The Sims 4 sexual orientation update took a while to arrive

I played The Sims franchised since The Sims 2 era — just long enough to attribute it to my own outing — and I’ve witnessed first-hand how he’s evolved his portrayal of LGBTQIA+ relationships and identities over the years. Games have always included same-sex romance, with each iteration building on the foundation of the last.

A brief look at the franchise’s LGBT inclusion history shows us that the incredible new The Sims 4 The sexual orientation update has been a long time coming and is a major step forward for LGBT representation in The Sims.

History of The Sims Sexual Orientation Settings

Get screenshots in The Sims 2 isn’t easy, but for gay people it has to be done.

Sims in the original The Sims could have same-sex relationships and complete a “move in” option together which worked the same as the “marriage” interaction, but two Sims of the same sex could not get married. The original game was first released in 2000, so it’s no surprise that it reflects the world back when real same-sex couples couldn’t get married either. However, the first iterations of The Sims were firmly rooted in fantasy, so you wonder why they couldn’t include marriage in this fantasy life simulator.

That said, when The Sims 2 released in 2004, there had been some key changes that improved the way same-sex couples were viewed in the game. Same-sex relationships were still possible, just like they were in the original, but now couples could take the next step equivalent to marriage and create a “joint union”. The Sims 2 also has a pre-determined gender preference for Sims which – when cheats are enabled – lets players know which gender the Sim is more or less attracted to. Despite being an interesting mechanic, we’ll never see the same chemistry system again in the rest of the franchise.

The Sims 3 was by far the most “normalized” interpretation of same-sex relationships, meaning they didn’t have many special characteristics or actions, as they were apparently viewed the same as heterosexual relationships Sim. It even allowed same-sex couples to marry, not just a joined union, referring to spouses as “husbands” and “wives” instead of just “partners.” This means The Sims 3 recognized marriage equality in 2009, but it still took until 2015 for it to be universally recognized in the United States. Talk about being ahead of your time!

Leading to The Sims 4, same-sex relationships were largely defined in very binary terms, and same-sex relationships operated the same way as heterosexual relationships. Thanks to continuous updates, The Sims 4 has the most robust gender options in Create-A-Sim out of all the others The Sims Gameplay. Players can customize many different aspects of their Sim’s gender presentation, including whether a Sim can get pregnant or impregnate other Sims.

It is important to note that gender presentation, identification, and pronouns do not automatically match sexual orientation, which applies to both Sims and real people. However, The Sims 4Updates to the base game have made it easier to tell more heterogeneous stories in-game, which in turn can allow their players to portray all aspects of their Sims’ lives.

The Sims 4 Sexual Orientation Update Details

The Create a Sim screen displays the new sexual orientation selections available.
This is the default sexual orientation setting for all Sims, but can be checked or unchecked at the players choice.

From the start of The Sims 4, Sims could have their romantic preferences “molded” to those of the same or opposite sex depending on the player’s actions. Thanks to The Sims 4 sexual orientation update, players will be able to select the sexual orientation of their Sims in Create-A-Sim and customize who their Sim is romantically interested in, who their Sim is interested in WooHooing (having fun with Teenage Sims), and even select if the Sim is not at all interested in WooHoo.

The Sexual Orientation selection is in the same box as the Gender selections. Attraction simply means your Sim is attracted to any selection, with players able to check both “male” and “female” or leave both boxes unchecked for no attraction. Romantic Exploration has a “yes” or “no” selection, with the option for players to have more editable sexual orientation journeys.

The options for Sims interested in WooHoo are the same as the Attraction selection, with “male” or “female” available as checkboxes. Players who want to tell an asexual story can leave all options unchecked and never pursue romance or have all romantic actions performed on them fail. Sims Aromantic is now also possible, as players can leave attraction selections unchecked, but then check a box (or boxes) for WooHoo’s interest.

Thanks to The Sims 4 sexual orientation update, Sims will now be able to ask close friends to be WooHoo Partners. It’s a way to better represent the Aromantic Sims, but it can also be a great “friends with benefits” mechanic for more storytelling opportunities. If players are not interested in setting individual sexual orientation preferences in The Sims 4Sims will continue to retain their love behavior prior to the update.

Two female Sims wear wedding dresses and pose for the camera.
I had to slip in a picture of me and my girlfriend’s Simselves getting married.

For now, the Attraction, Romance, and WooHoo selections follow the male/female gender binary, but Lead Designer and Lead Designer SimGuruJessica explained that’s because, mechanically speaking, non-binary Sims don’t do not yet exist in The Sims 4. Players can still have non-binary Sims in-game due to updated pronouns, but there still seems to be some work to do when it comes to actually implementing non-binary as gender identity as male or female.

Non-binary identities are precisely outside the gender binary (hence the name). Although it’s technically a gender identity, the fact is that non-binary people don’t identify with either gender, so putting it next to options like “male” or “female” is a bit of an oxymoron. However, there may be a need for more diverse LGBTQIA+ representation given the limitations of The Sims 4.

Where Did The Sims 4 Sexual Orientation Update Come From?

Two male Sims sit on a bench and look into each other's eyes.
Can’t talk about the sexual orientation update without at least one “eyes in the bedroom” pic.

SimGuruJessica has already stated that this update is basically a 1.0 release and the team wants to hear from players like The Sims 4 continues to add more diverse, equitable and inclusive options. What is most important about The Sims 4 The Sexual Orientation Update is the answer to the question “Can I turn this feature off?” deep dive in the new feature:

“No. Although we try to give players the ability to toggle certain game features, LGBTQIA+ identities are a reality and not a toggle to turn on and off.”

The Sims always seemed to care about LGBT identities in the game, but The Sims 4 has continually shown its dedication to not only presenting LGBTQIA+ stories, but to doing so in a meaningful and respectful way. As someone whose experiences with The Sims 2 helped to explore and accept my own sexuality and identity, it’s an amazing position for The Sims team to take and warms my little Queer heart.

There is still a long way to go until all LGBTQIA+ identities are properly presented in The Sims 4but the sexual orientation update is a win, and I can’t wait to see how The Sims is evolving to be more diverse and inclusive.

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