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Forbes: How Does The Sims 4 Handle Gender And Racism?

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Simulation games are sold on the accuracy of their representations, but it’s as much the parts they fake that define them. Few games try to simulate more than The Sims games, which recreate every progressive euphemism we have about love, work, and family. And few games feel as self-consciously fake either. The Sims 4 is an extension of the beloved fantasy about life in America, a fandango of shopping, working, defecating, and making woohoo in a suburban utopia where Simolians and skill points make the block go round. In The Sims world even being sad is a source of happiness, with abjection transformed into a slapstick pantomime.

At a demo of the much-anticipated sequel, I asked Maxis ’s PR Manager, Charlie Sinhaseni, about how the studio determines what’s appropriate for inclusion in the game. “We’re not really looking for realism, we’re looking more for believability,” he told me. “It’s kind of a model of life with things like death and aging, but we don’t do things like broken bones and bleeding. It’s just not the kind of thing our game demands.”

One of the special areas of focus in The Sims 4 is improving the Create-A-Sim feature, adding more details to alter the appearance of a Sim with a less stereotypical ways of representing different ethnicities. As he showed me the tool, creating an Asian character that does indeed appear less cartoonish, I wondered if there’d ever been discussions on coding racial awareness into the game systems themselves. Has racism or ethnic group identification ever been something the team has considered building into the game, I ask.

“It gets to the point where it crosses a line,” Sinhaseni told me. “Our game is kind of a caricature of life. We don’t really have a message—there’s no racism message, there’s no tolerance message. We have same-sex marriage in our game. Our Sims will not discriminate based on gender preference whatsoever. But there’s a line where it becomes too real. The only manner of hatred we have in the game is between incompatible Sims, something that’s driven by the traits of the Sim—a hotheaded Sim, or a Sim who hates children.“

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About the author

Jovan Jovic

Founder of the Sims Community website. I've been a Sims player for over 10 years and counting! My free time is usually spent in writing articles, graphic design and activism.

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  • Alta Bledsoe

    Why would you even put Racism in a Sims game…just the name Racism on this page is an insult and now I am not sure I would ever buy Sims4..my kids and grandkids are mixed

    • DarkAuthor13

      Did you even read the article? XD It would be offensive to have racism in The Sim 4; that’s why there isn’t any.

  • hpfandmtherapy

    What annoys me is the comparison between the “Hates Children” trait and child abuse and neglect. People don’t abuse children because they necessarily hate them. More often it is rooted in selfishness on the part of the adult and a lack of empathy. Just because someone dislikes children does not necessitate that they will abuse them.

  • Love The sim 4.
    I play this game with girlfriend