Bye Bye, Binary: Custom Gender in “Sims 4” Update

Since its original release sixteen years ago, The Sims has been a fairly progressive franchise. But now, in its Sims 4 iteration, the game may be surpassing the real world.

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In a free update released yesterday, the Sims 4 now allows for customization of gender. Even though Sims 3 provided a huge improvement in customizable body type, players were still limited to Male and Female for gender. This dictated the types of clothing the character could wear, their ability to produce children biologically, and, obviously, the pronouns that referred to them. That limit continued into Sims 4 – BUT NO LONGER!

According to executive producer Rachel Franklin, folks at Maxis and Electronic Arts have been working on this update for over a year. They even consulted with GLAAD, who advised the removal of gender symbols in-game. Most important is what all this means for non-binary representation. There is now more control over clothing, physique, and voice!

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Players can design characters they identify with and relate to more than ever before

Whether creating original characters or basing them upon friends, players can finally make realistic transgender Sims without the use of a mod or hack. They can make a sim version of themself and not feel limited by the expectations of masculinity or femininity.  Anyone can wear a suit, rock a pair of heels, or sport facial hair. You can actually follow a character’s transition from childhood to adulthood!

As with any game update, there are some issues still being working out as players test it out. I’ve seen some complaints about shadowing and meshes, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Custom Content gets borked by this update. Those mild frustrations aside, this is AMAZING progress and we should absolutely celebrate it.

I’m not lucky enough to have Sims 4 for myself yet, but if you have the update, please share your thoughts below!

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