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The mix-up that brought same-sex relationships to The Sims

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Same-sex relationships in Maxis and Electronic Arts' life simulator game, The Sims, were originally cut from the game and re-added accidentally due to work from an old design document, according to The New Yorker.

Speaking with the publication, programmer Patrick J. Barrett III said that shortly after he came onboard, he was given an old design document to work on for implementing social interactions between sims — one that still included gay relationships. When the game demoed at E3 in 1999, two female Sims were seen smooching during the live simulation, and the company ultimately decided to keep the feature.

To control how sims would fall in love with each other, Barrett created a system that would determine their sexuality, whether heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual, through the user's actions, rather than simple factors like proximity.

"Certain social interactions were tagged as romantic," Barrett said. "The game kept track of whether these were performed by same-sex or opposite-sex Sims. The formula was a little more complicated, but, over time, as a Sim developed a relationship, his or her preference was set."

Barrett said that once the team saw the system working, the topic wasn't brought up again.

"EA was more worried that The Sims would flop and hurt the SimCity franchise," Barrett said. "It was also a different time; people weren't so violently for or against same-sex relationships. They didn't go out of the way to find it and react to it. The right-wing press didn't have the platform they have today to scream. There was no Twitter, no Facebook, no blogs. I kinda hoped people would come at night with pitchforks and torches. But it never happened."

EA has since been praised for its use of same-sex relationships in The Sims, most recently in regards to Nintendo's Tomodachi Life. After Nintendo announced it would not include same-sex relationships in its strange life simulator, LGBT advocacy group GLAAD pointed to The Sims' long-running history of gay characters.

The next entry in The Sims franchise, The Sims 4launches Sept. 2.