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.”