The Sims is a real-life simulation game, aimed at recreating real life in a way that has been wildly successful. While it is obviously impossible to simulate all aspects of the human experience, the game has been heavily criticised for its focus on American, white, middle- class, suburban life. Compared to past versions, The Sims 4 has rarely portrayed other cultures in its expansion packs, let alone the base game.
As graphics have become more realistic, attention to white skin tones and hairstyles has been remarkable. While this has been impressive, it has only highlighted the neglect of their ethnic counterparts. Many of my friends who play the game use it as an outlet for self-expression, sometimes even recreating themselves and their friends. While recent expansion packs have released improved ethnic hairstyles, the base game remains lacklustre.
This leaves the responsibility to modders, who upload free content for Simmers looking to expand their inventory. It’s frustrating players should have to find solutions outside of the game rather than Maxis/EA providing it, especially considering the price of the game and its various packs.
Just recently, the newest pack was released: Journey to Batuu. The Sims community was generally disappointed with the new release, considering it resolved none of their issues. For years, Simmers have asked for more Lore, increased interactions with babies, greater emphasis on age ranges outside of young adult, as well as improving ethnic skin tones and hair types. This release solved none of this, only alienating members of the community. It’s clear this release was part of a brand deal with Disney, emphasising the Sims focus on income rather than listening to their customers.
As an avid Simmer myself, it’s frustrating to feel as though I am yelling at a brick wall. These issues were only highlighted with the reignition of the Black Lives Matter movement this June, as Simmers have been advocating for greater attention to minorities in the Create A Sim function for years. With the release of Journey to Batuu, it feels that the Sims Franchise will continue to have a greater focus on big brands rather than the opinions of their players.