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On July 28, “High School Years,” the newest expansion pack for The Sims 4, will be released. In addition, a free update will include a number of new features, including new possibilities for sexual orientation.
Many LGBTQIA+ individuals have found refuge in The Sims throughout the course of its existence, and earlier this year, a prominently featured gay marriage made them the face of the game’s “Wedding Stories” extension. The choice to not sell the extension in Russia owing to the nation’s anti-gay legislation caused controversy, although the expansion was followed by an update in May that introduced pronouns.
SimGuruJessica, the design lead for High School Years, seemed to understand that each of these actions confirms individuals who have invested endless hours discovering themselves via the mirror of their Sims. “Authenticity is a concern that often comes up in relation to features like this, and rightfully so… Many members of the team, myself included, are part of the LGBTQIA+ community,” the Sims 4 design blog stated regarding the new Sexual Orientation feature.
Having said that, each member of the team only represents a small portion of the collective lived experiences. In order to guarantee that we have gathered the broadest variety of perspectives on how to handle this feature in a manner that respects and elevates the community, we have worked closely with GLAAD and the It Gets Better Project.
Your Sim’s romantic and sexual preferences may be modified on a few axes with the Sexual Orientation tool. The method doesn’t require a check, so you may simply portray your Sim as being aromantic. The second factor is who your Sim is attracted to, which will make them immediately reject any romantic interactions with someone they aren’t attracted to. You may test if your Sim’s sexual orientation can change in the interim by playing the game; this will either lock in their inclinations or let them alter over time, as they occasionally do in real life.
The last part of the Sexual Orientation feature is the separate setting for sex, or WooHoo as The Sims affectionately refers to it. You can choose which genders your Sim will go for a tumble with, and similar to the attraction options, you can easily represent your Sim’s asexuality by leaving both unchecked. Aro and ace identities are usually unmentioned or ignored, so the explicit choice to affirm players who want Sims with those identities is a really nice touch.
SimGuruJessica recognizes that gender and attraction in Sims 4 are still binary, but they also go into further detail in the post’s FAQ: “At this time, TS4 is eight years old and is dependent on technologies that were designed with a gender binary in mind.
Since then, we’ve made significant advancements in areas like pronouns, gender customization, and most recently, sexual orientation. There are still many more steps to be taken on this path. Another stage in that process is developing appropriate mechanical systems to properly accept non-binary Sims.”
Most importantly, SimGuruJessica answered a question I’m certain someone would (sadly) ask if they hadn’t in their FAQ with an incredible response: Can I disable this feature?
“No. While we make an effort to provide players the opportunity to deactivate certain gameplay elements, LGBTQIA+ identities are a reality and cannot be toggled on or off.”