The Kiss that Changed Video Games
July 19, 2019 12:27 PM   Subscribe

The story of how The Sims (EA, 2000) ended up facililtating gay relationships - despite an earlier decision by the developers not to allow it. Also how an unscripted same sex kiss between background characters led to The Sims becoming the talk of E3 in 1999. (SLNew Yorker)
posted by gemmy (7 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Imagine your sexual orientation being so controversial that when it's briefly represented in the background of a demo, everyone loses their shit.

Now live like that every day.
posted by Nelson at 12:50 PM on July 19, 2019 [37 favorites]

“You might say that they stole the show,” Barrett said. “I guess straight guys that make sports games loved the idea of controlling two lesbians.”

Man, that is just a straight up burn. From one gay guy to another, my hat's off in admiration. True genuine US-certified Grade-A snark in such a pure and pithy form is just so rare to come across in the wild.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 2:10 PM on July 19, 2019 [13 favorites]

BTW, the language spoken by the Sims, Simlish was a collaboration between Will Wright and improv performers Stephen Kearin and the late Gerri Lawlor. (Previously)
posted by larrybob at 2:25 PM on July 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

Some useful context for this story, strangely omitted from the article, is the ridiculous 1996 controversy about boy bimbos in SimCopter. A sort of gay easter egg, a parody of sexism in video games. Maxis fired programmer Jacques Servin for it. (Ostensibly because it was unauthorized code, and not specifically because of the controversy and LGBT content). Servin's done alright for himself now though, going on to found RTMark and lead The Yes Men. Anyway, Maxis was more than usually nervous about surprise gay content in their games. It's a credit to Will Wright that he gave it the go ahead when Barrett showed it to him.
posted by Nelson at 3:18 PM on July 19, 2019 [11 favorites]

I missed all this. I just played the game and thought same-sex (and inter-racial, for that matter) coupling was in the game without note because that is natural and how it should be in the real world. And it was just accepted, in the then best selling game/franchise of all-time, no less!

Boy did /that/ leave me ill-prepared for the years of people complaining about "SJWs" ruining games that would come later.
posted by seraphine at 3:33 PM on July 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

Was just reading an excerpt from Don Hopkins' recently released Sims design notes where he really goes to bat for full-spectrum sexuality, fuck the haters.

(Maxis definitely got a boatload of my bisexual expansion pack dollars that they would not have gotten if same-sex advances were violently rebuffed; also it was the Right Thing To Do, gods or whatever bless him.)
posted by taquito sunrise at 4:27 PM on July 19, 2019 [9 favorites]

As a Schroedinger's closet occupying 14 year old (don't have to worry about whether I'm gay if I just don't look), this was a big deal both at the time and in retrospect. The only other non-buggy same sex romantic interactions I can remember being allowed in video games around that time were in effing Fallout (maybe 2 only? Did 1 have marriage mechanics at all?)
posted by PMdixon at 8:18 AM on July 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

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