Sims fans, sexual orientation settings are coming to Create a Sim in The Sims 4, and the feature will be available to all players of the base game. In a post today explaining the feature and some of its ins and outs (pun only somewhat intended), design lead SimGuruJessica explained the reasoning behind the new feature:
As a team, we hold creativity, discovery, inclusivity and play as core values and strive every day to celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion for our people and community. With that in mind, we’re delighted to bring the Sexual Orientation feature to all Simmers. Between this update and the recent pronouns update, we’re taking several strides forward into being a game that respects and celebrates the nuance and color of everyday life.
It is important to acknowledge that these are steps in a journey that we are still mapping out. There is much further to go, and while I can’t get into the details of where exactly we go next, please know that we are committed to continuing to improve our representation of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Authenticity is a point that often comes up in regards to features like this, and rightly so. As such I’ll try to peel the curtain back a bit and speak to our efforts in making sure we got this right. Many members of the team, myself included, are part of the LGBTQIA+ community. That said, each one of us on the team represents only a narrow slice of lived experiences. As such we’ve worked extensively with GLAAD and the It Gets Better Project to ensure that we’ve captured the widest possible range of viewpoints on how to approach this feature in a manner that respects and elevates the community.”
While I am not personally a Sims player, the game inspired genres I play daily, and frankly, I do love it when the industry gets a little gayer. It’s all part of my stated agenda, after all (that was a joke). Players will be able to set their sim’s preferences easily in the Create A Sim feature, with “a simple, affirmative statement of who your Sim is attracted to.” If a sim tries to get busy with a sim whose gender is not in your sim’s preference, they will simply be rejected.
Players can change their sim’s sexual attraction at any time, and there are separate options for who they are romantically attracted to, whether they are exploring romantic attraction, and whether they are interested in messing around (aka WooHoo).
“If you’re trying to tell the story of an Asexual Sim, you could leave all options unchecked. On the flipside, you could tell the story of an Aromantic Sim by selecting WooHoo interests, but leaving all romantic attraction boxes unchecked.”
This is all pretty cool, but there is one pretty glaring omission that SimGuruJessica does address: there is still no non-binary option for a sim’s gender.
In a FAQ down the post, they write:
Why are there only two gender options?
This is a natural question to ask given that we just recently released the pronouns update.
I’ll try to be very transparent with this one. This is due to technical limitations. As stated above, mechanically, non binary Sims don’t yet exist in TS4. You still have to make a binary gender selection for your Sim at creation, regardless of pronoun settings. We hope that we’ve shown our commitment to improving representation of gender identities with features such as Gender Customization, which allows you to modify physical frame, clothing preferences, pregnancy and toilet use options. We look at the pronouns update as another important step toward better representation of non binary genders, but we also acknowledge that pronouns are not the same thing as gender identities.
TS4 is 8 years old at this point, and reliant on systems that were originally architected with a gender binary in mind. In the intervening years, we’ve taken important steps such as Gender Customization, Pronouns and now Sexual Orientation. It’s a journey still in progress, with many more steps to go. Proper mechanical systems to fully support non binary Sims is another step in that journey.
They do, to their credit end the FAQ on a high note here:
Can I turn this feature off?
No. 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.
The feature is available to all base game players with the next update — slated to launch on July 28th — alongside the High School Years expansion