LGBTQIA+ activists and allies are celebrating Electronic Arts, Maxis, and The Sims 4 today, thanks to the recent steps that the developers have taken toward gender inclusivity. The latest of these steps is an update to the base game that introduces sexuality, a concept that historically hasn’t been featured in The Sims franchise.
I’m all for new gameplay options in a life simulation game but are all these inclusivity-focused updates enough to distract from the failings of the recent packs?
The way relationships and attraction worked prior to the recent update was based on how strong one Sim’s relationship was with another. For instance, if two Sims reached the level of best friends, it would usually be easier for them to initiate romantic interactions. Subsequent to the recent update, the romance and attraction mechanics are based on both relationship strength and the sexual orientation of the Sim in question.
The new feature rolls out alongside the new over-hyped High School Years expansion pack and will be accessible through the Create-A-Sim interface. From here, players can fiddle with three key aspects of their Sims. sexual orientations:
- Their Sim’s primary gender of attraction
- Whether their Sim is open to exploring interactions with other genders
- What genders their Sim is interested in exploring attraction with
Currently, the feature only supports biological binary genders, the natural male and female gender expressions that have been in the Sims franchise since its inception. However, in an effort to further endorse the belief that gender is a human construct and that countless other genders exist outside of the natural male and female designations, EA has vowed to ‘expand this to include additional gender identities that we don’t have at this time.’
For players who don’t want to use this new feature, though, the feature is toggleable, and the options associated therewith can be ignored. However, EA made their stance on the matter unequivocally clear: ‘While we try to give players the option to toggle certain gameplay features, LGBTQIA+ identities are a fact of life and not a toggle to be switched on and off.’
At what point do we decide that The Sims is no longer focused on what players expect from the game after so many years? Why is EA prioritizing inclusivity over gameplay functionality and releasing packs that actually work? The Sims is a game that I, for one, play to get away from reality, not to be bombarded with it.
In other Sims news, we are really close to the release of The Sims 4 High School Years, the first expansion pack for the game in over a year. We’ve already seen the features of the pack, though, and to no one’s surprise, it’s as empty as the other recent packs. I cannot wait for Paralives to enter the life simulation market.