The Sims Key Art

The Sims: Can We Really Play With Life?

Lately, The Sims community has been constantly filled with drama with one topic cemented on the lips of fans. People around the world are unhappy with the game’s state of representation. Can we really play with life if everyone can’t make their simselves look like themselves? In light of this, I went through The Sims series and showed how the team implemented different skin tones to better fit the community.

The Sims

Sims 1 CAS

Back in The Sims 1, there were barely any options when creating a Sim. There was a text box for a name and a section for the personality with five options: Neat, Outgoing, Active, Playful and Nice. You had 25 available points to award to all these traits and you didn’t have to use all of them. However, when you did assign these points, you would get a zodiac sign based on how many points were tallied on each trait.

There were also only 3 different types of skin tones available: tanned white, brown and dark brown. You could change the hair colour with the type of head you chose, as each different head shape came with a different hairstyle and colour. Clothes came with the body type selections of slim, fit, or heavy. You could pick your everyday outfit based on these body types but the other categories were default outfits. Age choices were between child and adult as well as the basic gender options of male or female. Lastly, there was a section to add a small bio about the sim. This was the complete Create a Sim (CAS) experience. It may have been basic, but at the time it was exactly what people wanted and were more than happy with the choices on offer.

The Sims 2

Sims 2 CAS

When The Sims 2 came out they had added another skin tone, a paler white tone. The ability to change heads was a new feature in the game. Each head type was also based on skin tone or gender. This showed that The Sims development team was learning not every person was the same and different races had different facial structures based on their habitat. More features were added for personality and clothes, but the biggest change was the ability to define and refine the facial features of a Sim. Even after picking a head shape, you could zoom in and change the height that the eyes sat at, or the arch of the eyebrows.

The Sims 3

Sims Colour Wheel
Sims 3 CAS

With the Sims 3, everything changed. Skin tones were almost limitless and were decided by the player as they used a slider to find the exact tone they wanted. You could adjust it anywhere from a pale white to a lightish brown. They upgraded the options from 4 to 6, however, there were only 3 human options on the slider, as the other 3 included; red, blue and green. In later patches, 6 additional skin tones were added but they weren’t human colours. They were part of the Supernatural pack and included turquoise and purple.

The Sims 4

Sims 4 CAS

When The Sims 4 arrived in 2014, fans around the world were excited about what could be. They were disappointed though when some basic items or ways of life weren’t in the game. When going into CAS, there was no way to make a baby sim or even a toddler. It was strictly child, teen, young adult, adult and elder. The skins were formatted like a colour palette and showcased a range of colours from pasty white to an ashy black, with blue and green colours for aliens. The skin tones that were on the “darker side” of the colour options were always ashy looking or had weird glitches. The makeup would simply not sit correctly on the sim’s face. If anyone wanted their own skin colour, they would have to seek out custom content and The Sims team was okay with that.

Where is the Colour Wheel?

Six years later, The Sims team reached out to the community and announced more skin tones will be added to the game by the end of 2020. The Black Lives Matter movement was sweeping the world and the team agreed – no one should be swept under the rug, everyone should be heard and represented. While social media exploded around this subject, diversity was not reflected in-game.

Unfortunately, there has been one feature left out in The Sims 4 which seems like an easy solution, the colour wheel. When The Sims 4 didn’t implement this feature, simmers were confused. Why couldn’t the feature be added when it was readily available in The Sims 3? The Sims 4 development team reached out to the community about the absence. They concluded the wheel was too complex for it to be added to the latest Sims game.

Four years later, an expansion pack called Cats and Dogs was released and featured the colour wheel as a means to customise your pets. How was the Sims Team able to incorporate the wheel for pets but couldn’t seem to do it for the sims themselves? A feature like this would save the development team from all the backlash. A colour wheel would give everyone the opportunity to choose their own skin tone and not lash out at The Sims team.

We will have to wait and see what skin tones are being released in December and whether they are good enough for the community.