Image of the USS Enterprise-D in space

Introduction to Simming

Simming is an exciting gateway to new worlds, new ideas, and the depths of your imagination. Watching science fiction is exciting, but living science fiction takes the passive and gets you involved. Universes are yours to explore.

Types of Simming

There are two primary types of simming: live action and PBeM/MB. They're explained in more detail below.

Live Action Simming

Live action sims take place in online chatrooms once a week. The SLA's current live action games are held on AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) or IRC (Internet Relay Chat). We're also experimenting with the idea of live action simming in Second Life, but we have no Second Life games on our roster at present. Sims typically last between an hour and two hours, depending on the sim; most last about one hour.

So, what makes live action simming different from other types? It occurs, well, live! You're actually in a chatroom with your fellow simmers, involved in the action in real-time, making split decisions, and (nearly) instantly seeing the results of your actions. PBeM and MB sims run at a much slower pace.

Some people find live action simming difficult because, as a member, you're committing to being online for at least an hour or two each week at a specific time. Most sims are held once a week, generally during the evenings in United States timezones, although we're interested in offering sims that cater to residents of other regions of the world if there are enough people interested.

A unique feature of live action sims is the log. Most PBeM and MB sims don't have anything that directly corresponds to the concept of logs. They're extremely flexible — they can be stories written from your character's perspective, narrative-style log entries like you might see on Star Trek, or even collaborative stories that you write with other simmers. Many people enjoy crafting stories in logs as much as they enjoy the sims every week!

When compared to PBeM and MB sims, live action sims often involve more action-packed plots with less emphasis on character development. (This isn't a hard rule, but a general trend.) Some consider them to be more exciting. Ultimately, which one you prefer is a matter of taste.

Play by E-Mail and Message Board Simming

Unlike live action simming, play by e-mail and message board sims aren't structured around a live event. You contribute to a sim by posting, writing a small portion of the overall story. You can also do a joint post with other members, writing a few paragraphs or a few pages, allowing for some of the fast-paced interactions that live action sims offer. Mainly, PBeM and MB sims are about writing.

These sims usually focus heavily on characters. On some PBeM and MB sims, each simmer has several characters, creating a rich diversity of people for your character to interact with. Many storylines focus on the characters, and through the expressive format of the sim, you're able to reveal a lot about your character through description and nuance. Live action sims aren't as good at this, and that's a major reason that some prefer simming by e-mail or message board.

Because these sims don't take place at a fixed time, you can contribute to the story anytime you have a few minutes. The story develops constantly, often with new posts everyday. Requirements vary by sim, but on most sims you'll be asked to post at least once a week. You can, of course, post more often!

Many PBeM and MB simmers prefer this format because their schedules are unpredictable. It allows you to sim on your own schedule instead of adapting your schedule around the sim. It's not better or worse than live action simming, just different. You may want to try your hand at both and see what you prefer!

Simming Genres

In the SLA, we have a wide variety of genres that you can choose from. We started out as a Star Trek group (hence our name), and over the years we've branched out into a variety of other science fiction universes. Different genres sometimes involve slight changes to the way a sim runs.

In military-oriented genres like Star Trek and Stargate, the chain of command is very important, and promotions are used to reward active simmers. Some people focus entirely on gaining their next promotion. Others are involved for the stories and the characters and put less emphasis on rank.

Other genres, such as Firefly, don't typically use rank so heavily. (As with many things, this isn't a hard rule; there are exceptions, such as Alliance cruisers, and a ship's first mate.) Because of a decreased focus on the chain of command, stories sometimes have a different dynamic to them. If you're used to one type of sim, trying another just for the experience can be a lot of fun.

We're always looking for new genres to expand into, so if you have ideas, don't hesitate to bring them up! You can talk to your CO (the leader of your sim — on most sims, this is the captain), post your ideas on the SLA boards, or discuss them with other group officials.

To see what genres are available in the SLA, explore our sim listing.