Feature: How The Sims became the most LGBT-friendly game of all time

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

It came not with a WooHoo, but with a whimper.

Last week, Maxis – the studio behind long-running life simulator series The Sims – announced a small change to their current title, The Sims 4.

The free update, automatically rolled out to all users, would apparently make changes so “female Sims can wear suits like Ellen [DeGeneres], and male Sims can wear heels like Prince”.

In reality it did much, much more than that.
Feature: How The Sims became the most LGBT-friendly game of all time
The game is already a pariah among social conservatives due to its acceptance of same-sex marriage, gay parenting, extra-marital sex and non-traditional families – but the update brings more progressiveness than near-enough any other video game.

I dived in head-first (in a futile attempt to justify the game purchase as a work expense) and soon discovered that as in real life, many of the world’s pre-conceived gender identities are breaking down.

Creating my first character, Lex Lexington, I was presented not with just a binary choice between male and female, but with a custom list of options for various mutually-exclusive gender identifiers.

Do I want Lex to stand up to pee? Do I want them to be able to get pregnant? Their sex is male, but what’s their clothing preference… and do they have the body frame to match? What does their voice sound like?
Feature: How The Sims became the most LGBT-friendly game of all time

All of these settings were adjustable, and there’s any number of different combinations.

This was just the start. I decided to make Lex as gender-nonconforming as possible, and after trying on a few outfits, settled on a red dress for daywear.

It’s important to stress that while the game asks you to pick a gendered clothing preference, this isn’t actually hard-wired: gender-specific clothing has simply been abolished.

You can mix a dress with boy shoes, or wear camo and high heels. You can wear a bra even if you don’t have boobs. Clothing, as in real life, is just clothing.

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