Kelsey Impicciche Talks Malibu Barbie Dreamhouse, Elle Woods, and Growing Up With The Sims
I remember when I would rush home every day after school, running up the stairs to get The Sims booted up as fast as I could. I would spend hours building houses and wreaking havoc in my Sims' lives with my friends. We played every version of The Sims together, learning all the cheat codes and glitches, and lying to our parents about what "Woohoo" means.
As the years have gone by, and since my computer processor is unable to run The Sims 4 without screeching, I stopped playing as often. One day during my last semester of university, I was binge-watching YouTube videos (as usual), when I stumbled across BuzzFeed Multiplayer's 100 Baby Challenge. Immediately intrigued, it wasn't long before I was obsessed with the series, rooting for Chelsea and her impossible number of children.
So when Kelsey Impicciche (the fabulous host of the challenge), announced her Malibu Barbie Dreamhouse series, I knew I had to talk to her about it. Malibu Barbie is the OG pink topic and Kelsey literally screams about her love of pink in the first episode. I reached out immediately and set up our interview to talk about pink, Barbie, and video games over the phone.
For those who aren't avid YouTube or Sims fans, the Malibu Barbie Dreamhouse series is hosted on the Buzzfeed Multiplayer YouTube channel and is played in The Sims 4 Island Life expansion pack. Kelsey is the host of the series and is a video producer at BuzzFeed, as well as a YouTuber, Twitch streamer, and gamer.
Interested in what it takes to make Sims videos for BuzzFeed, I asked Kelsey what being a video producer means. She explained that as a video producer, she's involved in everything from pitching the concept of a video, to pre-production, to filming and editing. "Producers do a lot on their own, but everyone has access to equipment and support from the others at the office."
Kelsey had grown up with The Sims the same way that I had, with her interest returning in college as she became aware of The Sims gaming community. She would watch Sims YouTube videos as she made dinner, and became familiar with the different challenges and series within the community. In particular, she would watch Deligracy's Barbie Life In The Dreamhouse series, which expanded Barbie's world beyond being a perfectly pink doll.
When Kelsey started making her own gaming videos, she knew that she had to include The Sims. The long-form videos and the nostalgic feeling of playing The Sims was the perfect combination, and the series has gone on to accumulate over one billion minutes watched altogether. Kelsey was interested in connecting to her audience by challenging them to think beyond the parameters of the series. If you've watched her videos, you may be familiar with what she likes to call her "sneaky feminism." This includes, for example, integrating a range of LGBTQ+ characters in the gameplay. Kelsey plans to continue her fantastic feminist tactics in the Malibu Barbie series, by challenging the stereotypes that come along with Barbie and the colour pink.
"I've loved pink ever since I was a kid. I had a pink phase when I was younger and was just fully in love with the colour. However, at one point, people started to make assumptions about me because I was a blonde girl who loved pink. They didn't think I was capable of doing certain things, and it affected how I felt about myself. I started consciously avoiding the colour in my wardrobe and steered clear of it until I got to college. At one point, I decided that I didn't care about the unspoken ideas that people carry with them about pink. I wanted to look like Elle Woods, and but I was being treated like she was Legally Blonde. However, in that same spirit, I let go and embraced my pink obsession. I can be bold and love to wear pink and it doesn't affect any other part of me.
“I think the colour has a significant social impact. It comes with the work of others' assumptions, but can ultimately be empowering.
"With the Malibu Barbie Dreamhouse series, I wanted to challenge the heteronormative assumptions that come along with Barbie and the colour pink. In the same way that I've always loved gaming and the colour pink, I love Barbie. I took a course on her while I was in school, and I've seen all of the Barbie movies. She has her own YouTube vlog channel, where she tackles some difficult topics. I want Barbie to be able to do whatever she wants, while still staying true to the Barbie fandom. I want her to have every career and to max out every skill." With this series, in particular, Kelsey plans on integrating audience interaction via Twitch streams and the comment section, so that the series feels more like a collaboration with its viewers.
Fostering community is a point that came up often in our conversation, with Kelsey explaining that it's essential for her to really connect with her audience. On the topic of the gaming community, she said that she makes gaming videos for people like her, who didn't think that being a Sims gamer could be a career. "I had never felt super confident in the gaming space until I decided to carve out my own place. I don't have to play Aphex Legends to be a real gamer. I refuse for there to be one definition of what a 'gamer' is. There are pink gamers out there, and we're just as willing to kick your butt in Mario Kart as the next person." She believes that if she had seen a girl like her succeeding as a professional gamer, she wouldn't have doubted herself as a gamer as much. "I make content for my younger self. I don't necessarily think I'm targeting a specific demographic, but I try to make content for people who are like me. People who grew up playing the Sims, and who like gaming. Nothing groundbreaking, but I just want people to feel happy and connected to a community."
Whether it's connecting communities, raising 100 Babies in The Sims 4, or breaking down societal stereotypes about Barbie, Kelsey Impicciche is a positively pink force to be reckoned with.
All images courtesy of Kelsey Impicciche
Kelsey Impicciche is a video producer, YouTuber and Twitch streamer. You can watch the latest Malibu Barbie Dreamhouse here.
Malaika Astorga is our Creative Director, and is currently based in Montreal. She is an illustrator, photographer, designer and writer.