Sims 4 studio seeks to avoid "disrespectful" representations of real-life tragedies

Electronic Arts has made a lot of noise about the power of emotion in The Sims 4 . In fact, Senior Producer Lyndsay Pearson said on Twitter in June that there will be "multiple types of emotion deaths" in the game. But while your Sims might die laughing, they won't be able to die of depression, because Maxis wants to keep the game lighthearted and fun.

It's not likely you know anyone who laughed himself to death, or who got so angry about something that his head literally exploded. But you may well know someone who suffers from depression, or worse, who took his or her own life because of it. Depression is real, and it's not funny, and that's why Maxis won't use it as a gameplay mechanic.

"Something that wasn't appropriate for The Sims 4 would be to do death by depression," Associate Producer Graham Nardone told Polygon . "That's not an area that we're interested in taking the game. As much as it's a life simulation, it's a light-hearted, fun take on life. We try to keep that in mind when we're deciding what features go into the game."

That's also why natural disasters like floods and tornadoes aren't part of the action: Because players may well have experienced those horrors in real life and likely have no desire to relive them in a videogame. Nardone said Maxis is "always going to lean on the side of humor," noting that the death of a Sim is followed by the arrival of the Grim Reaper itself, who may well do something goofy before or after collecting the soul of the departed, like watching television or changing a baby's diaper.

In a similar vein, Maxis hasn't included characters with non-binary gender identities in the game because it doesn't want to "trivialize somebody's life by making it a gameplay feature," Nardone said. "You have to have the right respect for people and who they are, and I think that's one of the most core things that's important about The Sims — being respectful about people's lives."

That doesn't mean it won't happen at some point: Nardone said it's something Maxis is continuing to discuss both internally and with the community.

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.