News: The Sims 4 Expands Gender Customization Options

Now, there are two extreme reactions to this:

‘Oh, wow! This is amazing! It’s so great that The Sims is supporting the LGBT community and giving players more options to customise their characters!’

and

‘No… no… no… no… no… *horrified face*!!! I don’t feel comfortable with this and I’m not sure I’m happy having this in my game!’

Or maybe like me, you’re somewhere in between. You are happy that players have more options and think it’s great that The Sims team are supporting different life choices. But maybe you don’t really want men to get pregnant and worry about how this might affect your game. Yeah… it’s great to have the choice, but maybe you don’t want every single townie to look like Prince, Ellen, Bowie or Lenny Kravitz (as much as you love those people in real-life).

Well, the good news is that The Sims team have this covered! You really can play YOUR way here, as the new features are entirely optional. In fact, you have to opt-in to them and if you don’t want the new features, you can ignore them and continue to play your own way. And they have gone to great lengths to make sure no random townies will spawn with the new options. As a player who is a bit of a control-freak, this makes me very happy!

Now, when you go into CAS you will see a small unobtrusive ‘…’ option that opens a window with the new features. At first some of these choices seem a bit strange, but they are provided to help players create the transition period between changing from one gender to another, or the difficulties they might face. The Sims team worked with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group GLAAD to make sure they provided details and features that would help players create the Sims they wanted to create. So, you can choose whether a Sim can pee standing up, or if they can get others pregnant, or get pregnant themselves. You can also choose the ‘frame’ of your Sim, so you could have a female with a masculine frame or visa-versa. I tested this out on Cinderelli-sim.

I live in an area where it’s not unusual to be gay or be in a same-sex relationship. There are same-sex couple families, and occasionally you might meet a transgender person (although you might not be sure). So the new features are not as shocking or controversial to me as they might be to others. However, I also live in a very multi-cultural place, and can sympathise with people who may be uncomfortable with this because they come from a community where this is a taboo. On the whole, I’m lucky enough that all these different people just get on with their own lives and don’t worry about what others choose to do with theirs.

At the moment, I don’t think I’ll use the advanced gender options. I already have my main characters, most of whom have been with me since The Sims 1, and they have pretty set story-lines. I just don’t happen to have any transgender Sims. However, I do have ‘feminine’ men and ‘masculine’ women and already show this through walk-styles and body-shape. For example, I have a aging rockstar based loosely on David Bowie. And I have a young girl who is pretty tough and wants to join the police force! Both these sims are ‘straight’. I do have a gay Sim but he just looks like any other male in my game.

What I really REALLY like about this update is that we now have soooooo many more clothing options when it comes to CAS! With a simple toggle, you now have access to almost all CAS assets for either gender if you want them. Sure… some are more dramatic than others, but I was pleasantly surprised to find so many options worked really well for both genders! In fact, I started to get a bit confused about which item had been for which gender before the patch!

One thing I particularly like about this is that it gives you more ‘covered-up’ clothing for females. I have a big variety of characters in my game, including a lot of mothers and grandmothers who don’t suit the vast majority of young and revealing female CAS items that are more appropriate for younger Sims. Being able to access the male CAS means I now have more jeans, trousers and (most importantly) cuddly cosy jumpers for my more modest Sims!

I’m very impressed with the new clothing options, and even if you are unsure about the new gender features, I encourage you to at least explore the variety of clothing that is now available. There are a lot of items that just aren’t suitable or don’t really work too well at the moment. But there are also so many great clothing assets that I think most people will be able to find something in there that they like.

But new gender and clothing options aren’t all there is in this patch!!! Oooooooh no. There is also new lighting that looks absolutely beautiful! Light now passes through windows.

And there are also a lot of smaller details including:

* Sims can now grab a drink of water from the tap or sink.
* There are lots of tweaks to the Ui.
* There are FINALLY more carpet colour options!
* A new ‘Ask just to be friends’ social interaction.
* And being able to size-up paintings and photos!

This really is a huuuuuuuge patch and there is something for everyone!

I really like how The Sims are trying to cater to different player’s needs and I like this idea of being inclusive and allowing people to represent themselves in the game. What I feel they need to do next is look at other communities of players and provide items for them. This includes traditional cultural clothing like head scarves, turbans and saris. It upsets me to think that any players feel like they are being marginalised, and in the interests of diversity and representation, I think they could do well to look to other players who might need support. Recent world events have created tensions and fear of certain cultures, just as the LGBT community has been faced with fear and misunderstanding. The Sims has always been a progressive and inclusive game and I feel like the next step is to provide content that shows solidarity with these players too. But that’s just my humble and inclusive opinion. It just a game after all.

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