How same-sex relationships came to The Sims

Lead AI programmer reveals how EA's low expectations for The Sims allowed same-sex relationships to be implemented.

EA Maxis has shed light on how same-sex relationships came to be in best-selling game series The Sims, Joystiq has reported.

Speaking on Electronic Arts' (EA) GaymerX panel about creating more LGBT-inclusive experiences, The Sims 4 lead AI programmer David "Rez" Graham revealed how lead engineer Jamie Doornbos implemented the programming.

"He just did it," Graham said, referring to Doornbos, who is an openly gay man. "He just went in there and it was a thing one day. Nobody really questioned it, which was cool."

After the conclusion of the panel, Graham revealed that the nature of The Sims as a game allowed EA Maxis to "sneak in" the feature as an optional one.

"I think it was just that homosexuality isn't new, it's something that exists in our world and we're trying to simulate people in our world. And so I think that what they wanted to do, and this is going to sound terrible, but what they wanted to do was protect the people who are basically bigoted against that kind of thing, because they want sales from everybody. So, to make it an optional thing that's essentially disabled unless you seek it out as the player, that I think gave EA the sort of permission to say that's fine. People wouldn't even find it unless they looked for it."

According to Graham, it was because of EA's view that the game was "a terrible idea" and would not sell well that allowed them to implement "all that kind of stuff."

"[Doornbos] had more permission because it was seen as a kind of casual type game, so it would've been harder to have that happen in a huge AAA game."

The Sims has been touted as the best-selling game franchise of all time, with over 125 million copies sold worldwide since its launch in 2000. The latest numbered entry into the series, The Sims 3 for PC, sold 3.7 million copies in its first month of sale.

A sequel, The Sims 4, was announced earlier this year. The game will be launching in 2014 for PC and Mac, and will not require an internet connection.

Written By

Zorine “harli” Te is a long time Australian competitive gamer and also an Associate Editor at GameSpot.

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Discussion

153 comments
nadavkra
nadavkra

DON'T LET WESTBORO BAPTIST CHURCH KNOW ABOUT THIS

OtakuLiz
OtakuLiz

I still remember my dad telling a girl sim to flirt with another girl sim in the very first game because he wondered what would happen. I also remember how shocked he was that they developed crushes on each other from it. And now that we're all the way up to TS3 and my neighborhoods are like 50% gay, he's still surprised? XD

AndrewII
AndrewII

now only if they would allow polygamy then things would be much better....

MasterOfSprites
MasterOfSprites

Wait, I thought you could always have same sex relationships in the sims.

ShadowsDemon
ShadowsDemon

It really doesn't matter to me what they put in their game as long as it's optional. I'm fine with it. I really don't care.

hadlee73
hadlee73

"EA's view that the game was "a terrible idea"..." On paper it doesn't actually look all that engaging. Its just one of those strangely addicting games. Although the humour probably helped alot.

Hurvl
Hurvl

"People wouldn't even find it unless they looked for it."Lol, now that's brilliant right there! Those anti-everything-else-except-heterosexuality wouldn't dream of seraching for it, becaus they'd get suspicious remarks from other people if they did. Nowadays, though, there are always people looking through games, trying to reveal something and get 15 minutes of fame.

OpalDragon
OpalDragon

I'm sure there are people that will be calling for 'God's Wraith' on EA for this.  But like 'Hot Coffee', if you weren't looking for it, how did you find it?  And kids, they're more matter-of-fact now days, they wouldn't think it's a big deal, or they would think it's silly.

granola_goodnes
granola_goodnes

I have never thought of EA as the type of people who would care about same sex relations in their games.  I mean almost every bioware game has them.  

Verenti
Verenti

This is an interesting condemnation of AAA politics. If they had thought it would be successful, they might have taken issue with allowing people to take a deliberate choice to create homosexual characters. God forbid we represent approximately 3.5% of the global population.

I think this is another example that control in a creative industry only serves to slow down the advancement of said industry. This is why we should pay less attention to the people in suits with money and what they think is good or appropriate for us as the consumer. They don't know what's best, only what they think will sell best. We need to liberalise this industry and democratise our relationship to the developers!

namitokiwa
namitokiwa

I buy this game because it can buid house, characters, so much mods like worlds, houses, hairs, face, etc. After a lot of shootings, dramatic games with so much heavy atmosphere. I am glad there is the sims series to play, at least I can enjoy and relax with it without bullets in my face. Playing around your sims from a child to the old. It feels so peaceful, building your own imaginary house, interact with everyone, or almost anything. That's very nice.

SoreThumbsBill
SoreThumbsBill

I never understood the appeal of this game. 125 million people like playing doll house on their PC.

jrh1524
jrh1524

You people say I'm crazy when I accuse Gamespot of promoting sexual deviancy...

jedicommand7
jedicommand7

I swear gamespot keeps posting these "news stories" just to get people to come post that these "stories aren't news.

CptYoutube
CptYoutube

It makes sense for them to implement it but this really isn't news. They just threw this out there to get people's attention. 

Mega_Loser
Mega_Loser

thanks to the mods that delete my messages that carry the Word of our Lord.

chyng85
chyng85

This is interesting~! 

BelaidKL
BelaidKL

"According to Graham, it was because of EA's view that the game was "a terrible idea" and would not sell well"..........

Was I the only one to laugh at this part?????

AshTrai
AshTrai

I've always wondered; who the hell is buying these sims games? I do not know a single person that's played it ...

Nathan_R_Rork
Nathan_R_Rork

@AndrewII Yeah, no kidding. It's one thing when you're dating someone outside the household. But if they're under your roof and you can control them, it should be up to YOU how they react.

Same as when they'd ground my kids. I do believe that should be MY decision.

OtakuLiz
OtakuLiz

@hadlee73 Every time I try to get someone to try it out, I attempt to explain the game, and start deflating more and more the further I get because I realize that it sounds boring and stupid when you're just describing it. So that does kind of make sense. I don't know how they make it so fun.

Hurvl
Hurvl

@OpalDragon God's Wraith? now thats sounds really epic, really awesome. When the Holy Ghost isn't enough, then God's Wraith will smite the wicked. Forget all that "release the Kraken" stuff, God's Wraith is the real deal!

OtakuLiz
OtakuLiz

@granola_goodnes Maybe it's because the first Sims game came out in  2000? Maybe it was just my age, but I don't remember gay rights being nearly so mainstream and accepted a thing back then. I think they had much more reason to be paranoid about backlash even just ten years ago than they do now.

Hurvl
Hurvl

@SoreThumbsBill A dollhouse is more expensive and takes up more space than the Sims, so I can see why people like playing dollhouse on their PC.

Verenti
Verenti

@SoreThumbsBill What is any game but indulging fantasy? What is a first person shooter but running around with sticks playing soldier?

 It is an industry based on unreality. I see no reason to condemn one game for this over another.

Kickable
Kickable

@jrh1524 you're still a nut who grasps at straws based on your other comments.  I think this is a shit example for your paranoid argument anyway, this would be more newsworthy than the Gaymer convention IMO.  This could say people like you work at EA.  Spoiler alert, that would not be flattering.

TBear7130
TBear7130

@jrh1524 Agree, only things inside the bell curve of normality should EVER be discussed.

All behavior deviant from the normal distribution is "bad"...

Sorry for my lazy trolling today.

frozenux
frozenux

@jrh1524  sexual deviancy...that's kind of a broad statement...

banana23man
banana23man

@CptYoutube It is news if you live in a place where positive portrayal of homosexuals is banned and gays can be jailed if found engaging in homosexual acts. In a perfect world, this wouldn't be news, but we live in a world where being different can mean prosecution or even death. 

chibi_yosho
chibi_yosho

@CptYoutube This. I'm sick to death of people forcing ideals upon us. I'm completely pro-equality and all that but don't want it shoved down my proverbial throat every minute. I just want to enjoy my video games!

RedLegZeff
RedLegZeff

@BelaidKL I think that's EA's key to success. Do the opposite of what you think is right EA, it's probably the best choice.

OtakuLiz
OtakuLiz

@AshTrai In my experience, the people buying the Sims are (sometimes parents of) girls between ten and twenty, or girls who were that age when they got into the franchise. Then their siblings and sometimes parents try out the game, and, if male, usually deny that they like it, while playing at least as much as the girl in question. I feel like The Sims spreads now because Simmers convert other people into Simmers, rather than because all that many people just randomly decide to pick it up.

pal_080
pal_080

@AshTrai  I bought the first one!  I really don't know who's buying all these expansions though, there are like dozens of them for each Sims game...

DJKrayz_basic
DJKrayz_basic

@AshTrai  i dont buy the expansions, but i bought Sims 2 and 3... dont really play it much, but i did buy them..

Kickable
Kickable

@TBear7130 oh darn, I'm sure your 2 cents would have been soooo riveting and fair.

CptYoutube
CptYoutube

@banana23man That is indeed true, but I would like to think that will change within the next 6 years or so (basically by 2020).

Hurvl
Hurvl

@chibi_yosho @CptYoutube Lmao, didn't you read the article? You'd never know it was there unless you looked for it. Now how is that force feeding? It sounds more like completionist OCD (wanting to do *everything* a game offers) struggling with your dislike of certain parts of the game.

banana23man
banana23man

@chibi_yosho @CptYoutube And by having this in video games or posting news about this is shoving ideas down your throat and preventing you from enjoying games? I was under the impression that "shoving ideas down your throat" is along the line of forcefeeding you dicks. 

Hurvl
Hurvl

@RedLegZeff @BelaidKL The George Costanza way to success, doing the opposite of what you usually do - that could actually work (outside the tv-series Seinfeld).