I enjoy playing the Sims 4 on the PC.
For those that are unaware, the Sims is a life simulation game. You can create characters (called Sims) and control pretty much every aspect of their life. You can decide what they look like, what personality they have, how old they are, their interests, what they do (crazy stuff usually), and lots more. You can even get aliens.
But for some people there seems to be something missing, and that is disability. There are no disabilities in the Sims 4 and there never have been. On the face of it, this may seem a bit strange because you can change pretty much everything else about your Sims. Why not give them disabilities?
I’ve googled this issue and there seems to be a bit of debate. Some disabled people think it’s a good idea to have disabilities in the game, and some don’t.
For me, I have never really felt the need to create disabled characters in games. I am quite happy with able-bodied Sims.
Being a wheelchair user in real life I don’t want to be a wheelchair user in games as well. The Sims is a way for me to live an able-bodied life but through virtual means. I can’t walk in real life but I can in games.
If Sims were in a wheelchair they would obviously be unable to do some things. Yes, just like in real life. But I think that would make the game less fun, at least when controlling the disabled Sim. Unless of course, they can do something crazy like riding a giant robot instead of a wheelchair. I think that would be cool.
I know that some disabled people have different opinions and want disabilities to be reflected in the game accurately. That’s fair enough. I think it would be good to have the option, by using a mod for example, but I think it would be hard to develop in practice.
Googling this issue I found a number of different opinions. For example, have a look at this forum discussing disabilities in the Sims 4.
Some disabled people want to see themselves reflected in the game. The Sims is supposed to reflect real-life and some people like to create Sims that look like themselves. Except disabled people can’t do that. If disability was added to the Sims it could create more disability representation and allow disabled people to feel more included.
But saying that, it could be quite a difficult thing to do in practice. There are lots of different types of disability, and even people with the same disability vary a lot in their severity and characteristics. No 2 people with cerebral palsy are exactly the same for example. Not all wheelchairs are the same. Not all mental illness is the same.
So I think it would be difficult to accurately represent every disability in the game. Some types of disability are going to get left out, and the people with those conditions are probably going to be upset by that.
I don’t think they would be able to represent disability accurately either. There would probably be a generic wheelchair option (probably like the stereotypical hospital wheelchairs) and a number of other physical visible disabilities. It would be hard to include invisible disabilities – how would you know they were there?
Plus the Sims is a comical game, and the Sims always do things in a humorous way. How do you accurately portray people with disabilities while keeping the game fun, and at the same time not disrespecting or mocking those people? There’s a fine line and it’s a sensitive issue.
Next, they would have to add accessibility infrastructure like lifts and ramps. All the buildings would have to be changed.
Sim Guru Grant (one of the Sims producers) said on Twitter that adding disabilities was something that they wanted to do. So it might happen in the future. If it does happen they need to talk to the disabled community and get their input.
Consulting with the disabled community could help to ensure that disabilities are represented in the Sims in the best way possible. Some people would really like it but some people won’t. I think it would be good to make it an optional add-on. It would be interesting to try but I don’t think I would use it all the time.