For much of the world, “the Hamptons” exude an image of glamour and prestige—the quintessential luxury resort town.
A good portion of this reputation stems from the elaborate estates scattered throughout the South Fork. Whether in Bridgehampton, like Madonna’s sprawling farm-like manor, or in Amagansett, like Jerry Seinfeld’s beachy hideaway, these homes and others like them have come to represent their own style of architecture.
It was that style that first inspired 16-year-old Baptiste Vincens of Nantes, France, to build an impressive Hamptons house of his own. At least in the world of “The Sims,” that is.
“The Sims” is described by Maxis, its developer, as a “life simulation video game series.” Players create virtual people, called Sims, who move into a neighborhood and take up residence. They might move into an already-made house—but, even better, the player has the option to create a new home for their Sim from scratch, deciding, like a real-life architect or designer, every detail, from where the walls will go to what the paint colors and interior furnishings will be.
As game sequels and expansion packs offer ever more elaborate options, “The Sims” has attracted a worldwide following of gamers who spend less time actually playing than building highly detailed, elaborate houses and structures to share with fellow Sims lovers online. Many of these builders record the building process through a video feature in the game and post them on YouTube, where some builders boast more than 500,000 views. While not all the videos go viral, these creators exhibit a painstaking dedication to capturing details of design and decor.
Baptiste, who first played the game at age 12, is one of them.
The young man, seen by many in the gaming community as an innovator, has now created nine Hamptons-inspired homes. Most are originals stemming from Baptiste’s studies of Hamptons architecture, but three are re-creations of decadent homes from two of his favorite TV shows, “Castle” and “Revenge.”
“The houses out there are so beautiful and grand,” he said this week in an email. “It is definitely, and will always be, my favorite architecture style ever. I also love the interior design over there.”
The gamer said he even watched videos from the 2015 Hamptons Designer Showcase to garner ideas for his creations.
While the Sims is categorized as a game, building homes and community lots takes much practice and skill. Like an actual architect, builders must draw up the structures from scratch—including choosing and placing roof lines, windows and foundations.
Baptiste explained that after buying “The Sims 3” he had begun to watch Youtube videos in which players demonstrated how they built and decorated their houses. “I remember wondering how the builders managed to build so beautiful houses when I couldn’t even finish one myself,” he said this week.
Eventually, after practicing the builders’ techniques while playing the game, Baptiste was ready to complete virtual houses of his own when “The Sims 4” came out in September 2014.
After watching an episode of ABC’s crime dramedy “Castle,” he was inspired to bring that show to life in the game. The house was fictional crime novelist Richard Castle’s fictional Hamptons home in Southampton, featured on the episode “Murder She Wrote” in season five. Although the real 10,000-square-foot house is actually located in Malibu, California, it was chosen for the show because it resembled homes in Southampton.
“The exterior of the house has a rather simple layout, so it was quite easy to get it right,” Baptiste said. “The barn roofs were actually simple to place because of the really simple roof tool in ‘The Sims.’
“The actual challenge came with the floor plan,” he continued. “When I started to work it, I had a very blurred idea of it and I understood that I had to re-skim through the episode to ‘understand’ how it really was and, watching it again, I discovered a shot with Castle and Beckett walking through the main corridor, which really helped me understand the layout of the rooms.”
“Castle” is not the only show to be set in the Hamptons but actually filmed in other locations. On “Revenge,” leading lady Emily Thorne’s “Hamptons” beach house is actually located in Southport, North Carolina. Villainous Victoria’s Grayson Manor doesn’t exist at all outside of “Revenge,” but rather was created using CGI, or computer graphics interface. Like the others, Grayson Manor was directly inspired by Hamptons estates, however.
“From when I began to watch ‘Revenge,’ I knew I wanted to build this house in ‘The Sims,’ so I took screenshots as soon as I thought a shot could be interesting for my build,” Baptiste said of Emily’s beach house. “When I got to it, it turned out to be quite easy because of them.
“The second floor was a little bit more difficult to build and furnish but it turned out OK,” he said. “What was especially interesting in this house was the furniture, which was very vintage and seemed very collected over time, so it really inspired me for other builds and allowed me to use items I had never used before.”
The process of creating those homes, Baptiste said, was time consuming and frankly difficult. When he builds houses straight from his imagination, it typically takes only two or three hours, he said. But Baptiste said it took him more than two months to complete the “Sims” version of Grayson Manor, with the challenge being that the exterior is computer generated, while the interior is not.
“Obviously, the interior didn’t match the exterior at all, so I had to find a way to fit the interior … in a Grayson Manor-looking exterior and it was very, very tricky,” he said.
Baptiste added that he had a lot of fun furnishing the interior, and said he was especially proud of the grand foyer and great living room with a balcony, “which was so difficult to come up with,” he said, and added that “architecture is something I am really into and I would love to be an architect when I [am] older.”
Baptiste said he definitely plans to visit the South Fork to see his muses for himself. His videos can be seen through his Youtube account, BSimBuilder.
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