With same-sex relationships a possibility since the first game in the series in 2000, The Sims led queer representation in games. It wasn’t always perfect, with same-sex couples restricted to “joint unions” rather than marriages in The Sims 2, for example, but it’s there. One area where it was still lacking in terms of representation is gender, with default pronouns applied based on the body type chosen by players. That changed from a to update (opens in new tab) adding customizable pronouns to The Sims 4.
With this update, a new or existing Sim can use the Create a Sim menu to choose They/They from the Change Pronouns drop-down menu, or go into Custom Pronouns and set separate options for subjective, objective, reflexive, dependent possessive, and independent possessive. pronouns. It sounds like a pretty robust set of possibilities and was designed with consultation from GLAAD and the It Gets Better Project, a non-profit that The Sims partnered in 2019.
Credit for getting the ball rolling must go to the Twitch streamer and ambassador It Gets Better Misfortune Momo (opens in new tab), who started tweeting daily on the EA and The Sims account to request pronoun choices early last year. They also started a petition on Change.org (opens in new tab) which accumulated 22,856 signatures.
On a blog post (opens in new tab) regarding the update, producer John Faciane aka SimGuruDuck discussed the work that went into researching and adding this feature. “We went through a few different explorations,” wrote Faciane, “but ultimately we came up with a system that allows pronouns to be player-defined and used in a number of different text strings. This has been achieved. by creating new tokens, or pieces of text that are reused, that support players’ personalized input.”
Custom pronouns are currently only available to Sims in the English version of The Sims 4. Faciane noted that it will take some time to release as The Sims 4 has been translated into 18 different languages: “With that many languages, There’s a lot of complexity around how different languages and cultures use pronouns, so we’ll need more time to research how to properly integrate grammar rules in other languages where the game is available.”