The Sims 4 is making it easier for players to create Sims that better reflect their lived experiences. As a free update coming at the end of the month along with the High School Years expansion, players can now choose their Sims’ sexual orientation and romantic / sexual attraction.
It works like this: within the “Create a Sim” function, you’ll be able to fiddle with how your Sim experiences sex and romance. First, you can choose if your character is attracted to men or women. The Sims 4 team is aware that making this choice based on binary options isn’t ideal.
“I understand that there will be concerns here around the initial options being gender binary,” SimGuruJessica, the design lead on the High School Years expansion wrote in the developer diary. “Mechanically, non binary Sims don’t yet exist in TS4. While we made great progress in representing non binary Sims with the pronouns update, we acknowledge that pronouns are not the same thing as gender identities.”
In addition to choosing if your Sim is attracted to men or women, you can also choose how they display that attraction either via romance and / or sex as well as if that attraction can change.
With the “exploring romantically” setting, you can lock down if your Sim is only attracted to one gender of if they’re essentially still figuring it out, allowing them to potentially shift attraction from one gender to another.
Finally, the WooHoo setting establishes which gender a Sim is interested in... WooHoo-ing with. (Good grief, I get it, but WooHoo? Y’all couldn’t come up with something less embarrassing than WooHoo?) The WooHoo setting, in combination with the exploring romantically setting, allows players to create aromantic or asexual Sims. Checking nothing at all or leaving the exploring romantically option unchecked while checking a box in the WooHoo setting, or vice versa, results in Sims who are interested in complete asexuality, sex without romance, or romance without sex.
Even with all this new wealth of ways to customize your Sims, you can also opt to just leave everything alone to allow the Sim to behave the way they did prior to this new patch.
“If you change none of the Sexual Orientation settings, your Sim will romantically behave as they currently do prior to the release of this feature,” SimGuruJessica wrote. “They have no inherent attraction to a specific gender, they can have their attraction shift through gameplay, and they will WooHoo with any gender.”
However, it’s critical — and a bit heartening — to note that this new sexual orientation feature cannot be turned off, and SimGuruJessica explained that decision with some pretty definitive and affirming language.
“While we try to give players the option to toggle certain gameplay features, LGBTQIA+ identities are a fact of life and not a toggle to be switched on and off.”
The Sims 4 team seems to be taking a more firm stance in regard to its LGBTQ-plus players right out the gate. Back in February, EA announced it would not sell its My Wedding Stories expansion pack — which centers a lesbian couple in promo videos and marketing materials — in Russia over concerns about the country’s anti-gay propaganda law. After an outcry from fans, EA reversed its decision, selling the pack in Russia unaltered.
Sexual orientation can’t fully be captured with a bunch of sliders and options, and it seems like The Sims 4 team knows that and is dedicated to doing the best it can with what it has.
“It is important to acknowledge that these are steps in a journey that we are still mapping out,” SimGuruJessica wrote. “There is much further to go, and while I can’t get into the details of where exactly we go next, please know that we are committed to continuing to improve our representation of the LGBTQIA+ community.”
The sexual orientation update will be added to The Sims 4 later this month, and the High School Years expansion pack launches on July 28th.