This new reality show for The Sims players, like Project Runway for gamers, is more LGBT-inclusive than Love Island

The Sims Reality show

A new reality competition show for players of cult game The Sims will tackle the issues of gender, sexuality, class and race.

Premiering on Friday, 16 July, on TBS, The Sims Spark’d will have a familiar reality competition show format, similar to Project Runway. Episodes will be released each Friday, and will then become available on the Buzzfeed Multiplayer YouTube channel the following Monday.

Twelve contestants, who are mostly “simfluencers” from YouTube and Twitch, will take part in challenges via the game, for example designing two rival families from different neighbourhoods or creating a specific storyline, competing for a grand prize of $100,000.

The Sims has long been praised for its inclusivity, allowing players to simulate same-sex relationships, queer families, non-binary characters and a wide range of gender expression, and according to the New York Times, Spark’d will be no different.

Issues of gender, sexuality, race and class will reportedly feature “heavily” in the competition, which will become the first mainstream reality show revolving around a computer game.

One of the judges, 26-year-old singer and songwriter Tayla Parx, said: “The theme of the show and the game is you come as you are and play however represents you.

“For me as a bisexual Black woman, I always found the game really valuable.

“Being able to play with family dynamics and sexual dynamics, it’s made to explore the boundaries of you in a way that’s really beautiful. The worst that can happen is you rebuild again if you don’t like it.”
Lyndsay Pearson, the general manager of The Sims at Electronic Arts added: “It’s all about, ‘How do we make the game reflect the world we live in?’

“The world we live in changes and the stories our players want to tell change and we embrace that. For the show, that’s really what we want to come through.”

Jeanette Wall, a queer music executive and avid player of The Sims, said that the show made her realise how many people also used the game in their journey of self-discovery.

Having played since she was a child, Wall, 28, said her current project within the game is creating a “lesbian commune”.

She said: “I didn’t have any dolls to play with, and The Sims was this total digital dollhouse for me, and I guess it still is.

“The elements of control over the environment are so important – especially for queer people and women – because at various points you feel like your life is so totally out of your control, especially right now when the world we live in is in shambles.

“Hearing about the show, it’s like you didn’t really realise how many people were playing the game all this time for the exact same reasons you were.”