The Sims 4’s Next Big Patch Lets You Customize Sexual Orientations

The Sims 4’s latest expansion pack, ‘High School Years’, will launch on July 28, but it will also get a free update with a variety of features, primarily a new set of sexual orientation options. .

Throughout its history, The Sims has been a haven for many LGBTQIA+ people, and earlier this year it became the face of its “Wedding Stories” expansion with a queer couple featured heavily in marketing. Although there was controversy over the decision – quickly reversed – not to sell the expansion in Russia due to the country’s anti-gay laws, the expansion was followed by an update in May which added pronouns.

Each of these milestones reaffirms those who have spent countless hours discovering themselves through the mirror of their Sims, something that SimGuruJessica, the design lead for the high school years, seems to be getting. On The Sims 4 Design Blog (opens in a new tab)they talked in depth about the new sexual orientation feature and how the development team arrived at the decisions they made: “Authenticity is a point that comes up often when it comes to features like this one, and rightly so… Many team members, myself included, are part of the LGBTQIA+ community. That said, each of us on the team represents only a small slice of experience. As such, we’ve worked extensively with GLAAD and the It Gets Better project to ensure that we’ve captured the widest possible range of perspectives on how to approach this feature in a way that respects and uplifts the community.”

The new sexual orientation menu in The Sims 4

(Image credit: EA)

The Sexual Orientation function will allow you to adjust the love and sexual attractions of your Sim on a few axes. The first is who your Sim is attracted to, which will cause them to automatically reject any romantic interaction with someone they aren’t attracted to – and since the system doesn’t require verification, you can easily portray them as being aromantic. During this time, you can check whether or not your Sim’s sexual orientation may or may not change and change through the game, which will lock in their preferences or allow them to change over time, as they sometimes do in life.

The last part of the sexual orientation feature is the separate setting for gender, or WooHoo as the Sims affectionately refer to it. You can choose which genders your Sim will fall for, and like the attraction options, you can easily represent your Sim’s asexuality by leaving both unchecked. Aro and ace identities are usually not mentioned or ignored, so the explicit choice to affirm players who want Sims with these identities is a very good idea. And none of these features are hidden, requiring you to use The Sims 4 cheats to change them, which is nice to see.

While SimGuruJessica acknowledges that attraction and gender in Sims 4 is still limited to binary, they also address it in more detail in the article’s FAQ: “TS4 is 8 years old at this point and depends on systems that have was originally architected with a gender binary in the years that followed, we have taken significant steps such as customizing gender, pronouns and now sexual orientation. It’s an ongoing journey, with many more steps to take. Proper mechanical systems to fully support non-binary Sims is another step in this journey.”

More importantly, SimGuruJessica posted an amazing answer to their FAQ, in response to a question I know someone would (unfortunately) ask if they hadn’t addressed it: can I disable this 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 toggle on and off.”

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