Sims Dev: "Nobody" Questioned Inclusion of Same-Sex Relationships

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Sims Dev: "Nobody" Questioned Inclusion of Same-Sex Relationships

The inclusion of same-sex "woo-hooing" in The Sims wasn't much of an issue during the game's development.

When you get down to it, The Sims has always been about two things: selling expensive expansion packs and giving players choices. Generally, the series has done a good job with the latter, presenting players with a playground in which to create their own characters and guide them through life's mixture of drama and drudgery as they see fit. In a lot of other series however, the "as they see fit" portion of the game can still carry some caveats, especially in the realm of sexual preference. Even today, the idea of incorporating same-sex relationships in a game is one that can lead to controversy. That said, the decision to include same-sex "woo-hooing" (aka: sex) in The Sims was almost nonchalant.

"He just did it," said David "Rex" Graham, lead AI programmer for The Sims 4, speaking at a panel on LGBT-inclusive gaming. "[Lead Engineer Jamie Doornboos] just went in there and it was a thing one day." If you were to assume the introduction of homosexuality by Doornboos, an openly gay man, led to internal conflict at Maxis, or the game's publisher, Electronic Arts, you'd be wrong. "Nobody really questioned it, which was cool." The lack of controversy is something that Graham attributes in part to the nature of The Sims itself. "Homosexuality isn't new, it's something that exists in our world and we're trying to simulate people in our world." The optional nature of the same-sex choices may have also made it easier to "sneak" into the game. "[EA wanted] sales from everybody," said Graham. "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."

Source: Joystiq

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Is "woo-hooing" a term specific to The Sims, or am I falling behind on my modern slang?

Zhukov:
Is "woo-hooing" a term specific to The Sims, or am I falling behind on my modern slang?

It is their PG term for sex.

OT: I agree, nobody questioned it because of what it is. Life. And life has homosexuality.

If it didn't have gay relationships people would question it more than if it did.

Fascinating how a game community that does not consist mainly of teenage boys can be so mature about homosexuality.
They're too busy being forced into homosexuality in Mass Effect 3 or something.

And we seem to live in a time where no homophobic backlash is worthy of a headline, geez.

StewShearer:
"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."

Or like me in the first game when I had two Sims of the same sex in the hot-tub and accidentally clicked on the option to kiss. I expected the other one to say they weren't interested but I was wrong. I was more surprised than anything else, because I hadn't done anything to try and pair them up in the first place. Apparently they must have just had hidden homosexual interests.

Piorn:
Fascinating how a game community that does not consist mainly of teenage boys can be so mature about homosexuality.
They're too busy being forced into homosexuality in Mass Effect 3 or something.

And we seem to live in a time where no homophobic backlash is worthy of a headline, geez.

I think it also has to do with the fact that that it is just sort of there instead of devs making a huge deal about the fact that you can boink same sex couples.

I figure no one spoke up because it was someone pretty high up on the totem pole that put it in there. Internal lay offs and department mergers/streamlining are a bitch, aint they?

It's weird to think when you have homosexual relationships in a simulated reality then it's perfectly fine but introduce it into someone's favourite fictional world then there might be problems.

StewShearer:
People wouldn't even find it unless they looked for it.

To be fair, that hasn't stopped people complaining about it before.

Both in real life, frankly, and in other games.

Still, good on the development team for getting it in the game without a fuss.

I'm now wondering, is it only a big deal on certain games because the creators of said games felt the need to announce the inclusion of same sex relationships?

I mean, it shouldn't need to be announced any more than heterosexual relationships are.

Zhukov:
Is "woo-hooing" a term specific to The Sims, or am I falling behind on my modern slang?

It's in fact the given term for it since Sims 2.

Still, I am surprised that people still make it some kind of big deal... as said in the news, it was "just there" in Sims since Sims 2 (in fact, with the right programs, one could see the preference a sim had for the genders. Default was a slight favor of the opposite one)

Desert Punk:

Piorn:
Fascinating how a game community that does not consist mainly of teenage boys can be so mature about homosexuality.
They're too busy being forced into homosexuality in Mass Effect 3 or something.

And we seem to live in a time where no homophobic backlash is worthy of a headline, geez.

I think it also has to do with the fact that that it is just sort of there instead of devs making a huge deal about the fact that you can boink same sex couples.

And it doesn't hurt that the animation for woo-hooing doesn't actually show anything even when you glitch away the covers


It's too hilarious to take seriously

the sims franchise has sold upwards of 46 million copies, been around for close to 14 years and i havent actually heard anyone actually make an issue out of the fact you could have same sex relationships in it

wombat_of_war:
the sims franchise has sold upwards of 46 million copies, been around for close to 14 years and i havent actually heard anyone actually make an issue out of the fact you could have same sex relationships in it

Well, if EA is to be believed, all the people that voted them Worst Company in America two years in a row all had a problem with it. :P

I think there was no controversy about it because nobody made a big deal about it. When someone says "Our game will have deep, in-depth relationships, including at least one homosexual relationship" people will start flipping. If you put multiple clues that such a path can be taken in the dialogue people will pick up on it quickly and throw a fit. If you provide no clues to it happening and say nothing about it and people have to look for it or accidentally stumble upon it, nothing's gonna happen.

The only people who would even know that Homosexual Woohooing was a thing is the sims are people who were LOOKING for it. As opposed to, say, Mass Effect or Dragon's Age where simply being nice can lead towards "You're so nice I love you now, do you love me?".

wombat_of_war:
the sims franchise has sold upwards of 46 million copies, been around for close to 14 years and i havent actually heard anyone actually make an issue out of the fact you could have same sex relationships in it

I've seen one ultra-Christian site complaining about it as part of a "presenting homosexual relationships as normal behaviour in products aimed at children" rant. One. Just one.

The thought that The Sims has always included same-gender relationships and (practically) no one has ever commented on it has always made me feel a little bit better about humanity.

On a related note, I've been secretly hoping for them to add a Kinsey scale slider to the Sim Creator since personality attributes were added. I suspect that might be a step too far for EA, but I can dream.

Nobody? Well hell, maybe someone should then. I'm just off to find my pitchfork and an angry torch wielding mob. Or not.

Fine. Good for them, don't honestly really care. Same sex stuff has been a part of the game for the entire series, with more adult "hardcore" content being added on by third party modders. Adding same sex woo hooing seems a pretty tame step in comparison. My only worries about the game is will Maxis try the same "always on" garbage that ruined SimCity 5 for so many fans. Wish they'd talk about that.

Ok... But.. Where's the option to play a trans sim? With all the pills and surgeries and genetic lotteries and interaction difficulties that go with it?

...Maybe in Sims 4? *Hopeful*

omicron1:
Ok... But.. Where's the option to play a trans sim? With all the pills and surgeries and genetic lotteries and interaction difficulties that go with it?

...Maybe in Sims 4? *Hopeful*

Isn't that the player creation menu?

OT: Sims, you just went up a notch in my book... you on notch one.

Legion:

StewShearer:
"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."

Or like me in the first game when I had two Sims of the same sex in the hot-tub and accidentally clicked on the option to kiss. I expected the other one to say they weren't interested but I was wrong. I was more surprised than anything else, because I hadn't done anything to try and pair them up in the first place. Apparently they must have just had hidden homosexual interests.

Though really you dont have to have homosexual interests to kiss another dude, as drunken attention-whore party sluts across the world will prove night in and night out

EDIT: Also, it should be noted that there is no homosexuality in The Sims. What the Sims has is gender fluidity; gender just doesn't matter to the sims, which I've always liked for being an accurate depiction of human beings.

So the way to make 'progress' in same sex relationships in games is to...NOT make a big deal about it?

Wow. I had no idea.

I wish you could choose sexual orientation in the sims. Its kinda frustrating when a sim based on yourself goes and hooks up with a sim based on your best friend when you aren't looking...

But yeah, good for EA/MAXIS (Does maxis still make the Sims games? or just SimCity)

Caiphus:

StewShearer:
People wouldn't even find it unless they looked for it.

To be fair, that hasn't stopped people complaining about it before.

Both in real life, frankly, and in other games.

Still, good on the development team for getting it in the game without a fuss.

Agreed with that. Remember the whole Hot Coffee fiasco in GTA: SA? You could only access it if you used A THIRD PARTY MODIFICATION OF THE GAME'S CODE but it still caused a shitstorm.

I'm honestly surprised that this Sims business never earned the scorn of Fox News or CNN.

eljawa:
I wish you could choose sexual orientation in the sims. Its kinda frustrating when a sim based on yourself goes and hooks up with a sim based on your best friend when you aren't looking...

But yeah, good for EA/MAXIS (Does maxis still make the Sims games? or just SimCity)

I recently updated my sims 3 game, and now in the opening menu their is a thing showing the Maxis logo.
I heard they were signed on to do the sims 4.

I remember a while back someone asked a question about why certain games attracted ire for having the option to pursue homosexual relationships and why others that had the same feature barely got any controversy, so I'll post my answer from there: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/9.399700-Why-was-there-no-uproar-about-same-sex-relations-in-Skyrim-or-the-Fable-series#16403957

The basic conceit comes down to three particular aspects: the first is how pronounced the feature is in the marketing for the game. Games such as Skyrim or Fable mostly focused on the none-relationship aspects, and the few times it did it was more to show that a relationship feature was in place, they didn't really make a big deal or production over the fact you could have same-sex relationships, while things such as Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 3 made such a big deal about it, implying that it was more of an integral and necessary feature rather than just something that's there as an option. The Sims has always seemed to go down this path, in which I've never seen a Sims game make a big deal out of having Sims of the same-sex pursue each other (when I say big deal, I mean the marketing didn't call attention to that one fact as if it were a new mechanic players were expected to employ)

The second aspect was that in most other games with relationship options, those relationships usually amounted to nothing. Fable and Skyrim's relationships were more for window dressing than anything else, and if it was one of those few times it resulted in being given something, it becomes easier to identify that relationship as one out of the necessity of an item rather than a reflection of the player's personality. It goes without saying that the relationships in the BioWare games were made more important due to their emotional resonance both with the character and the player, and as such are more reflective of the player's personality as opposed to RANDOM_NAMED_NPC_#4967. It only really becomes an aspect of it's own if the player feels they aren't using every aspect of the game as much as they can, and if that includes pursuing each relationship, sooner or later the same-sex ones are going to crop up, and may make it more of an issue for the players that get uppity about that. The Sims, meanwhile, seems so divorced from the concept of anything particularly special or significant. Sure you can create yourself, but from what I've seen, people treat The Sims less as placing themselves in the world and more acting as a god controlling the actions and environment of the world below them; I'm sure in this instance it really doesn't matter if a same-sex option is a thing.

There's a third aspect, however as someone posted, The Sims may actually fall into the more controversial side of this one, depending on your outlook. This aspect is on how easy it is to fall into same-sex relationships without intending to do so. Skyrim and Fable's romance systems don't really allow for accidental clicks, so if you ended up in a relationship with someone, it's usually because that was your intent; therefore the chances of you falling into a relationship you don't want is pretty much null. In BioWare games it can be considered easier because generally speaking, simply acting nice may convey romantic interests, even if all you were doing was trying to be friendly; it can seem more jarring for a player if it seems to come out of nowhere, and as such may think the game is trying to tell them something about their personality that has less to do with the player's actual personality and more to do with the game's dialogue system. Now, based on what someone said, The Sims may fall into this category, in so much as it's possible to miss-click and have Sims enter a same-sex relationship, but as we discussed in aspect 2, the fact these relationships barely matter and are less a representation of the player than the toys a player simply has around, it probably amounts to very little in terms of controversy, especially since, if nothing else, it can be just as easy to not continue that relationship if you really care, if not just create new characters.

Roofstone:
[quote="Zhukov" post="7.824404.19977971"]

OT: I agree, nobody questioned it because of what it is. Life. And life has homosexuality.

But life also has homophobes and tantrums about treating homosexuals like they're regular, natural, normal, or whatever the buzzword they choose is.

When I first discovered you could have homosexual relationships in The Sims, I was surprised for a moment, but only in that it was a feature, but also that it's so bloody seamless.

There's no difference, especially in Sims 2, between building a hetero and homosexual relationship. You talk, flirt, get intimate, and boom. There's literally no difference, and that's why I think nobody's questioned it or really made that big a deal outside the studio - it's just *there*, as a natural part of life.

I can totally see this being debate-worth in other games, but there's one thing to keep in mind here: The Sims is a sandbox game, whose primary purpose is to let you do anything you want. Nobody saw a problem with the inclusion of a criminal career track. Why? Because The Sims doesn't allow or disallow things for the sake of moral or political statements. Whether or not you support gay marriage, it's ridiculous to have a problem with a sandbox game giving freedom. It's the nature of the genre.

P.S. Thanks

P.P.S. And before someone misunderstands me, my use of the criminal career track as an example is not intended to compare gay sex with burglary, but to convey that the game actively doesn't even care, and leaves it up to the player to decide what they think is right and wrong for their sims.

Zachary Amaranth:

Roofstone:

OT: I agree, nobody questioned it because of what it is. Life. And life has homosexuality.

But life also has homophobes and tantrums about treating homosexuals like they're regular, natural, normal, or whatever the buzzword they choose is.

True, but I don't think it'd be fun if half of the town decided to throw stones at you in the street because you kissed another male.

It'd certainly be interesting if sims could be prejudiced, but.. Not very fun, I think.

Roofstone:

True, but I don't think it'd be fun if half of the town decided to throw stones at you in the street because you kissed another male.

It'd certainly be interesting if sims could be prejudiced, but.. Not very fun, I think.

I'm just saying that backlash-free homosexuality is kind of unusual because of the other things that are a part of life.

A lot of people just plain suck.

Wait you mean homosexual relationships weren't already in the Sims games? I always assumed they were. Huh...

Irridium:
Wait you mean homosexual relationships weren't already in the Sims games? I always assumed they were. Huh...

They were. He's just saying no one ever gave a shit or even bothered discussing it whenever they did it. It was just something they added and everyone at the company was on board.

The only reason it's being brought up now, is likely because EA wants some good PR. They always fall back on the 'we support the LGBT community' flag waving.

Like when Mass Effect 3 came out and everyone was mad about the game. So EA was like 'we wont back down on our inclusion of homosexual romances and you can just deal with that.' And the 5% of their player base who cared about that was like raghhhhhh, and the other 95% went 'wait what? that isn't why we are mad about this game...'

The whole reason attention is brought on relationships in games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age, is because it has pretty much become a major optional feature that the fans drool over in Bioware games. Fans spend months, even before characters are fully announced for the game, who is going to be romancable and what previous character they should bring back and make a romance option. I know about ten people that are absolutely certain Cullen for Dragon Age 3 is a romance and nobody is 100% sure he is even going to be really a party member or temp or something.

It's not really the developer's fault for deciding to bring attention to it and show the options that are available. The fans overwhelming demand it so they can start planning out who they're going to pine for, they try to hack into Bioware's computers for leaks to find out who will be available, people put out false information to troll each other.

I remember when they announced Dragon Age 2 options and people went crazy. Both negative and positive reactions. It's like waiting to see who is drafted to a football team.

Yeah, there's a lot of controversy around it, but it doesn't mean no one is happy to hear about it. I know people who were absolutely thrilled that after three games, they were finally allowed to romance Kaidan with a male Shepard. And that information just came out as a leak from when that guy hacked the demo. Many were disappointed that Vega was not available for either male or female Shepard at all. But clearly from the Citadel DLC, the combination of his homophobic behavior and female Shepard having to get him drunk in order to sleep with him, some writer at Bioware wants to make sure everyone knows their baby is off limits to the romance obsessed fan base.

MinionJoe:

wombat_of_war:
the sims franchise has sold upwards of 46 million copies, been around for close to 14 years and i havent actually heard anyone actually make an issue out of the fact you could have same sex relationships in it

Well, if EA is to be believed, all the people that voted them Worst Company in America two years in a row all had a problem with it. :P

Well it certainly wasn't for their values about same-sex relations.

Which is, I suppose, a good thing.

And yeah this is ...pretty much the aspiration of every game with an option to allow homosexual themes. It should be this way. Painless, without controversy or media alert. And an option alongside their heterosexual option without any questions asked.

I do see Value in the Sims. I don't like the series at all, in fact it's something my sister and her gaggling school friends were into and then un-ironically referred to themselves as gamers for a little while. I kinda loudly snorted from the other room where I was busy raiding on WoW over five or six years back.

Buuut if I allow the casuals into my scope of gamer-okays, this should too. And The Sims, while a very odd and unenjoyable concept to me and many others, it's one of those things that could pave the way for more engaging experiences. If the sims can pull all their mundane social mini management concept into a more interesting setting and work it in alongside more weighty material, who knows what could be accomplished. Evolve it beyond what it is right now.

And unquestioningly including homosexual relationships into their 'life simulator' is a good first step. Wanna create a life simulator? You gotta include everything that goes into life. This genre is practically boundless so instead of creating shitty expansion packs for it, I'd like if they went bigger.

Anyone else like how it was actually kinda nice to see a developer putting this in without so much fuss or controversy or even any media attention put in it?

It was just "Hey, this is a thing now." and everyone was cool with it. imo, that just shows the maturity of everyone involved.

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