The Sims series

One femme looking person and three gender ambiguous people.
  • Developer: Maxis The Sims Studio
  • Publisher: Electronic Arts
  • Year: 2000 – 2016
  • Genre: Simulation
  • Platform/s: PC

The Sims series continues to improve in terms of diversity with each iteration. Same-gender relationships have been possible since the original Sims, with all characters seemingly plurisexual and open to relationships with either of the binary genders the game's character creator allows. In The Sims 2, sexuality becomes more fluid, with a preference for one gender over the other becoming part of each character's traits. This scale influences the way characters would form relationships when behaving autonomously. This gender preference scale is also present in The Sims 3. In both The Sims 3 and The Sims 4, characters in same-gender relationships are able to adopt children. In The Sims 4, partners in a same-gender relationship can marry, will refer to one another as 'husband' or 'wife' accordingly, and are considered 'co-parents' of any adopted children. In The Sims 3: Into the Future, same-gender couples are able to 'engineer' a baby who is genetically related to both parents and thus bears a family resemblance to them.

An announcement on 2nd June, 2016 by Maxis showed changes that have been made and implemented as part of a free update to The Sims 4, which affect how gender is approached during character creation. Though a binary gender still needs to be chosen, restrictions on clothes, movement, and voice based on this gender binary have been lifted. You can read more about this update on their website.

A number of respondents to the Queer Representation (2016) survey listed The Sims as featuring their favourite character creation and relationship systems, with one major criticism being the ongoing gender restrictions on clothing and styles. This update has a significant impact on improving what was the most highlighted problem with an otherwise excellent example of representation in the opinion of these respondents.

Elissa Harris shared the below in-game screenshots, showing how you can change the default 'female' character model to have a masculine build, as well as change a number of additional settings such as clothing preferences and biology. Clothing isn't locked by the preference you select, but simply automatically filtered. When discussing the process of creating a character using this new system, Elissa said, "Having changed her frame to be more masculine, she keeps her secondary sexual characteristics by default, and these can be changed on the fly. So in this case she (wonderfully realistically) gets broader shoulders, narrower hips and HEY! She looks kinda like me!"