The New Sims 4 Expansion, Snowy Escape, Expands Its Cultural Diversity

Though not without controversy.

Earlier this week, the new expansion pack for The Sims 4, Snowy Escape, was announced. Starting on Nov. 13, you can travel to the Japanese-inspired world of Mt. Komorebi, where your Sims can rock climb, ski, sled, and snowboard.

You’ll be able to engage in more than just those kinds of adrenaline-rushing sports activities, though. Get your Sim in the onsen bathhouse to relax and heal any injuries. Do low-key excursions like traveling along the hiking trails outside of town, exploring bamboo forests, or visiting the mountain temple.

There will also be plenty of “traditional and modern” Japanese items, furniture, and clothing options. From being able to add koi fish to decorative fountains to building a lovely Japanese-style home with sliding doors, this pack will bring plenty of new large and small additions to the ever-popular game.

In fact, perhaps the most significant features will be Lifestyles and Sentiments, which are meant to add more depth to Sims’ personalities and relationships. There will be up to 16 Lifestyles, which “will manifest in response to a Sim’s actions and habits, changing their behaviors significantly more than Create a Sim traits as they reflect a Sim’s lived experiences.” Sentiments “will represent how two Sims can feel differently about the outcome of a shared experience and have a lasting impact on Sims’ relationships to each other, affecting their social interactions.”

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Many in the community are happy to see this new expansion pack, going as far as calling it a “redemption arc” from the last not-so-fondly-received game pack, The Sims 4: Star Wars: Journey to Batuu. Some are particularly glad to see The Sims 4 continue to expand and depict non-American cultures. The game’s seventh expansion, Island Living, took place in the paradise world of Sulani, which is based on Polynesian islands and is most influenced by the Hawaiian Islands in its look and feel. Now, the setting of the game’s tenth expansion will clearly be inspired by Japanese culture.

This has not been without controversy, however. Many South Korean players raised concerns over insensitive and problematic imagery in the reveal trailer, such as the inclusion of shrines and a clothing design that is evocative of the Rising Sun flag. (While some fans online have pointed out that they can see it more as a fan, it is generally agreed upon that there should have been more consideration).

Graham Nardone, a producer on The Sims, responded to the controversy on Oct. 23. He wrote in a Twitter thread:

Hi, Simmers! We modified the reveal trailer for The Sims 4 Snowy Escape and have made changes to the pack to respect our Korean players. I want you to know that those changes will be in-game when Snowy Escape launches. Specifically, we will not have Sims bow in front of shrines in the world of Mt. Komorebi. Further, we’ve adjusted some patterns on clothing and objects within Snowy Escape that unintentionally evoked imagery with painful historic meaning. We aim to be inclusive. We involve others both within and outside of our team, and we listen to them as representatives of the cultures that we draw inspiration from. We’re unwavering in our commitment to representing more of our player’s lives in an authentic and respectful way.

The Sims 4′s Snowy Escape expansion pack will be available on Nov. 13, 2020, once the clock strikes midnight in your region on Origin and at 10 a.m. PT for Steam, Xbox One, and Playstation 4. It will cost $39.99.