement with it at least.
What’s your favorite out of all the versions of The Sims?
I did say The Sims 3 for Generations but The Sims 2. Hands down, The Sims 2, no doubt about it, was definitely the best game to exist in The Sims franchise. People say Sims 3 is cool because of the open world, Sims 4 because of new players, but no, Sims 2. Once you start playing Sims 2, you’ll never stop. There’s so much drama. There’s so much richness in the game that you didn’t expect to see, but it is a life simulation game.
The one neighborhood, I’m pretty sure was in the base game, was Pleasantview. And that one neighborhood, I constantly play in all the time because there’s so much history to it. The Goth family. The Pleasants. Letharios. Calientes. The entire Sims that we know and love, it goes down like deep after 25 years of history that has been dealt with in that town. You want to understand, what really happened, who killed who, why is Bella Goth missing. There is so much you get to learn in The Sims 2 from the Memories, your interest. There’s just so much. I can’t explain it, but The Sims 2 is superior to any Sims game I’ve ever played, honestly.
The Sims 4 just released a new update and I saw you’ve been really involved with the building, with the platforms making apartments and bunk beds. How has that particular update expanded the game?
It expanded a lot. When that update came out, I immediately updated my game and started building nonstop. I started renovating some apartments that I wanted to do because I knew that some of the apartments were flat and some had two stories, so I wanted to test out the platforms on that. I also did a bunch of kids’ rooms and just seeing what I can come up with. Even expanding to mansion builds and decking out the entire landscaping, the facade of the house, because the first thing that people see in the Gallery and on the YouTube video thumbnail is the front of the house, so I want to make sure these houses look realistic in a way when it comes to landscaping and clutter around the house.
I don’t know, it just makes the builds, for me, come to life even more. You get more personality from it, and you’re able to kind of give it a sense of, hey someone lives here, this is their room, and they deck out their bedroom this way. Or the kitchen, or the living room, whatever. I think with the platforms, it has been a game-changer for everyone. Even though they’re a little bit buggy right now, they are one of the best things to happen to The Sims 4 since Toddlers. I have seen so many creative builds out there on Twitter, the Gallery, YouTube, and the way people come up with all of these ideas is just crazy good.
How do you feel, as a builder, that The Sims 4 has provided the tools you need to make the creations you like to make?
I’m so happy. The platforms, the new half-walls, the roofing… I feel like The Sims 4 is the best game for building. It’s a lot easier to understand, because when you go to The Sims 3, there are so many things you can do, and it’s a lot to handle. The color wheel, the elevation, the manipulation, but I just think The Sims 4 has really improved my building skills a lot more, in a way that I can carry over to The Sims 3 or The Sims 2, or whenever The Sims 5 happens. I learn a lot about architecture because I do a lot of research when I do builds. I want to learn how to build these certain types of buildings in The Sims 4. Now that we have all these new capabilities of building, it’s become a lot easier and I can expand a lot more creatively.
Where do you find inspiration for your builds? How do they come about?
Mostly, I gather inspiration from my builds on Pinterest, a lot. I pin a lot of houses on my boards. Things I want to build. Like right now, I’m pinning a lot of Japanese interior and exterior designs for the new Pack. I also get inspiration from the Gallery. I do look at some YouTube videos for ideas like, “Ooh, I can try that too, but in my own style.” Also real-life houses, too. I live in a suburban area, so I build a lot of suburban houses constantly. I gather inspiration from here, there, wherever, pretty much.
Who is your go-to for object, furniture, and overall building content?
I don’t really use any custom content for my builds. I know console players and I know myself, I don’t have time to link everything, so I don’t really use CC. I tend to use a lot of the in-game content that is provided in the game. But I use a lot of debug (laughs). I use so much debug. I’m so glad that they gave us the “Show Hidden Objects” cheat, which unlocked everything in the game, over the thousands of objects that are in the surrounding area. That made building so much more fun. I kinda just use those types of objects in the game for my builds.
But custom content for Create-A-Sim? That’s another thing! I am a CC addict. I use a bunch of CC content for CAS to make my Sims look different, more diverse in shape, sizes, hairstyles, everything. I use xMiraMira’s skin tones and melanin skin pack a lot. I use GrimCookie and CrypticSim’s makeup. Kujoko eyelashes. Even the non-CC people use them too. I’ve also been using a lot of variety of clothing items.
I mix and match mostly with the in-game content and custom content for CAS to stylize my Sims in a different way. Preline Sims is also another good one for eyebrows and accessories. No doubt about it, I love their stuff. But yeah, those are the type of creations I download on a daily basis when they upload stuff to their website or their Tumblr. And I tend to reblog everything on my CC Finds Tumblr, just in case I want to reference old CC I had before and want to download again, and also for other people, too.
What has it been like to be a part of the Game Changers program? They seem to be getting people more involved, for example, the Skin Tones update. What’s that like?
So far, the Game Changers program has been the highlight of my life. I’ve been part of it for five years and I like that they are now listening to the Game Changers and the community, and collaborating with the Game Changers, like on the recent Snowy Escape Pack and now the skin tone update. That makes me so happy. We’re finally having the title actually mean something. Game Changers, we are changing the game in our own way and collaborating with the team to make improvements that we think would be best for the community.
The developers and designers of The Sims game are really talented, and I feel like if they incorporate the Game Changers a lot more, it’s going to be even better. I’m glad that they collaborated with Mira, for example, on the skin tones because she has provided so much for so many different people around the world to make themselves in the game, including myself, and giving her the access to provide her insight and her knowledge of how she thinks the skin tones should look, means a lot. That's going to have a huge impact on everyone.
One thing I think they should do more of is bringing in more Game Changers from a diverse background and seeing what they could provide to the Game Changers program. Whether it’s making content for them, or builds, just involving the Game Changers more by providing feedback that has an actual change in the updates or packs, whatever they do, would be very beneficial.
How did you go from sharing content to getting into streaming?
I started around 3 years ago, in 2017, and I went into Twitch because I knew some friends on Twitch that were streaming Sims. I was like, I might as well join too and see what’s happening, what’s going on. Since then, I have had the most fun streaming The Sims and being on that platform. I felt the community. I felt the connection that I was missing from YouTube, and it felt so good to finally be happy to play a game with other people who had the same interest and being able to collaborate with my community on different ideas.
We had developed this lovely idea of making challenges every month to expand our building creativity for me, and for other people. We do tours, and it’s so cool to see how people build in the game and kinda gather inspiration from each other on tips and tricks they did and what’s the story behind their certain families or their build, or how they do their gameplay. I always ask my community questions. What are you doing in The Sims? Got drama? Spill the tea? I want to understand your background with The Sims when people started. I just think that streaming has made my love of The Sims grow even more. If I was just doing YouTube, I feel like I wouldn’t have that same enjoyment but being live and seeing people and interacting with them, just made it so much more worthwhile. The Sims community has grown even more because of streaming, I have to say.
There are newer and better people coming out of this community, doing amazing things, and it really shows that The Sims community is really passionate and we’re really out here making a difference for everyone, no matter who you are. It’s a game, that I think that everyone should definitely give it a go, and make their own story of how they want it. I always tell my community, if you don’t see something, create something. And I think that has definitely helped a lot of people, like Mira. She didn’t see herself in the game, so she made skin tones to see herself in the game. Ebonixx Sims makes amazing hairstyles for alpha CC. I just think it has expanded so much for everyone. Creatively, personally, professionally. It’s like, The Sims has lasted this long, and I don’t think it ever plans on ever stopping. The more we stream, the more we create, the better the community will be.
What would you like to see in the future of The Sims franchise and Sims community?
Of course, if they ever do The Sims 5, I would love to see if they could definitely bring in, family dynamics, family gameplay, right off the bat. That’s what I really want for the future of The Sims and for Sims 5. If they had to do it now, the way the direction is going now, from what I’ve been seeing it, they’ve been listening more, collaborating more, fixing things more, and putting in the effort to say, we hear you and we’re making the active changes.
I’m seeing more transparency, more diversity in the game for all cultures from skin tones to hairstyles, and being able to show that we are going to continue to change the game for everyone, so you can see yourself in the game, and not just see certain types of people, you know? So I’d love to definitely see more diversity and inclusion and being able to provide more inside of what they’re doing. I want to see more family gameplay. More everything, basically.