We’re far enough along in the gestation of eSports as a phenomenon that big cash paydays for teams who excel at games like Counter Strike: Global Offensive and Fortnite are no longer especially noteworthy—nor, for that matter, is the presence of such high-tension virtual action competitions on broadcast TV. Indeed, it’s not uncommon for teams at bigger tournaments to end up splitting pots of multiple millions of dollars for scoring high-profile victories with their sniping and scouting skills, often broadcast to plenty of people at home by networks like of ESPN. But it’s slightly less common to see video game players bring down the big bucks with their competitive creativity skills, which is one of the things that makes TBS’s new reality competition show The Sims: Spark’d so surprising, given that it’ll end up granting a $100,000 prize to someone for, well…Playing The Sims really, really well.
Okay, to be fair: The series—produced by Buzzfeed Multiplayer and Turner Sports’ ELeague—is less about keeping your Sim from peeing themselves in public, or “accidentally” falling into a pool that suddenly, mysteriously lacks a ladder. It’ll focus far more on the storytelling possibilities of the real-life-but-everything’s-cute-and-incomprehensible simulator, tasking players with timed challenges built on telling stories using the game’s tools. These will then be judged by a panel, who’ll then reward or eliminate players across the show’s four episodic installments. The winner will be the undisputed Sims master of the planet, and will also have $100,000, one of which may or may not be worth a bit more than the other.
Honestly, we’re just fascinated by trying to imagine how the show—debuting July 17—will try to make The Sims, a game mostly about boredom and tedium, seem interesting. It’s one of those games that shoutcasting doesn’t necessarily work with, although it’s fun to imagine someone trying—”Now, will Brenda click the refrigerator or the toaster?! Oh, strong play there, but Old Man Bladder is always on her heels!” (Dear Spark’d host Rayvon Owen: Feel free to use those exact lines for when you’re talking during the show.)