This Sims 2 “Boolprop” forum has become a safe space for gay creatives

I realized I was bisexual when I was 12. I was on Boolprop FightTheAddiction False, a fan forum for The Sims 2, where I had lied about my age to register. It was an off-topic post in the real-life sub-forum, where another user had asked for advice on coming out to their parents as bi.

“It’s me,” I thought.

This is the TL version; DR. But when we break it down, there’s a chain of three elements of LGBTQ friendliness that got me there: The Sims has always been a gay friendly game. This, in turn, created a general gay-friendly fandom, especially with the release of The Sims 2. And that created specific queer-friendly spaces like Boolprop.

The game: The Sims has always been weird

Since its initial release, The Sims the franchise has been LGBTQ-friendly. His original creation, The Sims, was released in February 2000 as a life simulation game. During a demo at E3 in 1999, two female Sims spontaneously kissed, showing that romantic interactions weren’t limited to straight couples.

“No other game had made same-sex relationships easier before — at least to this extent — and some people thought maybe we weren’t the ideals to be first,” said Patrick J. Barrett III, l one of the game’s programmers. the new yorker in 2014.

In 2019programmer and artist Don Hopkins released design documents which showed the initial prototype of The Sims did not include queer romance options. Heterosexual romance was fine, but when two female Sims were asked to kiss, the bride-to-be slapped the kisser.

“I wrote my opinion that it should support same-sex relationships, instead of leading to homophobic violence,” Hopkins summed up. “Later design documents stated that heterosexual romance would not be the only type available.”

Barrett was the programmer who ended up creating the social interaction system, which considered homosexuality “just as possible behavior at any time for any character”.

Same-sex couples in the game could not marry, but they could adopt children. This changed gradually: in The Sims 2 (2004), homosexual couples acquired the possibility of civil union, which was replaced by marriage in The Sims 3 (2009). Whereas The Sims 4 (2014) has arguably the most LGBTQ representation – including pre-made gay Sims, expanded gender options, and custom pronouns – homosexuality has always been part of the game’s DNA.

“In The Sims it was normal and safe to be a gay person,” Barrett said. “It was the first time that we could play a game and be free to see ourselves represented inside.”

For many people, it’s always true. The Sims remains a game free of homophobia or simulated transphobia. It’s a way to experience homosexuality without any obligatory negativity or violence, letting gay Sims just…be.

The fandom: The Sims 2the website of helped players connect

The Sims 2 was a huge overhaul of the original game. It introduced countless iconic features to the franchise, such as aging, aspirations, genetics, and an open world. But he also made the most of the internet in the mid-2000s, making his website a social hub for showcasing creativity and building community.

Players could upload builds and characters to the sims gallery to share with others. But The Sims 2The website also allowed users to post stories, pairing photos from the game with a few lines of text. It was rudimentary, but revolutionary. Players could share their Sim soap operas with other fans.

“The official site hosted so many of these stories, so it was definitely a place to tell stories and connect with other readers and writers,” Jenn told the Daily Dot. Zoom. She rose to fame with her mythology-themed Alphabet Legacy, a challenge of playing the same family in The Sims 2 for 26 generations. (The story, titled “Ancient Mythology”, is still available to read, out of order, here.)

my love to play The Sims turned into love The Sims 2, and from there I made the jump to finding Sims content online. I vividly remember watching a sims– directed a music video on “Helena” from My Chemical Romance (Apparently made in 2006), browsing ModTheSims for custom content, and somewhere along the way finding “legacy challenges” on the official site.

Creators often mentioned the work of other creators, so reading a story could lead to a rabbit hole of similar content. One heirloom I read mentioned Jenn, and Jenn’s heirlooms mentioned something else: Boolprop.

In addition to popularizing a challenge for bananas The Sims 4 now give you a achievement if you complete it, Jenn had another claim to fame. She was one of the creators of Boolprop FightTheAddiction False.

The forum: Boolprop welcomes everyone

Boolprop was born out of a conversion Jenn had with Rhea, another The Sims 2 creator, circa 2004.

“We were just talking about the stories and we were like, ‘Hey, we should start this forum, because we like talking about it, and maybe other people want to talk about it,'” Jenn told the Daily Dot. “I hadn’t really been involved in the fandom before that. It kind of built from there.

The two decided to start a forum, named after the powerful in-game cheat “boolprop testingcheatsenabled true” that unlocks debugging options, removing most constraints from the game. The site exploded in popularity.

“It was a handful of members, then 100 members, and it just took off,” Jenn said. “We were both a little impressed that this little forum that we created was gaining so much traction, and it kind of took off within the sims community.”

Jenn was 18 at the time and fresh out of high school. By the time I joined around 2006, Boolprop had thousands of members and had grown from a sims fan forum into a vast online community space.

Like many gay kids, I struggled in school. My favorite French teacher believed that gay people were unnatural and shouldn’t be allowed to marry. I once had a fight with some popular kids who supported Uganda’s proposal”kill the gaysBill while my physics teacher watched in silence. I was bullied for my perceived sexuality from the age of 10, years before I even knew I was queer.

Boolprop was a place where I didn’t have to worry about any of that.

“We tried to create a really safe and welcoming environment. But all of us administrators were very young ourselves when we started it,” Jenn said. “We were kind of flying by the seat of our pants.”

The site consisted of legacy and challenge boards, as well as places to share quiz results, offer graphic design services, or role-play. There were also places to discuss real-world issues, like the advice subforum where I found out about bisexuality. (It’s also where I first heard about pansexuality, which was my favorite label for most of my teens.)

“It’s an area of ​​the website that I’ve always been very proud of,” Jenn said. “In other forums, people would post personal stuff and then they had to try to find a way to relate it to what the forum was supposed to be about. … I think it’s become a very important part of the community for lots of people, and it really was a pretty safe space for sharing.

Another big draw was the writing sub-forum, where users shared original stories. Every November, the Board of Directors was inundated with NaNoWriMo content as users participating in National Novel Writing Month would share their attempts to write 50,000 words in 30 days. People read each other’s drafts, shared comments and editing tips, and encouraged each other.

It was one of the things that attracted Josh – known online at the time as dutchess_axel – who joined the forum around 2004 when they were in college. “I think everyone got a little bit more creative with it,” they told the Daily Dot. “I feel like it’s really helped my own writing grow.”

Josh attributed this to Jenn’s influence. “She was the forum admin,” Josh said. “She kind of created this forum. And I feel like it influenced the forum as a whole.

Josh and Jenn became friends through Boolprop, and they still stay in touch. None of them are straight. Interviewing them about the website made me wonder how many other young posters on the site were also queer and had also gravitated towards The Sims and Boolprop as a place to be LGBTQ weirdos together.

“I think Boolprop was helpful in being that open space where it was okay to say, ‘Oh yeah, I’m not that thing, I could be something else,'” Josh said. “It’s definitely a different internet than what we have today.”

Although the original website is long gone, parts of Boolprop are still alive. Boolprop itself still exists under different administrators. Jenn and Josh, who met on the forum, are still friends. We still love all three The Sims. And Jenn is still a writer.

She is currently working on her third novel, all lesbian romances written under the name Jenn Alexander.

“It was around the time I was coming out and then I started writing with it,” she said. “Now I’ve released these lesbian romance novels, and I think it all came out of Boolprop.”

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