The Sims 4 finally rolls out non-binary and customisable pronouns in inclusive new update
Iconic life simulation game The Sims 4 is introducing customisable pronouns to honour and represent its dedicated LGBTQ+ fans.
EA and Maxis released on Tuesday (24 May) a brand new update to make the game a more inclusive place by granting players the ability to customise the pronouns of the Sims they create.
Players will be able to enter the name of their character, as usual, as well as choose their Sim’s pronouns from a new dropdown menu of pronouns. Individuals can also add custom pronouns with some grammatical guidelines in the new user interface that lets players see how the pronouns will look through different examples of gameplay, prompts or notifications.
The Sims development team worked closely with the It Gets Better Project and GLAAD to understand how to utilise the pronoun update and the impact it would have on LGBTQ+ players.
John Faciane, an associate producer, told PinkNews that the team was keen to tackle “this area of gender diversity and representation of LGBTQIA+ folks” with the new update. He added that one of the challenges has been that The Sims 4 has been “around for quite some time now” so there were some “challenges” to get to this point.
“This first iteration is focusing mainly on the customisable pronouns aspect, and the intricacies of how that works with the English language and the game are pretty complex,” Faciane said. “So while this is a step in the right direction, we fully acknowledge that there’s more that we can do in the future moving forward.”
He added that it was “important for us to get this out into players’ hands” because the team knew it was an crucial step for the Sims players and allowing for “better representation of folks with different gender expressions in the game”.
The Sims 4 executive producer Phill Ring told PinkNews that the pronoun update was a feature that “we’ve been thinking about for a little while”. He said it was important for the team to do their “homework” so that “any implementation that we are doing feels that it’s something that the community is asking for”.
Ring added that this community aspect was really important as The Sims has a thriving, dedicated and loyal fanbase. He described how many fans “grow into these moments” while playing The Sims and possibly are discovering parts of themselves in the game.
“We have a huge audience of all different ages, but knowing that there’s kind of these key important moments in people’s lives where they’re working out exactly what their identity is and who they are in the world – us being able to go ‘OK, what are the steps that we can do to help people on that journey, help people be able to find that representation’,” Ring said.
Ring told PinkNews that The Sims 4 creators are looking forward to creating an “open dialogue” on the update so they know “how we can evolve, how we can change” to better represent their community.
Faciane described how, as an openly gay man working in the gaming industry, the “environment” in gaming has shifted to becoming more inclusive of LGBTQ+ people and other communities in recent years.
Since the first game in the series, The Sims has captured the attention of a wide variety of players because of its open sandbox game play and sense of escapism as well as fantasy.
Back in 1999, the game unexpectedly included a kiss between two female Sims while it was being shown to the public at the E3 event in Los Angeles. Just this year, The Sims 4 added a new expansion pack celebrating queer love story of two female Sims named Dominique and Camille.
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In recent years, The Sims has continued to develop gender customisation in the game including clothing preferences; standing or sitting at the toilet; or whether a Sim can become pregnant or impregnate others. However, these options still relied on the gender binary.
“Just seeing how far we’ve progressed because people are talking about games like the Sims in vivid communities and hearing all of those stories about this just really makes me happy that we’re doing something good in the industry and doing something good for our players and helping them be able to authentically in the games just does drive me to want to do more for the game,” Faciane said.