EA says LGBTQIA+ identities 'are a fact of life, not a toggle to be switched on and off' in The Sims

The Sims 4
(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

Electronic Arts says that it will not add a toggle to The Sims 4 that will let players disable a new, incoming feature that will allow them to select the sexual orientation of their Sims through three prompts. 

Currently, who your Sim is attracted to can shift with gameplay and they will "WooHoo," to use the Sims vernacular, with any gender. But an update coming later this month will give players the ability to set various options including whether their Sim is attracted to men, women, both, or neither.

(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

As shown in recent character customization screenshots, players will be able to select from a number of new options for their Sim:

This Sim is romantically attracted to: 



This Sim is exploring romantically:



This Sim is interested in Mess Around with:



(The first and final options on this list are represented as checkboxes that allow you to choose both or none of the choices, while the "exploring romantically" prompt is an either-or radio button.)

(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

Unfortunately but oh-so-predictably, a handful of players responded to the announcement by asking for the option to turn the system off. EA, to its credit, said no—although players can keep things as they are now by simply not changing any of the options.

"If you change none of the settings, your Sim will romantically behave as they currently do," The Sims Twitter account said in reply to one user who asked for the ability to turn the system off. "They'll have no inherent attraction to a gender, attraction can shift through gameplay, and they will WooHoo with any gender—the currently default state for Sims."

A separate sexual orientation FAQ says the same thing: Sexual orientation can be changed at any time, and if you don't touch any of the settings your Sims will continue to function as they always have. "This is still the default state for a new Sim." But as far as the ability to disable the system completely, it's a hard "no."

"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," design lead Jessica Croft wrote.

It's more a matter or principle than practicality, then—if you do nothing, nothing changes, which makes the whole basis for the request to disable the system frankly baffling—but it is a principle EA has stood up for in The Sims previously. Earlier this year it refused to remove same-sex relationships from the My Wedding Stories expansion in order to accommodate Russian law; it eventually decided to release the expansion in Russia "unaltered and unchanged," with an Adults Only rating.

EA's sexual orientation FAQ also touches on why, despite the implementation of the new orientation system, there are still only two gender options—and that, understandably, is a matter of practicality.

"The Sims 4 is eight years old at this point, and reliant on systems that were originally architected with a gender binary in mind," Croft explained. "In the intervening years, we’ve taken important steps such as Gender Customization, Pronouns and now Sexual Orientation. It’s a journey still in progress, with many more steps to go. Proper mechanical systems to fully support non binary Sims is another step in that journey."

The next Sims 4 update is set to go live on July 28 alongside the new High School Years expansion pack, and will be free for all players.


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Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.