The Sims, the life simulation video game where players create characters that interact with others, is finally adding sexual orientations to the game, including the ability to make characters asexual and aromantic.
Until now, all characters in The Sims basically started out as potentially bisexual. Players could flirt and engage in romantic interactions with other characters of the same sex in order to woo them. If a player flirted with enough same-sex characters, they’d eventually stop romantically reacting to the flirtations of differently-sexed characters.
However, the game’s developer Maxis announced that the release of the new Sims 4 High School expansion pack (set to drop on July 28) will allow all players to give their sims a sexual orientation, even if they don’t purchase the expansion pack. Characters will be able to be customized to only be romantically or sexually interested in same-sex partners or to be completely disinterested in sex and romance altogether, making them ace or aro.
Maxis said it collaborated with GLAAD and It Gets Better to capture the “widest possible range of viewpoints on how to approach this feature in a manner that respects and elevates the community.”
“As a team, we hold creativity, discovery, inclusivity and play as core values and strive every day to celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion for our people and community,” the developer said in a statement via the Electronic Arts (EA) website. EA is the game’s publisher.
It’s actually surprising that the game didn’t already include these features before now, seeing as it’s one of the most LGBTQ-inclusive video games ever. Previous installments of the game placed a lesbian couple on its cover art and featured gender-neutral bathrooms and Pride gear. The game got so queer that it was even banned in Russia for violating the country’s law against same-sex relationship “propaganda.”
But while the game also allows players to assign pronouns and neo-pronouns to their characters, it doesn’t quite have transgender or non-binary characters entirely figured out. Currently, players are forced to choose either a male or female binary gender when they start creating their characters.
However, the game’s developers said they hope to improve the representation of gender identities with more gender customization features in a future installment. The game’s current customization options allow people to change the body frame, voice depth, walking style, clothing preferences, pregnancy, and toilet use options to make genderqueer characters.