Friday, October 25, 2019

Cripple Rants: The Cripless Sims

Notes: Video game design is an art form. There is swearing.

The Sims is as a series started on computer in the year 2000. It's almost 20 years old. Millions of people around the world enjoy bringing characters of their own creation to life. But, it falls horrifyingly short for the world's largest minority. 

I am an avid Sims player. I've made people of all ages, colors, genders, etc. I've had white, cis characters climb the career ladder and I've had badass Asian, trans folx find love. There are vampires, witches, ghosts, and aliens in my neighborhoods. However, there are no disabled people. What the fuck?

Of course, they offered an extremely problematic take on mental illness at one point. You could have a Sim (character) that had an "insane trait" which had a straitjacket as an icon. After some pushback, the developers relabeled this "erratic". It's as close as we've ever gotten to representation of disabled, mentally ill, or neurodivergent Sims. 

Some people will say to me, "Everyone in The Sims is the same height, so short or tall people aren't represented. There are no nonbinary Sims." and this is true. To say gimps need representation in The Sims isn't saying other people don't deserve to be represented. It's just... shitty that so many of us can't create people like us in a game with the selling point of making who you want. Why is a purple alien more possible to them than my crippled ass?

Just like in real life, I notice a lot of the public buildings my Sims visit aren't wheelchair accessible. Will the developers have to alter too many buildings? Can they not figure out the physics of a rollator? Is it too hard to program a guide dog? My witch can clone herself, but God forbid she have crutches or need regular appointments with her psychiatrist. 

Not every game needs to exactly reflect our society. But, a simulation game proclaiming we can make the world we want to see leaving us out entirely is a huge oversight. The only other possibility I can think of is the developers are positive no one wants to see cripples in a "perfect world".

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