The Sims 4 Alliance Attempt Banned Many LGBTQ+ Players
On February 8, The Sims team unveiled a first look at the next romance addition to The Sims 4: My Marriage Stories. As the name suggests, the upcoming game pack is all about love, romance, and the celebration of both through marriage – with a particular focus on showcasing the stories too often overlooked by mainstream media; stories like Dom and Cam’s.
Dom and Cam are the names of two new female characters in The Sims 4 who discover that their feelings for each other are much stronger than friendship, a realization that comes shortly before one of the women never marry a man. After calling off the wedding, the two women reunite, creating a union that spans decades and overcomes all odds. Their touching story, accompanied by a simlish version of Etta James’ “At Last”, unfolds throughout the pack’s trailer, setting the tone for the latest add-on and acting as a show of solidarity for the many LGBTQ+ players in the game. However, just a day after the trailer was released, the Sims team announced that some Sims 4 players will not be able to participate in Dom and Cam’s marital bliss.
Le 9 février, une lettre ouverte a été partagée sur le blog officiel des Sims 4 indiquant qu’en raison des lois fédérales, Les Sims 4 : Mes histoires de mariage ne seront pas vendus en Russie. Dans la lettre, l’équipe Les Sims a expliqué son choix, déclarant qu’ils sont “déterminés à respecter cet engagement en mettant en lumière et en célébrant des histoires comme celles de Dom et Cam” et ont donc pris la décision de “renoncer à la sortie de My Wedding Stories où notre la narration serait sujette à des changements en raison des lois fédérales.”
L’équipe des Sims a poursuivi : “Malheureusement, cela signifie que les membres de la communauté Les Sims en Russie ne pourront pas acheter ce pack de jeu.”
Tout au long de la lettre, l’équipe des Sims a confirmé que la décision était un engagement envers “les valeurs qui nous inspirent”, telles que la liberté “d’être qui vous êtes, d’aimer qui vous aimez et de raconter les histoires que vous voulez raconter”. Peu de temps après la publication de l’article de blog, de nombreux joueurs – principalement ceux basés dans les pays occidentaux – se sont rendus sur Twitter pour louer la conviction de l’équipe, partageant des sentiments tels que “l’amour c’est l’amour” et exprimant leur gratitude envers le studio. À leur crédit, il n’est pas difficile de voir pourquoi cette décision semble louable : une entreprise qui choisit de défendre l’égalité des droits sur l’augmentation des ventes semble comme un geste courageux et désintéressé. Cependant, il s’avère que la situation est beaucoup plus compliquée que cela.
Alors que certains ont célébré le choix d’EA comme une victoire LGBTQ +, les joueurs des Sims en Russie se sont retrouvés confrontés à beaucoup de douleur, de confusion et de panique. Nushanchelun illustrateur basé à Moscou, en Russie, n’a pas tardé à exprimer sa frustration face au choix de l’équipe Les Sims, déclarant que la décision d’EA apparaît comme “cruel” et excluant la communauté LGBTQ+ russe.
“Nous avons une grande communauté LGBTQ+ qui souffre tellement sous le régime de Poutine et des lois homophobes qui sont de plus en plus dures chaque année”, a déclaré Nushanchel. “Ce dont nous avons vraiment besoin, c’est d’un peu de soutien et d’amour, parce que [Western] the content is what we consider an example of freedom and we want it too. When this content continues to exclude or demean us, it acts as our government. So where [does the] Is the Russian LGBTQ+ community okay?
When this content continues to exclude or demean us, it acts exactly like our government…where [does the] The Russian LGBTQ+ community goes there?
The question of the community was also on the mind of Oleg Kushakov. A community manager for a Russian Sims 4 Facebook group with nearly 68,000 followers, Kushakov said he quickly braced himself for the toxicity and backlash following the blog post.
“Managing a large community of Russian Sims on social media, my first thought when I saw the news was ‘Oh no, they’re going to blame the gay community for this, it’s going to get even worse,'” Kushakov said. “There’s already so much homophobia that you can see every time The Sims celebrates being queer. And that’s exactly what this decision does: you make homophobes even angrier at the LBGTQ+ community. They think, ‘First they ruined my favorite games with their gay stuff and now I can’t even play them.'”
Kushakov shares Nushanchel’s belief that the Sims team’s decision not to sell the game in Russia is exclusive. Kushakov then added that he thought the incident was also an example of a well-meaning but harmful alliance. According to Kushakov, the federal laws mentioned by the Sims team do not prevent The Sims from being sold in Russia, nor do they require EA to remove content from the game. This is how games with gay romances, including Stardew Valley and Miitopia can still be sold domestically. Instead, the laws instead prohibit LGBTQ+ content from being used in marketing, stating that use of such content could be considered “gay propaganda” directed at minors. Interestingly, however, Kuskakov also noted that in the Russian version of the blog post, The Sims team made no mention of federal laws.
As such, The Sims 4 – LGBTQ+ content and all – appears to be legal in Russia as long as the game is listed as 18+. Because of this, The Sims has empowered LGBTQ+ communities in Russia to live their authentic lives in a country that often makes it difficult. While Kushakov said the gay relationship seen in the trailer was great and progressive, he thinks the Sims team’s reluctance to change marketing in favor of Russian LGBTQ+ players’ access to the game is detrimental. and ultimately in line with Russia’s desire to keep LGBTQ+ content out of the country.
“There are movies, shows, books and games that tell queer stories – would the community want it all gone? No, they want those little elements of representation, they want to be able to see stories that they can relate to. identify and they want to do them too.” Kushakov explained. “It’s better to see a Disney movie without a few scenes with gay people added as a token than not to see it at all – and the lesbian couple that’s used for the promotional campaign is, while super awesome and progressive, essentially a tiny part of a game that’s going to be around for many more years, that tiny part can be changed for the sake of the long story.
It’s been a little over a day since the announcement of The Sims team, and since then the hashtag “#WeddingsForRussia” has become increasingly popular on Twitter. Much like Kushakov, those who use the hashtag do so to draw attention to how the decision. According to Kushakov, the hope is that The Sims team “learns who their allies are and what they want” rather than “to exclude those who are more affected than others” in the fight for equality.
Dear @The Sims
We Russian simmers feel deeply disappointed and betrayed by this whole situation with the game that we have loved and supported for many years. We respect The Sims team values, they are extremely important in modern progressive society. #weddingsforrussia
— SimsMix (@sims_mix) February 10, 2022
Okay, @The Sims I have a question. Where were your principles when you showed a gay couple getting married in the Russian trailer earlier?
The game is 18+ in Russia and NO law prohibits you from posting new content. You lie to improve your reputation.#weddingsforrussia pic.twitter.com/4u1cUYH1h4
— Кактак Аламировна (@AlamiraGames) February 10, 2022
“When you celebrate equality and your ‘values’, you are celebrating it with everyone except the most oppressed gay community that you have just left out of the narrative. You are fighting for something that excludes those who are more affected than others.”
GameSpot contacted The Sims 4 team for additional information regarding the decision, but the team declined to comment. Earlier today, The Sims team hosted a live event on YouTube and Twitch highlighting even more features available in The Sims 4: My Wedding Stories game pack. Chat for both streams was disabled approximately 30 minutes before the start of the showcase following a massive influx of “#WeddingsForRussia” shared in chat.