Should disabilities be added to the Sims?
Hands down, my favorite game is the Sims. I’ve been obsessed since my friend told me to buy the Sims 2 for my laptop so we could play together while we hung out over AIM. My wallet cries every time a new expansion pack is released because it just knows it’s about to take a hit.
My one complaint over the years has always been that you can’t make a disabled sim. I think half the fun is making yourself on the game, and there are probably 5 (or 10) Karly’s running around my game currently. But it always seems like a bummer that I can’t have her in a wheelchair.
The other day I was watching a speed build video with one of the new stuff packs (because yeah, I’m that much of a nerd) and I stumbled upon a video talking about rumors of potential additions for the game. Some of the designers/creators of the Sims will occasionally have little Q&A sessions on Twitter. Apparently, they’re finally having serious discussions about adding disabilities into the game!
Yes. We are actively pondering this right now. https://t.co/NQdtWe3Xqe
— Grant Rodiek (@SimGuruGrant) September 5, 2018
And of course, because nothing is safe on the internet, there was a huge debate in the comments about whether or not any disabilities should be a part of the game. I might be a little biased, but there are a lot of reasons why I think it could be an incredible way to make it more inclusive and interesting.
Any time a game expands its representation, it’s a good thing. The more people who can see themselves in their game, the more people who will feel compelled to buy and play it. Letting disabled kids and adults make themselves in a game is amazing in itself. But when it’s a game where they can then watch them buy the fanciest house on the street, get promoted into their dream job, or get married after flirting with their crush for two straight hours (because who has time to go on dates when all it takes is 30 flirty interactions), it has the potential to make such a massive positive impact.
They’ve already said it would be a free update, so anyone with the base game would have access. Which is amazing and a huge relief. I would’ve been so disappointed if they turned it into a game pack I had to buy.
We would not charge for this.
— Grant Rodiek (@SimGuruGrant) September 10, 2018
Unique features not included in most games
Adding disabilities would give the Sims something you don’t see very often. There are disabled characters in video games occasionally, but they aren’t usually the main or playable characters. It’s definitely not a common or easy thing to find, at least it hasn’t been for me. Having the option to make a disabled character that can do everything an abled character can do in the game would certainly be a rare find. Hopefully, it’d encourage other game developers to step up and be more inclusive as well!
Storytelling possibilities and creative build options
A big feature of the Sims is the storytelling. There’s a pretty huge community on Youtube specifically that post gameplay videos regularly to follow super involved stories. Adding disabilities will create so many different possibilities. I know they’ve talked about wheelchairs and ASL specifically, and those two alone open up a lot of options.
Disability is such a broad subject and the creators of the game could take it anywhere. They could add crutches and other mobility aids, or have sims read Braille. Maybe they could give the option to have manual and power chairs, as well as full-time users and ambulatory users as well. There are a million different options for them.
One of my favorite things is building and decorating houses and lots around the different neighborhoods. If wheelchairs are added, it stands to reason that they’d need to include quite a few new build options. I’m stoked at the thought of building accessible houses more than almost anything else.
It just makes sense
Considering the entire premise of the game is to simulate real life, it makes perfect sense that disabilities would be included when designing sims. Disabled people make up a fifth of society and it’s a natural part of being human. I’ve seen people say that it’s too complicated for the developers to add. While I have to acknowledge the fact that I don’t know anything about the process, I still don’t think that excuse is entirely valid. They have rocket ships and vampires, so if they can add those, I think it’s fair to ask for a wheelchair.
That said, there are a few potential downsides to this (hopefully) coming update.
Can’t include all disabilities
There’s just no way to have every single disability included because there are so many of them and variations of every single one. I don’t think it’s better to say ‘if we can’t do them all we’ll do none at all’, but I also know it’d feel pretty crappy to finally have disabilities and still not see yourself. Maybe they could continually add options over the years, or maybe they’ll sort of make the create a sim options kind of vague. I doubt they’d name any specifics, aside from ‘uses a wheelchair’ or ‘uses ASL’. Leaving things like a loose interpretation could allow more people to connect with whatever options are made available.
It needs to be fair and accurate
Disabilities can be a pretty sensitive subject for a lot of people. So, if you’re going to add representation, it’s gotta be a good representation. I take a lot of comfort in the fact that they’ve been consulting with the community to see how best to implement this update. At one point, they even had a discussion over differently abled vs disabled. I felt like it was handled really well, too. But there’s definitely still a lot of room for error.
Give us a little time. It's important.
— Grant Rodiek (@SimGuruGrant) September 5, 2018
Like, will wheelchair using Sims be able to access all of the lots and complete all of the random actions? Can I have a little Karly start jamming in the club or will she have to stand up to dance? Are they going to be able to use the stove? And for deaf sims, will everyone just know ASL or will it be a thing you have individual sims learn? Depending on how it’s set up, it has a pretty equal chance of being incredible or hurtful.
Despite any worries I have, I can’t wait to see what they come up with.
It’s been my favorite game for 10 years now. So the fact that I might soon be able to make disabled sims makes my heart so happy. My towns are going to be filled with wheelchairs, animals, and no men. My actual dream.