For the past 21 years, The Sims has made everyday life into a video game. So, what happens when you let the video game control everyday life? You get an absurd Twitch stream, whose audience gets to play around with what a real person does all day.
Twitch streamer and YouTuber Jeremy “Jerma985” Elbertson took the concept of Sims into the real life with a stream where viewers voted in real time and controlled him as if he were a Sims character. Elbertson ran the series, called The Dollhouse, as part of three different events over this past weekend. You can watch the archived videos on his Twitch channel.
“I am looking to always push the boundaries of the medium and create the most entertaining and fun experience for my audience,” Elbertson told Polygon via email. As Elbertson walked around his set, viewers directed him with an on-screen widget showing all the things they could make him do. Elbertson’s idea, he said, was “to create an experience for viewers that looks and feels like playing an actual video game.”
The streams were a full theater production, including a set that comprised two bedrooms and a front yard. In the stream, Elbertson behaved like a Sim character, constantly pacing and pointing at random objects. As Elbertson went through his imaginary day, manipulated by his audience, an on-site crew of roughly 35 people ran the lights, brought props, transitioned scenes, helped the audience customize the house, and sometimes stood in for other characters
The all-powerful audience did its part, cooking up some pretty ridiculous scenarios. We rounded up some of the best moments from this weekend’s show.
Jerma takes a shower while someone else cleans
In Sims, your character sleeps, showers, eats, and even pees and poops like any normal person would. So of course, some people tuned in to see how Elbertson dealt with this. For example, did he actually pee on stream? The answer to that question is no, but it did give him the opportunity to create some funny scenarios in the bathroom. For example, the audience made him shower with another character in the room.
Ludwig catches Jerma in bed with death
Ludwig Ahgren, who broke records with his 31-day long subathon, surprised viewers by making an appearance as a sexy maid. At first, Ahgren’s appearance had the buzz of a fun crossover event, but then the two got into more shenanigans as Ahgren made himself at home. At one point, Ahgren confronted Elbertson after seeing him in bed with the Grim Reaper.
Just like the Sims, Elbertson had status bars representing basic needs like Hunger, Energy, and Fun, which in turn influenced his performance. After a stretch of poor, but funny decisions, the audience didn’t let Elbertson sleep and ran his energy bar completely to zero. So we got to see him die in the middle of a push up.
Jerma streams from the toilet
This is a bit meta, but at one point in the stream, the audience made Elbertson have a dream. In the dream, he streams from the toilet and poops himself. This sequence is actually a fever dream, filled with dozens of cast members dressed as weird characters, like a cowboy wielding a giant sword and someone in a full bear suit.
Overall, the event was a lot like watching an improv show; instead of the audience shouting out prompts, they used a Twitch widget to guide the performers. And while the concept of a more theatrical stream is nothing new for Elbertson — his previous work as a creator fits in nicely since he’s done other lives sketches like “Jerma Rumble - Live Action!” — it did showcase new potential for Twitch as its creators continue to push the platform forward.