The Sims: Still Failing Diversity 20 Years On


Having been an avid gamer since I was just eight years old, with my very first favourite PC game of all times being The Sims. From the get-go having the chance to build a neighbourhood, develop relationships, create havoc, and be able to play god was amazing. It was, and still is, unbeatable experience. No other simulation game has been able to reach the standard of The Sims franchise… But there is still so much we are missing from the life simulation game.


One major aspect of the game that has been lacking throughout all the franchise is DIVERSITY!


In the most recent game, The Sims 4, we can change the colour of the sim’s skin, hair, and eyes, as well as even being able to change their physical self into being transgender. This is a great step forward…though not enough.


The game is missing vital parts and has some major annoying calendar defaults. Here there are:


Fashion


In the western world we have a very similar set of fashion ideals, however, fashion changes depending on where you are in the world; such as the Islamic sense of modesty, to African bright patterns and tribal differences, to even Asian traditional clothing.


In The Sims 4 the majority of clothes are still based on western fashion leaving the ethnic diversity of the human race out of the equation, meaning that more and more people have to depend on custom contain to enable them to dress their sim with the ethnicity of their choosing, when really this should be included in the base game to truly represent all cultures.


Disabilities


Every sim, with the sim world, all of their limbs, able to walk, aren’t not deaf, blind or mute, and only ever deal with a sense of mental distress when sad or with certain traits such as gloomy and paranoid. This means that the sim world isn’t disability friendly and doesn’t show that everyone matters no matter your physical appearance or abilities. It’s time for a life simulation game to fully embrace disability and include it as an option for sims at creation, and even create lifetime events that could trigger a disability such as illness or accident etc.


Religion


We’ve all seen the addition of the hijab in create-a-sim, but what other clothes embrace real life religious aspects?

Getting off this small aspect of religious fashion, apart for dress sense there is none to little choice of picking whether or not your sims of religious and they all celebrate the Christian holidays such as Christmas and valentine’s day (Winterfest and Love day). Worse yet, is that these holidays cannot be removed for one family but instead when removed is taken away from the whole neighbourhood. So as a the user you need to decided whether your whole neighbourhood will celebrate a holiday or not, or if you leave it then your sim who you don’t want to celebrate Christian holidays gets a negative moodlets, why?! Not every human on earth is Christian so this needs to be flexible.


Could the calendar not to programmed for individual family religious preferences? So, if the creator wanted to build a Sikh or Hindu family their festival calendar only show events relating to them and their preference. This would be much more inclusive of cultures and religious, and in turn show a much more realistic element to life simulation.


Sexuality


The Sims has been great in embracing sexual preference and in The Sims 3 you could select which gender your sims were attracted to and the traits that best suited the type of person you wanted your sim to be with. That element was scrapped and created a much poorer relationship builder element in The Sims 4. Every sims sexuality is now flexible, and traits don’t really affect the bond between people. The traits have become nonsense as they don’t really affect the sim’s life.


Having the ability to choose a sims sexuality, their preference and how they feel about themselves would create a better life game, because this is what we deal with in real life.


Birthmarks and Vilitigo

While in create-a-sim, we can add facial moles, scaring, and even tattoos there is no choice to add birthmarks or differ skin tone on different areas of the body without custom content.


This means the game ignores skin conditions that people are born with and gives users this idea of a mark-free air-brushed perfection of a human being.

If, without custom content (which can effect gameplay) these natural skin conditions, blemishes and marks were included in create-a-sim it would make more people happier in their own skin in real life because they’ll be able to make an exact virtual match to themselves instead of a this perfect ideal version of themselves. Time for some body positivity.


Size


In all of the sims games we have been able to adjust the size of sims and The Sims 4 has been great at this.


However, we are unable to change height meaning those that are either below or above average height are not included in game play nor are those who are obese or anorexic. While I’m not promoting eating disorders to be included, it is something that affects so many people and by not including the chance to create sims that suffer from eating disorders then we are completely ignoring this aspect of life and teaching opportunity to show its negative affects.

On the height perspective we are ignoring dwarfism, gigantism, and even just standard fluctuation of height difference. These height differences are not just affected by age, which the game would allow you to believe.



While there is so much more than could be changed and improved in The Sims 4 game, we are now waiting on The Sim 5, I only hope that diversity is fully included and no one feels left out.


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Cambridge UK

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©2020 by Sofia Vigo.